Middle East STM 2017 - Reflection
It's been over a month now since I've returned from Iraq, and I think it's safe to say that my short time spent there has impacted me profoundly.
More than ever, I'm convicted of the importance of living our lives with eyes open to the pain, suffering, and needs of others, of caring about your neighbor who lives on the other side of the world, of striving to push towards being a global community that is passionate about our commonalities and how we can better each other's lives, rather than focus on our differences.
Like I've mentioned before, the Middle East is somewhere I've cared deeply about for a number of years now. The refugee crisis, in tandem with that, is also something my heart has broken for over and over again. But much like with my time spent in Nepal and having had it work its way deep down permanently into my heart, I've seen my peers and the people around me grow cold to the suffering splashed all over the front pages of our Internet browsers or media accounts we follow.
Two years after the devastating earthquakes in Nepal, people are still struggling struggling to rebuild their lives, still without any significant help from the government. But no one here in America talks about them anymore.
Two years after the onset of the current refugee crisis, more and more people continue to flee their homes with each day. Most are still living in temporary housing and are in need of basic necessities. But no one here in America talks about them anymore.
People have grown silent about something that once infuriated many, and mobilized some. Maybe it's reached this point where they are immune to it because the numbness serves as a coping mechanism. Maybe they've just gotten too caught up in their lives, or the freshness of these injustices have gotten old. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that an incomprehensible amount of need continues to exist, and grows with each day, and many have turned a blind eye to it.
The only point I have in somewhat too-passionately laying out my frustrations is in hopes that somehow, we in places of privilege can start to think about the ways in which we can help our neighbor.
I have some simple suggestions to get you started:
- Donate. If you are able to, consider donating to an organization doing meaningful work in places that need it the most. (my favorite is UNICEF, but you can do some research and find whatever org aligns with your passions) By putting your money in these organizations, your heart will be there also (honestly), and you'll find yourself more invested in what is going on around the world (or, even locally if you so choose). Also, because money.
- Prayer, of course. Prayer is POWER, and if you start off by choosing to pray for one country a week, or incorporating praying about your global brothers and sisters daily, you are already moving mountains through your prayers.
- Serve. This could mean going on your own short term mission trip (although in my opinion, there are a number of caveats that should be considered). I especially encourage people whose skills are especially needed in this particular time and place to take the initiative to go to places where there is a severe lack of these services (aka these refugee camps). This could mean doctors, nurses, PTs, OTs, etc. Regardless of whether or not you are able to go overseas, I truly believe change starts in our own neighborhoods (cheesy, I know), and this is something that can be catalyzed through volunteering locally, whether it's at a homeless shelter or something of the sort. In this way, you will begin to love your community more, to understand your neighbor more, and hopefully be able to eventually adopt a mindset that is centered around others.
Switching to a more hopeful note, God is moving and working in the Middle East, of that I have no doubt. The ways in which I witnessed and experienced His grace and furious power in Iraq opened my eyes to how deeply He loves this place. If you want to hear more, don't hesitate to reach out to me! Thank all for your support -- and please, please continue to keep the Middle East in your thoughts and prayers. If you only knew how much of a difference you are making in doing just that.