Amidst all the media noise this week, one story stood out to me: a little Syrian refugee boy, washed ashore in Turkey. The image blew me away. This little three year old boy, he had a name…Alyan. Upon hearing his name (so much like mine) I wept for him and his family. Fleeing their war-torn country, they were seeking to find refuge in Canada.
I can’t do anything for Alyan, but I can treat foreigners in my own community with honor and love them like Jesus loves them.
In Leviticus 19:33-34, God told his people, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Amidst all the talk of building walls to keep foreigners out, not to mention remarks like, “they need to go back where they belong,” how is it that we have lost sight of what it means to love the foreigner? How have we quickly forgotten that we ourselves, most of us anyways, are not native to this land.
I can’t do anything for Alyan, or his mom and five year old brother who also drowned, but I can give to support missionaries who are working with refugees. In fact our family supports a missionary in Turkey who is working with Iranian refugees. I can also ask God, does he want me to be a part of the “boots on the ground” solution in Turkey to help these refugees and if he says yes, then go. I can also pray for my children to be sensitive to God’s calling on them to serve and love the least and the lost across the ocean.
I can’t do anything for Alyan, or the other 11 Syrian refugees who died but I can pray for the 11 who survived, including Alyan’s dad. I can pray that they find a peaceful place to live on this earth and most importantly that they find the peace of Jesus Christ that brings eternal life.
So it turns out I can do a lot. I can pray, I can give, and I can love foreigners right here. What I can’t do, if the love of Christ is in me, is do nothing. I can’t flip past the picture and ignore the problem. I can’t go about my life and think silently, ‘I’m glad that’s not my problem’, because I have been called to love Alyan as I love Allen. I have to do something.
You too have been called to love Alyan as yourself. How will you respond?