Syrian refugees at Budapest Keleti railway station, 4 September 2015. Wikipedia photo by Rebecca Harms from Wendland, Germany

You can help give hope to Syrian refugees here in Spokane

Guest column by Mark Kadel

My heart hurts as we watch thousands of Syrian refugees run for their lives.

Yes, our World Relief teams knew this was coming. Yes, our World Relief teams hear and see and experience these stories every single day. And yet, it is still so hard to imagine that people from the Middle East and Northern Africa are so desperate they feel safer racing into the open sea on tiny boats instead of staying in a refugee camp.

As our teams on the ground report to our home office and as we watch the scenes from recent news reports, I sometimes feel inadequate to move the titanic forces of governments and ideologies that lie at the root of this crisis. I desperately want to help. The situation seems overwhelming. Maybe you feel the same way.

Then I think of Moses.

After the Israelite people spent hundreds of years in Egypt, Pharaoh enslaved them. He was oppressing, abusing and killing them. God called on one man. Moses. I can understand why Moses protested this enormous task. Then God asked him a simple question, “Moses, what is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2). It was the simple staff of a shepherd.

What God did next was amazing. God took what Moses had in his hand and used it powerfully to get the attention of the greatest ruler and empire of that day. With that simple staff and God’s power, Moses defeated the magicians of Egypt, parted the Red Sea for the Israelites and brought the same mighty waters crashing back down on the pursuing armies and chariots of Egypt.

That remarkable story bolsters my faith that refugees can also find hope in the midst of the current crisis. God can take what we have in our hands and change lives. We can touch the life of a child living in a refugee camp as my colleagues work with churches and train people to help create safe places for refugee children and ease their trauma. (Learn more at worldrelief.org/disaster-response/syria)  We can recognize that not all refugees are in Turkey, or Greece or Hungary. Thousands have already arrived; there are refugees right here in Spokane, your neighbors. While they may have reached a place of initial safety once they passed through U.S. immigration, the road before them to realize their potential as contributing, integrated members of our community remains a challenge that we can help alleviate. We applaud the reception of refugees in the countries of Europe. You can also provide a warm reception for refugees in our own neighborhoods.

What is in your hand?

Do you have extra dollars to tithe? You can financially support a refugee family with just $36 a month.

Do you have furniture? Donate it to through World Relief Spokane to help make a home for a refugee.

Do you have two or three hours a week?  Change the course of an immigrant’s path, as a life skills tutor.

Do you have a minute in the morning? Pray fervently for peace.

Learn how to use what is in your hand.

Mark Kadel is the director or World Relief Spokane.

Join SpokaneFAVS for a Coffee Talk forum on “The Refugee Crisis” at 10 a.m. Oct. 3 at Indaba Coffee, 1425 W Broadway. Kadel is a guest panelist.

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