Compassion and the Syrian migrant crisis

Compassion and the Syrian migrant crisis

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America needs to come together to do the right thing for the Syrian refugees.


WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2015 – As crazy as it may sound, hope for the future may reside in the Syrian refugee crisis. Instead of fighting over the refugee crisis, it’s time to stop attacking each other, grab this moment and come together to do the right thing.

Americans are incredibly charitable in big ways like responding to natural disasters and small ones like “paying it forward” for someone’s Starbucks. We can harness this impulse to help the refugees and use it to unite us rather than divide us.

After more than four years of civil war in Syria and the rise of ISIS, the people of America, not just the politicians and pundits, are having conversations over dinner tables and at community meetings about how to help the refugees.

Bits and pieces of the conflicts in the Middle East have briefly stirred the conscience of America. Remember President Obama’s red line over Syria’s use chemical weapons in 2013 or the dramatic relief effort in Iraq for the Yazidis in the summer of 2014? After new developments sparked a mass migration into Europe this summer, many Americans have been awakened to the crisis once again.

Perhaps the attacks of radical Islamists in Paris, Mali, Beirut, Sinai and Kenya will keep America’s attention on this devastating situation a little longer.

Most Americans agree that we should help the refugees. To borrow a line from Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham”: “Should we help them here or there, should we help them anywhere?” We should help them, and we seem to want to help them. So let’s do it. Let’s provide the refugees with shelter, food, medical care and some semblance of security.

But where? Should it be near their home, in Europe or in America?

Many on the right feel that the military can make a safe zone in Syria that will stem the flow of migrants to Europe and reduce the need to relocate them in America. They are concerned that the jihadis might infiltrate the refugees.

Many on the left want to avoid further military involvement in Syria and Iraq, preferring to help refugees escape the war zone. They feel that the background checks performed on those coming to America will screen out any who wish us harm.

There can be a compromise. Whatever is decided, it will take precious time because the wheels of government grind slowly.

Americans can take action now.

As we prayed for the people of Paris, we can pray for the refugees in the Middle East. One of the great things about prayer is that it is not a one-way conversation. In your prayers be open to the thoughts that come to you about how you can help.

This spark of compassion can unite us as Americans. Being compassionate is not only important because Jesus said so or because it is the right thing to do. It is important as a way to show gratitude. The desire to care for others is a reflection of gratitude to God for the blessings of life and liberty.

Now is the time to put our gratitude into action and put our money where our compassion is – regardless of which side of the refugee debate you are on.

There are a number of organizations helping the refugees right now that could use your support. Talk to your family and friends and come up with a plan to send some money or raise funds to support the organization of your choice. Check to see if your church, synagogue or mosque is already helping. Do a simple search to find a group whose passion for the refugees matches your own.

If you have suggestions, put them in the comment section. I personally support Samaritan’s Purse, whose work helps people of all faiths: I also support two organizations that help the Christian communities ISIS has targeted for extinction: the Cradle Fund, and Mercury One/Nazarene Fund, Mercury One has collected over $12 million and is working to relocate Christian refugees outside the Middle East.

Help where your heart leads you. May you feel the blessing of putting your compassion into action.

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