Tag Archives: Syria

Syrian Refugees: What Would Jesus Do?

And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22:35-40 NET]

Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’ Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” [Luke 10:25-37 NET]

It is difficult at times to write about the application of Christian doctrine to our lives without getting cynical. We try very hard to avoid sounding off on Veracity. But, I have to admit that the self-absorption with American politics that we see in the media is disturbing. In a world full of suffering—that desperately needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be applied in relief efforts—we are drowning in a sea of political rhetoric that panders to isolationists and preys upon their fears. Don’t agree? Turn on any news program and count the minutes devoted to American politics. Also, while you’re watching, keep track of the minutes devoted to the four million refugees inside and fleeing Syria.

The Crisis in Photographs
Syrian Refugees

A sea of hungry, haunted faces looks out from a massive queue that snakes through the bombed out Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Syria. In the photo, taken on January 31, 2014 in Damascus’ Palestinian refugee camp, men, women, and children were in line for aid that included desperately needed food and medical supplies. There were more than 18,000 people in the Yarmouk camp, and many were starving to death.

Syria – Save the Children

Syria – Save the Children

Syrian Migrants

Migrants are escorted through fields by Slovenian police and the army as they walk from the village of Rigonce to Brezice refugee camp in October, 2015. (Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)

Syrian 7

Millions of Syrians escape an apocalyptic civil war, creating a historic crisis.

Wounded Syrian Girl

A wounded Syrian girl stands in a makeshift hospital in the rebel-held area of Douma, east of Syria’s capital of Damascus, following shelling and air raids by Syrian government forces on August 22, 2015. At least 20 civilians were killed, and another 200 wounded or trapped in Douma, a monitoring group said, just six days after regime airstrikes killed more than 100 people and sparked international condemnation of one of the bloodiest government attacks in Syria’s war.

A paramilitary police officer investigates the scene before carrying the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, after a number of refugees died and others were reported missing when boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum on September 2, 2015. The tides also washed up the bodies of the boy's 5-year-old brother Ghalib and their mother Rehan on Turkey's Bodrum peninsula. Their father, Abdullah, survived the tragedy.

A paramilitary police officer investigates the scene before carrying the lifeless body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, after a number of refugees died and others were reported missing when boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum on September 2, 2015. The tides also washed up the bodies of the boy’s 5-year-old brother Ghalib and their mother Rehan on Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula. Their father, Abdullah, survived the tragedy.

A Dutch volunteer tries to comfort a migrant moments after arriving aboard a raft at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos October 23, 2015.

A Dutch volunteer tries to comfort a migrant moments after arriving aboard a raft at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos on October 23, 2015.

A Syrian refugee family with a Lebanon Bible Society aid package. The Bible Society provides aid for around 3,000 Syrian refugee families.

A Syrian refugee family with a Lebanon Bible Society aid package. The Bible Society provides aid for around 3,000 Syrian refugee families.

Pastoral Comment

After publishing this post, one of our astute readers called the following video to our attention. Pastor Max Vanderpool of Generations Community Church in Kentucky hit the nail on the head. We need to wake up and be vocal about what is happening. We need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. The world is full of hatred and fear and self-absorption. Get involved. Show some compassion. That’s what Jesus would do!

What Can We Do?

Here are four organizations that provide aid to Syrian refugees, and others in the Middle East, in the name of Jesus Christ. Please consider clicking the links below to learn more about them and their relief efforts. Please use the donate links to make your year-end charitable contributions to show that you understand Jesus’ teaching in Luke 10:25-37.

World Vision Syrian Refugee Fund (Donate)

Christian Aid Mission (Donate for Shinar Mission)

Open Doors USA (Donate)

Samaritans Purse (Donate)

 


Christians in Assad’s Syria

Maaloula, St. Takla Convent, Syria.   Refugees from the Syrian civil war are hiding here as of early, September, 2013.  Residents of this village still speak a dialect derived from the ancient Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke.

Maaloula, St. Takla Convent, Syria. Refugees from the Syrian civil war are hiding here as of early, September, 2013. Residents of this village still speak a dialect derived from the ancient Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke.

As of early September, 2013, the world has been shocked by reports of chemical weapons being used in the civil war in Syria.   Numerous reports in the media argue that President Bashar al-Assad was behind these attacks. This horrible tragedy surely deserves at least some response.   But what kind of response?

Philip Jenkins is a renowned evangelical historian at Baylor University.   He has studied extensively the history of Christianity in the Middle East and the rest of the Mediterranean region.    Jenkins recently wrote an editorial piece giving his view that the lessons of church history should give American leaders caution in their response to the situation in Syria.  In particular, will a military intervention in Syria help or hurt the existing Christian community in Syria?

Jenkins’ position is that military intervention in Syria will not only hurt the Christians, it could ultimately lead to the annihilation of the Christian community in that country.  Pretty strong words.

Sadly, many American Christians are largely ignorant about the history of Christianity in this part of the world.  As I have tried to show with the recent situation in Egypt, the issues are exceedingly complex.   Frankly, I am not sure what the clear answer is on what to do.   But what I do know is that most Christians in the Middle East and particularly in Syria itself oppose outside intervention into Syria’s internal problems.   Assad is not the nicest guy in the world.  That much is over-abundantly clear.  But Christians in the region have looked to Assad and his family for many years for at least some protection from Islamic extremists.   What will happen to an already persecuted church if the country is further destabilized?

Perhaps you might have a completely different view.   Perhaps Jenkins is mistaken. There is much that I do not know.  Nevertheless, as a Christian in America what I do know that it is my duty and responsibility to listen to my brothers and sisters in Christ in Syria and make a better effort to fully understand their history and appreciate their situation today in view of the present crisis.


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