"Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest." -John 4:35
The picture above is part of a makeshift refugee camp of 3,200 people. Conditions are bleak, as you can see: very unsanitary, lack of clean water, electricity, etc. Kids are getting sick from preventable diseases. In this valley alone there are over 200 camps such as this, and many more to come as the war rages on.
Our partners are committed to this camp and many others like them. They provide food and household items, they teach basic hygiene and community health, and they provide schooling for the children.
Just as important, our partners are committed to building relationships with the families: visiting them in their tents, offering a listening ear to the trauma they have endured, praying with them in the name of Jesus, and seeking to share the Good News of Christ's love for them. The strong bonds of friendship between our partners and these families, were quite evident, in spite of religious and political differences. As one Muslim man said: "My family has received no help from other Muslims. But these Christians are helping us. Why would they do this?"
That man, and many like him, has been drawn to the love of the Savior through the love of His children. That man, and many like him, has experienced new life in Christ as a result of the selfless acts of love shown by His people.
Daily we hear about the bad news coming from the Middle East. There's a lot of it going around. But I want to tell you there is good news that the media is not reporting, news of many people setting aside long, historic grudges and choosing to love their enemies. These enemies--the Syrian people-- were once strong, dominant and cruel. Now so many of them are weak, desperate, and running for their lives. And now they have run to the people they once ruled over--some of whom have offered forgiveness and mercy.
On this trip, our team witnessed the power of the gospel of Jesus on full display.
Only the power of God can change a man's heart from hate to love. We went to the Middle East expecting to see suffering. And we did. But we also saw "love so amazing, so divine." We saw it on display in the lives of ordinary people who choose love over hate. And we saw it in the healing of deep soul wounds of refugees who are recipients of this love.
Jesus of Nazareth holds the patent on loving one's enemies. He taught the people to love their enemies in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:43-45). He demonstrated love for the very people who tortured and killed him ("Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34). Then he offered us, his enemies, eternal life in spite of our rejection of Him ("but God shows us his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Rom 5:8).
I am not ashamed to call myself a Jesus follower. The tenets of our faith in Him are currently on full display, in all of their glory, in the Middle East.
There is still so much hate-- the centuries-old vendetta sort of hate. Yet in that toxic swirling sea of bitterness, vengeance and death, we witnessed something else... Love's triumph over hate... Mercy's triumph over vengeance... Life's triumph over death.
This is our gospel.
Among those refugees who have encountered this gospel, there are millions more who have not. Truly the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Luke 10:2).
Please pray that the Lord Jesus will send more laborers into His harvest field. Please pray for peace in the Middle East.
Thank you for partnering with us on our journey.