Fellow human beings who believe themselves to be dead already are taking to the seas in un-seaworthy inflatable rafts in desperate attempts to reach possible asylum shores. We've all seen the picture of Aylan, the three-year old found face-down in the sand, whose lifeless body in a little red shirt and sneakers was carried away by a Turkish police officer.
Those are his words. I don't blame him.
They were trying to reach Canadian shores. They had family in Canada who had desperately tried to get them Refugee Status so they'd have a place to land. But Red Tape was victorious, and as is often the case, death ensued.
My whole life I've believed the Myth of Scarcity. I've listened to those who say "we cannot take them; there will not be enough for us all." I've chosen to say "not my circus, not my monkeys," and I've turned my face away from the crises that happen all around the world, all day long, while I sit and drink coffee in a safe and quiet little shop and check Facebook and answer emails and do some studying.
But here's the thing. I am a Christian. I believe there is a God who loves us, never leaves us, and came back to earth to show us Himself so that we may be rescued. My God gives refugees a home. The people who carried the Word of God in their hearts for thousands of years before Christ came? They were called Israelites. They were the people God chose to carry His message through the generations. He pulled them aside and said "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! 2"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overcome you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flame shall not consume you." (Isaiah 43)
They were refugees; nomads. I am alive and have a written Bible on my nightstand because SOMEONE, at SOME POINT, took My People "in." I am the product of a Refugee People. It is because of kind-hearted humans who gave my Refugee People safe shelter and warm food that I even exist and that I have a written record of the God who created me...and the Savior Jesus who came back to rescue me.
More recently than the ancestry of my faith is the ancestry of my physical ethnicity. I come from Germans and Czechoslovakians and Irish--from people who knew the ravages of war and famine and drought and plague. I come from a line of people who were forced to leave their homes and flee, at different times and for different reasons. And I'd bet my life that, somewhere along the way, some kind-hearted family opened their door and said "Come in. Come stay. You can sleep here with us. You will be safe under our roof." It is simply impossible that not a single person in my entire family tree has had to seek refuge. I believe, in fact, with 100% confidence, that people with whom I share blood, though now long-deceased, were taken in and given refuge by people whose blood, skin, family-line, and ethnicity were different from theirs.
I sit here today as a product of unrelated people who stepped in and said Not On My Watch to the refugee crises of their times. Both my faith and my physical existence are the products of people who were Once Refugees and Then Rescued.
And so, I have no logical choice but to believe what God says. Time and time again our God tells us that scarcity is a myth. There is always enough. I think of the Widow of Zarephath, and I wish she were here to look into my eyes and say "there will be enough." But I can read her story; I can hear her words echoing in my soul. I cannot get them to leave me::
Elijah, the prophet, was hungry. He needed someone to take him in; to feed him. So, he asked the widow for some food.
But she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die." 13Then Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. 14"For thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.'"
(1 Kings 7:11ff)
She believed the prophet. She believed God. She used the last of her oil, the very last crumbs of her flour, and she gave her last loaf of bread to the man who knew God's Words. She gave all she had to a man who was displaying the Face of God.
And God's promise did not return void. His promises never do. She obeyed...she trusted...and God filled her bowls. God gave her abundant life because she was willing to give up her own life for the sake of believing Him.
When the Israelites (my people...our people) disobeyed God and were made to wander 40 years in the wilderness, He gave them manna (Exodus 16). He told them to only gather as much as they needed to sustain them for one day. No more; no less. Sometimes, they didn't believe He'd send more the next day and so they gathered extras. Just in case. And those "extras?" They'd immediately become infested with maggots. The Israelites (slowly) learned this: God will provide Exactly Enough. Do not take more than you need. If you obey, everyone will have Exactly Enough; everyone will be satisfied; everyone will eat today.
Do we not want the same? Do we want our brothers and sisters to have enough, as we have enough? That is a serious question, and our honest answer will determine our actions in the face of this Crisis.
In the New Testament, God commands us to not be anxious. He reminds us that He clothes the lilies of the field and the birds of the air--they always have enough, so we will too. (Matthew 6)
There are angels among us, you know. Can you see the face of Christ in these refugees braving waves in rafts and crawling to hopeful safety on sandy shores? Jesus condemns those of us who do not feed and clothe the least among us because it is in them that He is found. He says "42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me." Those to whom he is speaking ask "but Lord, when did we see you?" He replies "to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me." (Matthew 25:42 ff) When we open our arms to those fleeing, we are opening our arms to Christ.
The truth that SCARCITY IS A MYTH is all over the Bible. You can hardly turn a page without, in one way or another, being reminded that The Lord Our God Provides Enough. Satan wants us to believe we must hoard; must save ourselves; must make sure me and mine are taken care of. God wants us to believe Him when He says that He will take care of me and mine...and my job is to take care of you and yours.
Ann Voskamp has faithfully provided us with some very practical, very real solution-oriented ways we can help. YOU ARE NOT BEING ASKED TO SOLVE THE ENTIRE REFUGEE CRISIS. You are being COMMANDED BY GOD to help Just One. To do The Next Right Thing. To stare at the pictures; to look into the faces; to not turn away...to allow your heart to be broken for what breaks the heart of God. In Psalm 51:17, David says "my sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart." Let us pray and move with David. Let us sacrifice our stone hearts for ones that break. Broken hearts suck. They hurt. They make life Hard. But you know what? Broken hearts call us to action. Broken hearts make us real. Lord, forgive us for our apathy and put fire in our hearts to act. "We can turn a blind eye to the poor all we want, but it could have turned out that we were the poor."
We can literally put some stuff like underwear and peanut butter in a box and SEND IT TO GREECE for people stranded on the islands there.
If you’d like to help Syrian refugees stranded on the Greek Island of Lesvos, see the list below, and mail to:
Hellenic Postal Office of Mythymna
℅ The Captain’s Table
Molyvos 81108, Lesvos, Greece
ITEMS TO SEND for SYRIAN REFUGEES on GREEK ISLAND OF LESVOS:Sneakers, gym shoes for men, women and children (all sizes) are a HIGH PRIORITY
Sweatpants of all sizes.
Briefs/underwear for men, women and children (all sizes)
Men’s trousers (small, medium and large) and shoes
Baby powder milk
Any non-perishables like nut butters or other long-lasting foods.
Plastic to cover the floor/for shade
Mats (camping or yoga mats)
Hats and caps for sunshade (adults and children/light colours because of the sun)
Electric Plug for multiple devices (european voltage)
(Or send money to those who are.)
The story seems apropos in light of my heart on the Refugee Crisis, and maybe it will stir your heart and spur you to action as it spurred me.
December 23, 2014
It was just past 7. After a long bag-drop line and an even longer line through security. I was tired and unshowered and sweating under my puffy jacket and scarf and a huge sweater (because everyone knows you wear as many clothes as possible, no matter how uncomfortable you are, so that your bag is passable as carry-on size, duh), and my hands were full with a pillow and an oversized purse and a roller bag. Airport travel these days is truly the pits. I veered off down a hallway to check the monitors for my gate when I heard a kind, “Excuse me, ma’am,” come from somewhere behind my shoulder.
I turned around, expecting some TSA agent to tell me that actually the cooking utensils in my bag were considered weapons and I was going to have to hand them over or someone handing me something I dropped or forgot, but it was a boy.
“I just need to tell you that you’re beautiful.”
Um, what? Me? I haven’t showered since yesterday, and my hair looks like a ragamuffin because I literally did not do a single thing to it between my shower yesterday and this moment right now and I’M SWEATING PROFUSELY UNDER THESE LAYERS and my shoulder is sore from this bag and I minded my own business all through line instead of making friends like usual because IT IS 7:00 IN THE MORNING AND I SHOULD STILL BE SLEEPING so I have no idea how in the world I caught your eye enough that you would make a concerted effort to follow me out of the security line simply to tell me I’m beautiful but…
I said it quietly. “Wow. I’m stunned. You are so kind for having the courage to say something. Really.”
“Well, you probably didn’t realize it but you smiled at people all the way through that line back there. And these days, people aren’t doing much smiling. You truly are stunning, and I noticed you before the smile, but once you smiled at me and others I just couldn’t keep it to myself. I had to come tell you--I had to come make sure you knew.”
I asked him where he was headed. Colombia. Flight leaves in 3 hours.
Well, mine leaves in 2, Gate C15
“Oh, that’s funny. I’m C14!,” he says, expectantly
I guess…do you want to come with me to my gate?
I mean, I had no idea what to do from there. I’ve never had the experience of standing below and airport monitor with a boy who went out of his way to pay me a compliment and was obviously interested in further conversation, and I couldn’t lie and tell him I was in a hurry (he can read the monitor, too, duh), and he was being very kind, so I…invited him to wait with me at my gate. The other option would have been to thank him and tell him goodbye and walk away, but that would have been rude and I don’t make a habit of doing Rude in return for Kindness.
So we walked. He offered to help me with my bags but no, I was just fine thanks. We sat down in the black, semi-comfortable chairs in the C15 area.
Are you really flying out of C14 next door?
"Haha, no. But you believed me didn’t you?"
Funny. Well, I guess we’re here now, so that’s that.
I’m a talker…a conversationalist both by nature and practice. So I can carry on hours of conversation with just about anyone, which is a wonderful skill to possess when you’re sitting at a gate for two hours with someone who followed you to an airport monitor, told you of your beauty, and proceeded to walk the 15 minute walk to C15 with you and the guitar on his back. So we talked. We’re both juniors, so we talked about college and travel (he was just in London for 3 months studying abroad and doing shows there) and about his family and his mom in Colombia who doesn’t speak any English. We talked about his extreme sporting and his guitar-playing and our siblings. He is not a citizen but has a green card, so we talked about that process and about all the stand-up hard working people who pay $500 every year to apply for a green card only to be denied time and again. He said that, by getting one, he had literally won the lottery, and he implored me at least a dozen times to not take my American citizenship for granted. “Everything is easier when you have an American passport,” he said. “For example, I had to obtain separate visas for every single country I entered in the European Union. But Americans don’t have to do that. Your passport is your ticket to the world.” We talked about how it is a strange thing, that where we’re born (an event over which we have exactly zero control) predicts so much of how our life will look and the sorts of things we’ll be able to do.
The talking killed the time, and I made a new friend, and just like that the gate agent called for Zone 1 and I said, “well, that’s me” and arose to give him a parting hug and wish him safe travels back to his country.
Ann Voskamp says, “when you are a space to receive whatever the will of God is in this moment as grace, you take hold of God. You most take hold of God when you simply receive Him in this moment taking hold of you,” and I think she’s right. That “relationship is the only reality” and “anywhere you make space for someone, you become a womb for God.”
We have enough.
Come, refugees. It is safe here. Our homes; our doors; our hearts are open to you. Because we believe in the God who created all that exists and promises us that He, the Creator of the Universe and the Maker of our Souls will always, always provide enough.