Lenten Rememberings – Syria

P1350045Today there are nearly 5 million registered Syrian Refugees. This means that these millions of people have fled their homeland, are staying in a second country and have applied for refugee status. Once they receive their official refugee status from the UNHCR, they can then apply to a third county for resettlement. This process is tedious, with only the first step of applying for refugee status taking anywhere from eighteen months to three years. The second step of applying to a third country for resettlement can take up to two years. One third of refugees today live in a camp somewhere and their average stay is seventeen years. While there are more than 20 million refugees in the world today, less than 1% will ever be resettled in a third country.

These numbers are staggering to me and this doesn’t even take into account the number of displaced people within Syria or those who have crossed borders and have not registered officially as refugees.

These refugees are people like us.

Hard-working fathers.

Brave and strong mothers.

Wise grandmas and doting grandpas.

Ornery toddlers and elementary kids with big dreams.

Beautiful babies and crazy but awesome teenagers.

People like us.

If they are fortunate enough to make it out of their war-torn country which has taken all they have and ground it to dust, breaking their hearts and their bodies, they are then relegated to a tent among thousands of other tents. Here are some images from various refugee camps to help give some perspective. In talking together as a family tonight after a meal of Fattoush and Manoushi, a Syrian flatbread, my thirteen-year-old reminded us of the trauma these folks have endured and of the nightmares they have at night. Even while removed from immediate terror, the violence of their past still haunts them.

I’m tired of fear closing the doors to people in need. I follow One who lived bravely, took risks, and hung out with those in need, One who simplified the greatest commandments to loving God and then loving other humans as much as we love ourselves.

What does it mean to love someone who exists in a tent having lost everything or someone who has lived her whole life running while bombs drop in the background? I grow weary of people who enjoy every physical comfort imaginable justifying a tightening of our nations borders in such a time of great need.

Friends, we have so much!

Let’s not be so afraid of change or death that we stop living.