I’ve spent the last two hours with headphones over my ears, tears streaming down my cheeks as I read about the Refugee crisis that is happening right now, today, in our world. I read about the fact that 7.6 million people are currently displaced, having been torn from their homes, their jobs, their lives and left to escape with only the clothes on their backs. I read that girls that are the same age as my own precious kids are being sold into slavery for a mere $170. I read that we are currently facing the largest refugee crisis that has happened in the world since WWII. Yes, WWII. I read how German and Austrian citizens are welcoming refugees with open arms, carrying them across borders into safety and immediately giving them a tiny glimmer of hope with warm food and warm clothes to get them started.
And I feel so helpless.
So small, insignificant, so…impossibly unable.
But as I sit here in my comfortable home, in my safe world, with my beautiful and healthy children just upstairs laughing as they play a game of Uno, I realize that I am far from helpless, powerless or unable. I may be unwilling. Or uncomfortable. But I am not powerless.
Y’all, this crisis isn’t about politics. Or religion. It’s not about borders that need to be secured or people infringing on our lives and our jobs. It’s not about crime and punishment or even about a civil war that is taking place on the other side of the world. It’s about humanity. About human beings just like you and me. Mothers who have probably sat in their own homes reading the news just like I did today and trembling in fear. It’s about giggling children, too young to know much about the world they were born in, playing their own games, unable to even comprehend the significance of the events taking place around them. It’s about fathers fighting to protect their families, about homes torn apart, about worlds destroyed.
It’s about human beings.
Humans who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Who cannot fall asleep tonight with the comfort of knowing their children will be safe when they wake up.
It’s about babies. Children. Mothers. Fathers. Aunts. Uncles. Grandparents.
And you know what else? It’s also about you and me.
I think the most frightening thought I’ve had as I’ve read the news today is the chance that we will let history repeat itself. That we as a society will allow complacency to seep in, and we will become yet another generation that doesn’t wake up in time. That turns our eyes away as atrocities against humanity are perpetrated right in front of our eyes. That we will close our eyes, turn back to living our lives and forget about those who need us so desperately.
The words “worst refugee crisis since WWII” should terrify us. They should remind us that there was a time in the not-so-distant past when millions of people just like you and I were faced with a choice: To take action or to turn their eyes. And sadly, many people turned away. They turned to their safe families, to their comfortable houses and said, “That’s sad, and I pray someone will help.” And then they did nothing.
They let themselves be helpless.
And in turn, millions of lives were destroyed.
You guys, we cannot let it happen again. I can’t bear the thought of my own grandchildren looking at me and saying, “But did you know? What did you do?” I can’t bear the thought of more lives destroyed, more children drowned, more mothers with empty arms, more pain, more atrocity.
I for one, want to say, “Refugees Welcome.” I want to say, “Yes, let me help!” I want to say all the things that seem so difficult to say and so much harder to do.
Because I can’t let stories like the ones I read today define our generation.
Not when we can be the ones who say yes.
And who can be the hands and feet of Christ to the ones who need us so much.
Want to help?
I recognize that every single one of us is in a different place in our lives. I recognize that we all have our own issues, our own problems. I recognize that we are facing our own crises. (The city of Austin flooded leaving thousands homeless just months ago.) But y’all, this isn’t an either/or thing. This is a both/and thing. We cannot turn our eyes right now. On our own lives, on our own communities OR on the refugees. Every single one of us can help in some way. And I’d like to challenge each of you to do one little thing– today– that will contribute to a million little actions that will make a huge difference. Just one thing.
Here are some of the ways you can help.
- Get with a group of friends or your community group an sponsor a refugee family for 3-6 months, helping them get acclimated to your community, find housing, find jobs, learn English and enroll their children in school. Learn more.
- Take a photo of yourself holding a sign that says #refugeeswelcomehere and tweet it. Tag your representative.
- Support MOAS– The Migrant Offshore Aid Station— as they have saved more than 11,000 lives so far. Donations as little as $10 make a huge difference.
- Contact your local Refugee Resettlement Network and see if there is a family in your community who needs your help.
- Watch your local news to see if any local food banks or resettlement homes are helping refugees. Volunteer. Send supplies.
- If you’d like to help Syrian refugees stranded on the Greek Island of Lesvos, see the list below, and mail to:
Hellenic Postal Office of Mythymna
℅ The Captain’s Table
Molyvos 81108, Lesvos, Greece
ITEMS TO SEND for SYRIAN REFUGEES on GREEK ISLAND OF LESVOS:
Sneakers, gym shoes for men, women and children (all sizes) are a HIGH PRIORITY
Sweatpants of all sizes.
Briefs/underwear for men, women and children (all sizes)
Men’s trousers (small, medium and large) and shoes
Baby powder milk
Any non-perishables like nut butters or other long-lasting foods.
Plastic to cover the floor/for shade
Mats (camping or yoga mats)
Hats and caps for sunshade (adults and children/light colours because of the sun)
Electric Plug for multiple devices (european voltage)