Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 5, 2014

You Entered Our Hearts

Among Syrian Refugees in Amman, Jordan

“There Is a Balm in Gilead” is one of my favorite hymns. I especially like the refrain of this old African-American Spiritual: “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.” Gilead figures prominently in Old Testament history. Among other things, it was the place where King David fled during Absalom’s rebellion and also the birthplace of the prophet Elijah. The Bible also mentions a particular balm of Gilead, an ointment made from the resin of a tree and widely used for medicine, perfume, and body ointment.

Our team at Gilead.

Our team at Gilead.

This morning, our team ventured to the region of Gilead to symbolically break ground for a Christian conference center and to prayer walk the grounds. From our high vantage point we could see the Jordan River in the distance and look over into the ancient land of Samaria beyond the Jordan. I reminded our students that this is where the famous balm of Gilead was produced. This was the same balm that Jacob encouraged his sons to take to Egypt along with other gifts to use in their negotiations with Pharaoh’s second in command, their brother Joseph (Gen. 43:11).

As I mentioned in a previous post, I encouraged our students to take “a little balm and a little honey” (Gen. 43:11) with them as they visit Syrian refugees. Emotions among the refugees we have visited are tender and raw. Many are faltering from exhaustion and grief. Several have told us about the hardships they face as strangers in another land. “Many people spit on us and curse us and tell us to go home,” one woman told me today. Little did the people who have mistreated this poor woman realize the hell she has been through over the past couple of years.

A grieving mother holding the only photo of her deceased son.

A grieving mother holding the only photo of her deceased son.

This mother told me that she and her kids arrived in Amman only three months ago. They spent a brief time in the Zaatari refugee camp before finally finding their way to a two-hundred square foot room that they are renting at a usurious rate. She had a faraway and pained expression on her face as she told us about how her 22 year-old son was killed in Syria. Soon afterward her home was destroyed, leaving her no option but to seek refuge in Jordan. As she talked she stared at her phone. On her small phone is the only remaining photo she has of her son.

A mother's only remaining photo of her dead son.

A mother’s only remaining photo of her dead son.

My heart sank when she handed us the phone to look at the tiny digital image of her son. We offered our condolences and prayed with her. We assured her that we would continue to pray for her and her beloved country. She thanked us and told us that we had done more than enter her home. “You entered our hearts,” she said. Our presence was indeed a soothing balm to this woman.

As Christ-followers we must be prepared to offer a prayer, to shed some tears, to listen to a story, to help carry a burden, and to walk beside weary travelers — all essential ingredients in dispensing balm. The woman has been through enough heartache without having to endure the hatred of others just because she is trying to survive in a strange land. Shame on those who spit on her and cursed her. May we, as Christ-followers, never miss an opportunity to liberally dispense the balm that can make the wounded whole and heal the sin sick soul.


  1. I can’t stop the tears falling for this dear woman. Having had a son in a war-zone, I often imagined being in her grief. To then give up everything familiar and endure such heartless treatment is unimaginable to me.
    If you see her again, tell her a mother on the other side of the world is grieving with her and praying for her.

    • Thanks, Mary. I will pass along your message to this sweet woman. This will bless and encourage her.

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