Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Story of Hope

There are a lot of opinions flying around right now about refugees from Syria, most from people who have never known even one.  

My friend is a medical professional in Jordan and serves Syrian refugees there, meeting women and children in their deep desperation with kindness and medical care. She and her team intentionally bear witness to the love and care of Jesus while respecting the faith of those they serve. 

I asked her, "What do you wish that people here in the United States knew about what you do overseas?" This is her answer.  

If you like what you read, would you consider making a gift of any size to my friend to help her continue this work? If you're interested, please contact me via email, PM or Facebook or leave a comment at the end of this post.)

I have loved all things medical since I can remember. From volunteering in hospitals and observing surgeries when I was in high school to field trips and being glued to every episode of ER when it was on television. 

I received my nursing degree from Baylor and it was in those college years that my eyes were open to something: the world. The world which holds within it; people of all different cultures, background, and languages.  I had the opportunity to travel to to other countries on medical trips and my heart and life were never the same. 

There was something deep within that called out as I held babies and saw the tears of the suffering. And my soul was forever changed...the quiet, tender voice of God began calling me forward to live and work among another culture besides my own. I said yes.

The yes was a journey of several years, various trips and questions, doors opening and closing. But there was one door that swung so wide open last year in 2014, that I knew the time had come, this was the opportunity before me to walk into. So I moved to the Middle East, to Jordan, a country that borders Syria. Jordan has taken in more than a million Syrian refugees. I had taken a trip there in 2013 to work with the Syrian people  and this was one of the seeds planted within my heart to call me back to work among them full time as a nurse.

I don’t have all the answers to the Syrian refugee crisis. But I can tell you what I’ve seen during my time of working with them. 

There is a common thread we can all relate to with the Syrian people. The desire to survive horrible tragedy and the hope for a better future. This is what I’ve seen with my Syrian friends and the glimpse I want to give you into their hearts and lives:  their resiliency. 

And so many times, when I thought I was there to help and serve them~ they would be taking me in to their home and serving me coffee, tea, and food. They have been some of my greatest teachers of care, respect, and compassion. The deep cultural value to honor your guests and welcome the stranger have touched my heart and made me know I have a place in a culture and country that is not my own, among a people fleeing for their own lives.

I have the privilege of volunteering in a clinic in which the Syrian people have access to medical and dental care. Our team also does education classes and medical follow up visits in their homes. Our vision that I would like to invite you into is this: To see a restored, deeply rooted Syrian community that is a beacon of light, reproducing new life.

I know what you are seeing in the news, but I want to encourage your heart today that there is another story in the Middle East. 

One of hope, redemption, and God’s love breaking through barriers, and bringing people together of a different background, language and culture. It’s the beauty of the kingdom of God that Jesus talked so much about in the gospels. 

I am constantly learning over there. Messing up and learning really. The one for sure thing I have learned is that it can only be sacrificial love that can bring change at the deepest level of our souls. The kind of love that says yes before you know the person’s background or story. Yes, I’ll help you, yes, I see you in your pain and suffering. Yes, you are worthy.

I don’t think the policies of the United States or the United Nations can never be enough to touch the deepest need. Would you join me in great expectation and faith that there is a story of hope He is weaving in this region?

A few things for you to know:

*The civil war in Syria has gone on now for over 5 years.

*Syria is a country of 20 million people, with over half of them now internally displaced within their own country, or have been forced to flee to a neighboring country.

*Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan have taken in the vast amount of the Syrian refugees.

*The majority of the Syrian refugees are women and children.

*If they do return to Syria, each family faces the possibility of their remaining men in the family to be forced to fight for the army or to be killed in retaliation for leaving or if there was some suspicion they had any kind of tie to the rebel army.

*There is a complex layer of issues that are forcing many to want to flee to Europe, including the fact that Syrians can not legally work in Lebanon, Turkey or Jordan. The World Food Program had a funding crisis that stretched its budget very thin, thus drastically cutting a big source of food aid to Syrian families. This combined with the fact that the ongoing civil war in Syria has left behind a country filled with an uncertain future, has led many Syrians to think long-term and how to survive. 

When it comes down to it, they are a people who want to be able to live and have a better life, free from the threat of death, and lack of needed resources.

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