So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them: "I'm here to introduce you to this God.... He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him!" ~Acts 17
In January of this year, I traveled to Lebanon with a small team from my church to gather stories from Syrian and Iraqi refugees displaced by the civil war in Syria and the conflict in Iraq.
The unrest in the Middle East has unleashed an historical humanitarian crisis. More than two million have fled Iraq. In an attempt to escape the Syrian civil war, over three million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon (which alone has almost 1.8 million refugees within its borders). Millions more are displaced within the borders of Syria.
To record my journey and the storiesI gathered there, I created a space called For Such a Time is Now. Every so often, I will be cross posting stories here on In the Open Space because this issue is something I care deeply about--and frankly, these stories need to be brought into as many open spaces as possible.
Many of the stories are heartbreaking. Many of the refugees have lost family members—husbands, wives, children, siblings, parents—to the conflicts or on their journeys out of Syria or Iraq. Many fled with little more than the clothes they were wearing and what they could carry. Most are living in make-shift tent settlements or in apartments crowded with multiple families. The children, who have no access to school, are often sent out to beg or work.
Those of us who live in North America and Europe are in a unique position. Compared to the refugees, many of us abound in wealth, influence and resources. We have the power to speak for those who do not have a voice (Proverbs 31:8-9). I am haunted by Mordecai’s conversation with Esther, who struggled with how much she might have to sacrifice in order to use her position of power and influence to speak for a whole people suffering and in danger. “Who knows,” he challenges her. “Maybe you were made queen for such a time as this.” Perhaps we are a population of Esthers whose wealth and resources were given for such a time as now.
Over the coming months, I will continue to add stories and photos to that site in hopes of raising awareness of the crisis and encouraging people to learn more about ways to help. I hope you will check in periodically with For Such a Time is Now and share what you learn with your family, friends, church and others.
Together, we can make a significant difference in the lives of those who are suffering.