In a few short days, my husband and I will be taking a team to the Syrian border in Jordan to love, serve, and learn from our Syrian neighbors who are refugees in the region. I’m pretty sure I am not supposed to say this, but here’s the deal: I don’t feel the couple of weeks we spend abroad is some wildly meaningful act towards the wonderful people we encounter.
I mean sure, we bring medications, distribute some humanitarian aid, help at the local school, and have gallons of tea with the most amazing people you could ever encounter; but what we are doing in our short time is helpful ― not wildly heroic by any means.
So what’s the point? Why do/should we even go?
Well, here is my blatantly honest answer ― I hope this encounter wrecks the hearts of our participants. Those who are brave enough to take some bold steps towards first-handedly Loving our neighbors whom our nation falsely calls our enemy, my desire is the world they thought they knew is ruined forever.
Okay okay, I know that sounded a bit dramatic. I’ll expand on what I mean.
The dehumanization of the “other” in this country seems to be ingrained in our hearts to the point we don’t even know it exists in us. I mean, we are seeing incredibly hateful policies that hurt the most vulnerable supported by those who claim to be following the ways of a radical peacemaker ― a guy who loved bolder than any. Does that make sense to you? It shouldn’t. I’ve searched the Red Letters ― they don’t align.
So, my true hope for this trip is that our massive American egos ― which we tend to be harmfully oblivious to ― are humbled immensely. Though we may go with a desire to save the world, it is often our world that is saved when we dare to take bigger and bolder steps to pursue love.
You see, when you arrive at the single room home of a beautiful family whose story you couldn’t even attempt to fathom and are greeted with the biggest smiles and kisses from joyful children who have lost everything, something inside you breaks. When you walk into the simple four concrete walls with but a few cushions on the floor, and though you know this family has literally almost nothing, they bring you amazing tea and sweets and invite you to come back for a big meal, something inside you breaks. And when a young girl who has but a few small toys, pulls out a sparkling green bead - a treasure of hers - and puts it in your hand as a beautiful gift she wants you to have, everything inside you shatters.
You can’t simply return home to your normal routine because you can’t undo what broke inside and to your core, you know you have to do more, learn more, and Love more boldly. What you just experienced is the pure genuine kindness of a stranger. A stranger who your country has turned their backs on while contributing to the war in which they lost their entire lives, a stranger who truly is justified to hate you but choose instead to show you a Love like you have never encountered, a love that deep down you know you didn’t deserve.
And the thing that will really sting, is the realization that we have always had the power to boldly Love and learn, even here, in our own communities. There was never a rationale not to embrace our amazing neighbors who are refugees, Muslims, or immigrants, with love here at home. It all comes to light; we have no excuse not to be the change that we need in our world.
So my desire through these trips is bigger than a few weeks of distributions abroad because domestically our hearts are drowning in apathy. We are capable of more. We are capable of a love that breaks misconceptions. A contagious love that infects our hearts, our city, our state, our nation, and our world; a love in which the ripple effect would spread like a wildfire as it turns hate and fear to ash. This love would be wildly meaningful not only for our souls, but for our neighbors around the world. This love is in fact heroic, this love can change the world.