We have been home for a few weeks from working with refugees in Germany. And I am longing to be right back there with the people who were strangers to me just a few short weeks ago. With the volunteers who tirelessly translated for us and showed us what it means to lay down your life for your friends. With the refugee families who opened their homes and served us their best with such genuine hospitality and openness that it made my own hospitality small in comparison. With the laughing, bouncing kids who rattled off German so fast it seemed like their first language. And with the young men who sweetly called me “mama” because they were missing their own dear mothers.
Through pieced together conversations, gestures and facial expressions, I listened to their stories. They told me how they lost entire families. Others had to leave precious family behind. I heard stories of battles fought by children. And kidnapping. And murder. They told me, little by little, how they had escaped by walking and hiding, driving and boating their way to freedom with only the clothes on their backs.
They were hard and heavy conversations to hold.
As I listened, this thought kept pressing on my heart: they are families just like my family, boys just like my boy. This could be my family, homeless and fleeing for our lives. These could be my children, orphaned and alone in a strange land.
I laid awake at night thinking of the dreams I have for my children's future, the countless prayers for their safety and protection and for them to have deep, abiding faith.
Aren't mama's the same everywhere, caring for our children, training them up in the way they should go, praying for their souls, dreaming big dreams for their lives? Surely their mamas prayed over them like I pray for my own children. Who is going to pray for these children, these boys now?
I thank God every day for the volunteers who are helping and teaching and loving the refugees. I am blown away by their Jesus-Love. They have wide open hearts for the refugees and they love them like family.
I want to be there, too, helping and teaching and loving. And I want to be here, with the people I know and love. The pull on my heart actually, physically hurts sometimes. I feel like I have family on two continents, and there is 4700 long miles between us.
I'm not sure what God wants me to do with this giant-sized ache in my heart. I can say it has changed how I see refugees, and I don't just mean those fleeing Syria and Iraq. Everyone is looking for refuge, everyone has a story. Even in my own smallish circle, there are hurting and broken people wanting to know they are not alone. Isn't that what we all long for?
Sweet Jesus, make me a place of refuge, of listening, and of grace. Amen.