Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 22, 2013

Profiles in Pain

Amman, Jordan

God has a way of helping us keep our petty problems in proper perspective. After landing in Amman and finally making it to the luggage carousel, as usual, I was confident my luggage would be among the first on the carousel. One of the little perks of being a Gold member of Emirates Airlines Skyward program is that my luggage gets a Priority handling tag to ensure it makes it on and off the plane without incident. However, this morning I waited and waited for so long that I almost became hypnotized by watching the luggage carousel go round and round. My luggage was nowhere to be found.

I spoke with an airline representative who informed me that my bags were still in Houston! The young lady assured me that my bags will arrive tomorrow and will be delivered to my hotel. “Oh my soul,” I thought to myself. “We begin our work with Syrian refugees this afternoon and then I am speaking to 200+ Iraqi refugees in the evening. And all I have to wear is what I have traveled in for two days. I sure hope the folks I meet today will receive my smell.” And then, I was reminded that we will be visiting families that fled the conflict in Syria with only the clothes they were wearing. I have nothing to complain about.

The only way I can describe what it was like to meet with Syrian refugees is that it was beyond heartbreaking. Every story we heard was a profile in pain. I found it ironic that the first family we visited was from the Syrian town of Deraa, the place where this whole mess started almost two years ago. We sat on the floor and listened to the anguished story of a mother of seven whose twenty-four and twenty-six year old sons had been killed by government forces. She had an actual photograph of one of her sons and only a cell phone photo of the other. Her husband remained in Syria to fight with the resistance forces.

A Dead Syrian Son
Once a family of means, this woman and her surviving children now live in poverty. One daughter is an unemployed civil engineer and the other had just been accepted into medical school when all hell broke loose in Syria. We took a week’s worth of groceries to the family and also blankets. With barely enough to eat, this mother told us that if we knew of another family with greater needs we should take the food to them. “After months of waiting for things to get better,” she said, “just your visit is a great encouragement to us.” And then, she wept.

Every family we visited shared similar painful stories of loss. Many cried tears of relief not only because we had brought them food and blankets, but because we listened and shared the hope of Christ with them, and because we prayed with them. Dealing with delayed luggage is nothing compared to coping with the death of family members, the destruction of personal property, and the daily frustration of not knowing the welfare of family members and friends still trapped inside Syria’s bloody borders. Everyone we met today longs for the fighting and killing to stop. They just want to go home to rebuild their lives and live in peace. We should all pray for that day to come soon so that no more profiles in pain will be shared.


  1. To be reminded of how blessed we truly are and to be given a better perspective on life is always a genuine gift and blessing … thank you my friend. Blessings and safe travels.

  2. Omar,
    It always saddens me to know, in this world there are a handful of people so overcome with greed for power and money, that they damage and even destroy the lives of the remaining millions of us that just want to raise families and live life to the best of our ability. This blog is a great reminder for us to pray for those in countries that we often associate only with terrorists or people whose beliefs are conflicting to ours. The stories of the suffering are not covered by the media but merely tucked away and anonymous. You remind us to look beyond the handful and remember the millions.

    • Thanks, Mary. Visiting with refugee families today was more than sobering. The despair in their homes was as thick as fog. They were so kind and gracious and filled with gratitude that we took the time to visit them. We will continue our visits tomorrow. Thanks for praying for these folks.

  3. Praying for the work you all are doing in Jordan. Godspeed.

    • Thanks so much. Your prayers are welcome and appreciated.

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