Today has been a spiritually insane day. It's been way full of seeing people who are being filled and moved by the Holy Spirit and seeing and feeling a lot of spiritual warfare. Oh man, settle in folks. I'm pretty fired up here. Okay here we go. If you aren't caught up on news in the Middle East from the last decade, I gotchu. [mostly for my benefit and because a lot of people just aren't 100% sure what the deal is.] If you wan't a good overview, here is a timeline: http://www.historyguy.com/list_of_wars_middle_east.html
Basically, since 2006, there has been a war in the Middle East which had affected a multitude of countries. Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, a lot of countries are affected, not just from the war but other issues politically, economically, religiously, and government wise. So for the past ten years and previous to that, refugees are seeking a safe place to move. A large population have traveled, and continues to travel, to/through Europe and to North America.
I had the opportunity today to meet and eat with and hear the stories of refugees from all over the Middle East through an organization called Voices of Refugees. VOR is an organization that provides services to refugees when they arrive in the U.S. They teach ESL, provide transportation, education, job services, and assist in many other helpful and important ways to provide their needs. Their stories are incredible. Everyone we had the opportunity to speak to came to America after the war started. They all came here with no knowledge of English and no international licenses. They all had no idea if the family and friends they were leaving in their home countries would even be alive when they reached America. Two of the four refugees we spoke to now work for VOR. The first man we talked to gave us incredible advice. You could seriously see the Holy Spirit working inside of him. It was like Pentecost up in there. He told us "When you meet these people, offer to help them and be there for them. If you are rude and selfish then they will say 'I don't want the Jesus they have if he is anything like that.'". So good. He also said something super powerful, "You can't teach people to love. There is no class to take to learn how to love people". That's amazing. Seriously. Whip out your notebooks and write that one down. You can't just take a class and learn how to be a model of Jesus's love. It's a lifestyle. It's a choice you make everyday. It's so important for us to learn who Jesus is so we can imitate his love.
The rest of the stories we heard were heartbreaking, but at the same time you could see how God was working so visibly in their lives, though the hurts.
The most important thing I pulled out of this experience was the importance of being Jesus to people who don't know Jesus. People get really fired up about immigrants entering our country. Not a lot of people are really happy about it. A lot of people don't like to deal with it as a church. It's hard. And it really is terrifying. Everyday, we are seeing Isis and radical Islamic groups terrorize people in our country and around the globe. We see them violently murder Christians. We see Muslims who have dramatically turned from peaceful Islam rape, kill, and attack. And we're scared. We have let Satan take Islam and turn it into a word that creates fear and chaos around the world. And as hard as it is to differentiate, we have to. We have to be able to say not all refugees are Muslim. Not all Muslims are terrorists. And whichever they are, they need the church, the American church and the global church, to love them with the arms of Christ. God is doing amazing things with Muslims. There are millions of stories right now of Muslims having visions or dreams and coming to know Christ and accepting salvation on their own. Obviously He knows what up and He knows what He is doing. Obviously we need to be alert and, as individuals and as a country, we need to protect ourselves. But as Christians and followers of Christ, we HAVE to be the people who introduce Christ and His love to the refugees we come in contact with. We can't show them a Jesus that is insensitive and cruel. They need the loving arms of Christ and His church.
KYLE LOVES TORI PHOTOGRAPHY