I lie in my bed, my own baby sleeping in the next room and give thanks for him and hold the babies on the border up to God. I pray for children displaced from their homes, running for their lives as their chubby fingers reach for their mothers who are being trafficked and shackled into sex slavery in epic proportion in exchange for the lies and false promises of smugglers. I cry for the little ones coughing in the cold night air hoping to be welcomed, to find safety and refuge.
I am no government official or policy maker, I’m no military strategist or counter terror expert, I’m just a mama and a Jesus follower and a student of the horrors of ages old violence done in the name of God, and I can’t help but think about all those babies.
I remember fondly time spent in Syria a few years ago. I remember the vivid colors, bright smiles and pungent smells. I remember warm, educated, sophisticated people, multi-generational families gathered for worship in the Church of our Lady in Sednaya. I remember standing in caves, struck silent by the thrum of the stories told by the cold rocky walls carved out of the earth where the earliest Christians had taken refuge, those who had fled persecution in Jerusalem and re-located in haste to Antioch. I dined with friends as the table of abundance was spread out before me, I held hands with new believers and prayed for their keeping and care in these uncertain days.
I walked down Straight Street in Damascus to find the home of Ananias just as the apostle Paul had done before me, used the wifi at a tavern named after the one sent to the Gentiles by way of the Jews. Took tea at the Convent of St. Thecla and prayed in Koine Greek on top of a mountain with a priest keeping watch in the chapel of the Sepharim. I think of them, see their faces in my dreams, I think of those babies dressed in ruffles and lace bouncing on their parents’ proud knees.
I am sorry for everyone in the world tonight who is afraid—for those who live in the city of lights and for those who wait for help in a makeshift tent in a camp between here and there, for people who live in Indiana and Tennessee who are frightened because the wars that have always been “over there” have now moved in “over here.”
As the narrative unfolds before our eyes, around the clock media coverage takes over our lives and fear grabs us by the throat and dares us to open wide our hearts to people in need, I cannot help but think about the stories of Scripture and how God’s people have always been on the run.
From Abraham and Sarah to Jacob and Joseph, to Moses and Miriam, Ruth and Naomi and David the shepherd before he was king. I think of the refugee child, Jesus, the baby who came to be our hope, whose parents were turned away when they sought safety from the cold and terrors of the wild to bring him into the world. The baby, whose parents, upon discovering a genocidal plot led by a tyrant king fled for their lives in the cover of night to take refuge in another land far from the reach of the murderous monarch. And suddenly, all those years ago don’t seem so far away and the stories we grew up on speak across the epochs of our histories and we are invited again to welcome the stranger and to know Christ in her while we cling to the angels’ sweet refrain, “Do not be afraid.”