A little less than two weeks ago, I got on a plane headed to a place I’d never been with a group of strangers. Tomorrow I’ll be boarding a plane again, but this time I’ll be returning home with a group of friends. And while I’m happy to return home, there’s part of me that longs to stay. This country is beautiful, and the people are something special that you won’t find anywhere else.
I’ve been taught so much, and my eyes are open in such a way that I can’t forget. I no longer can be blind to the world around me and the people who are suffering. I know it sounds cliche, and you’re probably betting that I’ll be back to normal in a couple days, but that’s not how this work.
I came on this trip, because I wanted to hear stories. I wanted to see the world in its rawest form without the filter of the media or the fear of those around me. I wanted to know the truth and decide for myself as to what I believed. I was tired of not knowing what was really happening on the other side of the world, while everyone else was so content with living in their bubble. I no longer wanted my views to be shaped by my parents, my family, my friends, and my world.
I got my wish. I got to see a world that was alive and real. There was no longer a camera distancing me from the truth. I got to see the people and listen to their tales no matter how much it hurt. I got to share laughter with not only the refugees but with the team who quickly became my friends. I got to eat food that I didn’t always like but managed to stomach out of respect. I got to feel love in one of its purest forms while experiencing what it really meant to be a refugee and the hospitality that I haven’t found anywhere else.
The only thing though is that now I can’t go back. I can no longer be blind to their pain and suffering while re-entering a world that is. When I was preparing to leave for this trip, all I heard about was my safety, which I understand and I’m thankful for. I heard jokes about terrorism and muslims, such as my cousin telling my dad to send me over with his AK for “safety”. I left a world that ignored what was happening because in truth they don’t understand and instead lashed out.
They spoke of how the economy will be altered by the sudden influx when in truth, you’re letting a whole new workforce with gifts and talents as well as another group of consumers and taxpayers in our system. These are people who are itching to work but can’t because laws are put in place to stop them. These are people who want to provide for their families but can’t and hate every minute of it.
They spoke of safety, which is valid by every argument, but we can’t let our lives be ruled by fear. It’s better to love and risk it than to live in fear and have a cold heart. There’s rules and steps put in place to make sure they’re screened and registered. Some of these people even wait years to get to another country to start their new lives. Yes, a few bad apples may slip into the bunch, but there’s no way to stop that no matter how they get in. It doesn’t mean we have to open the floodgates, but instead at least start working towards letting more in.
Because these people are more than just statistics or numbers on a screen. They aren’t just images flashing by and forgotten the next. These are human beings with stories and dreams. I can’t forget that, and I don’t think I want to. I want to live my life knowing this because it’s the truth. We as Christians can’t hide from that; we can hide from the fact that Christ Himself was a refugee, fleeing to Egypt to escape death.
Christ said in Matthew 25:40, “Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” when speaking about serving the helpless and loving the lost. It’s about time as a church, that we stop just listening to the Words and actually start living it.