Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 7, 2016

Seeing the World Anew

Something happens when we move in the direction of people in need — our perspective changes. There is an insight that comes only from being onsite. It’s one thing to read or listen to news accounts of the refugee crisis in the Middle East but quite another to be in the same room as the people impacted by those realities. Looking into the eyes of refugees and listening to their personal stories sans any media filter does indeed deepen understanding.

Amman View
This week our student team is getting the education of a lifetime as we serve Syrian and Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan for safety. Regardless of whether the people we serve are Muslim or Christian background, they both feel pain and bleed the same way. As Christ-followers, we are here to serve those in need without condition and without expecting anything in return. To turn a Mother Teresa quote, we are here looking for Jesus in the distressing disguise of refugees.

Aid to Refugees
Our team is engaged on several fronts. First, we are delivering humanitarian aid to refugees who have recently arrived in Amman. This is, perhaps, the most emotionally intense component of our work here. Every family we visit has suffered unimaginable loss — of both loved ones, friends, and personal property. They are in the unenviable position of having to make a new start, some with nothing more than the meager stipend they receive from the United Nations.

Coffee with Refugees
It is important to us to not be in a hurry as we visit these families. We take the time to drink a cup of tea or strong coffee with them, to listen to their stories, and to weep and pray with them. One father summed it up best when we gave his family much needed groceries. “The real treasure,” he said, “is you and that you have come so far to care for us.” Our being onsite has given these families special insight into the unconditional love and care of Christ-followers.

Iraqi Refugee Kids
A part of our team is spending time with the children of Christian-background Iraqi Christians. Like their parents, these kids left their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs. Some have missed a year or more of their education because the schools in Jordan simply cannot absorb the hundreds of thousands of refugee kids in the country. Our time with these kids has resulted in lots of smiles and laughter and something that looks more like a normal childhood. It’s a little thing but it matters much to these families.

House of Ruth Rock Wall
Some of our students are also doing some practical labor at a vocational training center for refugees called the House of Ruth. Located in Moab, the homeland of the biblical character named Ruth, this center is restoring hope into the lives of many refugee women and children. The students that served there today added a section to a rock wall. This was, of course, the first time for any of our suburban students to do anything like this. Pardon the pun but they truly rocked!

Students in Amman
Our evening worship and debriefing time was pretty cool. Several of our students shared new insights they have gained into an issue that is on the front pages of the news every week. More importantly, they are gleaning a better understanding of the fact that these refugees are people just like them. They are afraid of ISIS. They don’t want to lose their lives in a civil conflict gone mad. They are tired of the violence, whether it is Muslim on Muslim violence or ISIS threatening Christians to permanently leave their ancestral homes in northern Iraq.

Serving at House of Ruth
The efforts of our students may amount to nothing more than adding a drop of water to a vast ocean. But, as Mother Teresa once said, the ocean would be less without that drop of water. Our students are making meaningful connections with people they never thought they would meet in a place they never imagined they would visit. As a result, they will never see the world and the people in it the same way again.

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