I’m not sure when I became aware of the Syrian refugee crisis, but I know it was due to Nicholas Kristof’s reporting and tweets about it. At first, I didn’t have much empathy. There are crises all over the world, and with the Internet you can be keenly aware of them all at the same time if you so choose. I’d like to think I will care about all the different crises and needs around the world, but beyond some simple prayers, and perhaps some slacktivism, I don’t get too involved. There are things I’m already involved with locally, and globally, where youths, individuals, and families are at risk. They are in need of basic provisions, in need of hope. I try and focus my energy, resources, and time, toward a few partnerships. However, Kristof’s dogged reporting on the Syrian refugee crisis kept drawing me in.
And then I saw this photo.
There are more disturbing photos, but this makes the point. A three-year old boy washes up on shore, dead, because he drowned while his family was trying to escape a civil war that was claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands.
It was hard to shake the photo and the story with it. Some people don’t like photos like this on the front pages of websites and newspapers, but I think we need to see it. We can’t avoid the reality of the crisis and pretend it’s not going on when we see an image like that.
What to do though? I can always pray. It’s good to be mindful, and raise awareness, but what can I do to help four million Syrian refugees?
This morning, I was reading a passage from Deuteronomy 14 about giving that helps the “foreigners” (refugees) amongst us. I looked out my window at thought of the Syrian refugees. I thought of my own boys. I thought of their reality, and then contrasted it with the three-year old Syrian boy who drowned and washed up on shore as his family tried to escape. I thought of his parents, and knowing full well if I was in their place I would probably be doing the same thing. Doing whatever it takes to give my kids a chance.
I resolved to give something. I felt like I was being prompted to.
There are a number of organizations that are helping refugees around the world, but I wanted to find something that had boots on the ground. I checked out CAMA Services, and found they had been involved with the Syrian refugee crisis for a few years. (CAMA Services is the relief and development arm of the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination. I’m licensed as a pastor with this denomination.) I decided to make a donation to this particular work.
There are people in need all around the world, and in our backyard. There are a number of worthwhile projects that are helping people that could use your energy, resources, and time. It’s easy to think our money can’t make a difference in the face of astronomical odds, but for someone it does make a difference. For me, today it was about responding to a prompt to help with the needs of Syrian refugees. Whatever it is for you, whether giving, praying, getting involved, or all of the above with a particular person or project…please act on it.
(Thank you, Nicholas Kristof, for shining a light on this darkness.)