Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 12, 2016

The Signature of Suffering

Statistics can easily anesthetize us to the painful realities experienced by the individual people who make up those statistics. It’s one thing to hear that about the millions of refugees in search of a safer place to live, but it’s another thing to look one of those refugees in the eyes and listen to a personal story of loss and suffering.

While statistics touch our heads, individual stories touch our hearts. Charts and graphs can give us insight into the magnitude of a problem, but a personal story can compel us to become a part of the solution to that problem. Nothing can touch our hearts more than a story shared in the muted and halting cadence of emotion.

Every refugee family we visit in Jordan has a story of personal suffering. I can see in the faces of our students that they are thinking deeply about what they are hearing and seeing. In our evening debriefing time, several sit with tears in their eyes. It’s hard not to weep.

Today I met a 29-year-old Muslim-background refugee named Hassan, a young man with once-handsome features. His hands and arms bore the distinctive signature of suffering. He invited us into his home where we sat on a single tattered sofa and on the floor. Hassan then took his place on the floor and began to speak.


His story dates back to the month of March in 2011 when the civil conflict in Syria was ignited in Deraa. He was an officer in President Assad’s army. In the days following the initial spark, his heart turned toward the Arab Spring movement. Eventually he switched loyalties and began to fight with the opposition.


One day he was caught on video raising the opposition banner. He was soon arrested and imprisoned. His former friends then tortured him mercilessly. The worst of it all was what they did to his hands. Instead of killing him, they decided that his hands would never again raise a flag of opposition.


And so began a torture designed to maim his hands. They attached electrical cords to his arms and sent waves of electricity through them. And then, they took pliers and crushed his wrist bones. They repeated their torture until his hands no longer functioned. Hassan remained in prison until he was finally freed in a prisoner exchange agreement.

Disillusioned, he did not know what to do. And then he had the first of four dreams — dreams in which a man in white appeared to him. In those dreams, this man repeatedly told him that He loved him and that He was the way, truth, and life. As a result, Hassan, wanted to know more.


In time, he crossed paths with one of our partners in Jordan. They sat and talked for hours. Hassan finally understood that Jesus was that man in his dreams. Without being prompted, he told me that he bowed his head and prayed, “Jesus, I want you to be my Savior.” And then, everything changed. He talked about an unexplainable peace.

Today, Hassan’s body still bears the brutal signature of torture and suffering. But, he has the assurance that one day his broken body will be made whole by the One whose own body also bears the signature of suffering. He is passionately devoted to Jesus and now bears a smile and a faith that can never be broken.


  1. Omar
    I will be praying for Hassan to have a powerful impact for Christ as he walks his faith. Also, will pray for healing to his hands

    • Thanks, Mechele. God has sure made a difference in his life. Remarkably sweet spirit.

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