Martha Brooks is a wife, mom, blogger, and for a season volunteered in our women’s English program. Read more by her over at Savor the Crazy.
I was very hesitant to write this post.
I know people who are now giving their time, energy, comfort—their very lives, in the middle of the war-torn area of the world that is home to the refugees I have been viewing in slideshows, on websites, and on blogs.
These people know there is a problem. No, not a problem; a crisis. They know all about the refugee camps, the broken families, the children scarred by the things they have been forced to witness, the mothers who won’t let their children out of their sight to even use the bathroom, the teenagers who will never get any further with their education, the pastor who fled without even his Bible.
Me? I’m pretty comfy here in my suburban American life. Got no reason to go to that seemingly God-forsaken area, other than the time I went to see the Holy sites. (Jesus was born here! Buy a keychain!)
But about a week ago, a picture was published that woke me up.
You know that name because you, too, have seen the pictures. He was three. Only God knows what he had seen in his mere 1,000 days here on Earth. Something his parents witnessed told them it was time to get out.
So Aylan and his family got on a boat.
Because there are fates worse than death.
For me, it took seeing Aylan for the nightly news stories to become more than just that. Today my heart is breaking.
I have nothing to offer. We are a family of five and frankly, living off of a teacher’s salary, are literally $56 away from being eligible for government assistance. I am busy with our three children. I am not even a very good person. I yell at our kids, argue with my husband, and sometimes skip my “Quiet Time.” I cannot possibly help anyone until I get myself together.
So no money, no spiritual insight…I got nothing.
That is Satan whispering right into my heart.
The Holy Spirit says, “I will give you the words. (Matthew 10:19) I will provide your needs. (Matthew 6:25-34) I will give you wisdom (Proverbs 2:6-7) when you ask. (James 1:5)”
So here I sit at my laptop. Sharing a bit of what God led us to do.
Ann Voskamp, author and blogger and speaker and servant of the Living God, whom I do not know personally but adore just the same, published a graphic showing what was needed by the “boots on the ground” in Greece. I wanted to do something tangible by sending something off that list.
But remember the teacher’s salary? Every dollar, already budgeted.
Then it just so happened that I cleaned out a purse and found an old gas gift card we had purchased when there was some deal about getting extra fuel points by buying gift cards last winter. When I checked the balance it still had $81 on it.
You know when you put on your jacket you haven’t worn since last season and you find a $5 bill jammed into the pocket and you are so pumped? This was so much better than that. It meant an extra night out! Movie and dinner! Woohoo!
But I had just spent the morning weeping over Aylan.
So we decided to take the money saved on gas and go shopping.
Our daughters had recently been given some money by their great-aunt, and we encouraged them to put in a little of their own money, too. They were resistant. I showed them some pictures that showed the magnitude of the crisis without being too much for small children.
I expressed my disappointment to my husband, lamenting that we aren’t parenting well enough. What can I say? What can I do to get my daughters to pitch in? The allure of a trip up and down the Toys R Us aisles was pulling harder than the needs of a person thousands of miles from them.
And my girls, like many American children, have been sheltered. Oh, so sheltered. And given gifts and showered with nothing but love for all of their sweet lives. The misery much of the world is living in daily is inconceivable to them.
Part of me loves that, and part of me wants to open their eyes, not so they feel guilty for the life we live, but so they are spurred on to give. To give sacrificially. To give a most loved toy so a child without one will be blessed. Not to pull the dirty doll from the bottom of the pile. To forego a movie ticket so another child can eat.
The whole family, armed with the list, went to Target that evening to shop for something we could send. Lots of sneakers were on clearance, and that was listed as a high priority item, so we went to the shoe department. I wanted to spend about $50, saving about $30 for the shipping costs.
And then God moved.
One girl said, “I’ll put in $25 of my own money.” The other two quickly said they would, too, so now we had $75 plus the $50.
More shoes in the basket. When we reached $125, I told them to stop.
“But, Mommy, this pair is on clearance, too! I’ll give $30 of my own money!” Shoes into the basket.
“And these! I’ll give more!”
“Look at these! I’ll give more, too!” Pretty soon the girls had pledged $103 dollars of the money their aunt had given them. I was teary again. Wiping the mascara off my face in the middle of Target.
God moved in a life changing way on the shoe aisle at Target. I pray those girls will always remember what was going on in their hearts that night.
This is being called the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. More people have been displaced than from the Haiti earthquake, Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami combined.
God is moving in your heart. Will you listen? The voice of the naysayers is so much louder. “There are too many refugees to be able to make a difference. There are so many needs here in our own country. I gave at the office. I am too wretched to be of service to anyone.”
Those things are true. I, too, look around and am astounded by the brokenness and the injustices in our own country. And maybe you have given your resources elsewhere.
But what about prayer?
This is so often overlooked as having any value. Our prayers are quick, thanking God for the day, asking for His protection and blessing.
And God tells us to devote ourselves to prayer, praying about everything, without ceasing. It seems like it’s pretty important to Him. Even Jesus Himself is constantly in prayer.
We can all, without exception, pray.
But if you want to do more?
And if you feel a tug, I encourage you to volunteer. SGI offers commitments of only a few hours a week. Last winter I spent one morning a week teaching English to some Middle Eastern women. It cost me nothing but my time. They were eager to learn, beautiful women, cheerful, so appreciative of what we were offering.
And they were Muslim.
I am praying about where He will use me and my family next. I am praying He will keep my heart soft. I am praying He will wake up the Church to what has been happening for the past four years. I am praying we will be conscious of it long after the 24 hours news cycle has moved on to the next news story.
I don’t want to miss the Quiet Voice; the One not in the strong wind or the earthquake. (1 Kings 19:11-12) The One telling me to buy shoes or to teach English; to write an article, or to pray.