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Monday, November 16, 2015

A Bullet With Your Name On It

Well, I just hope. . .that one of those refugees coming soon to a town near you doesn't have a bullet with your name or a family members name on it. he said.

I stared at the screen in shock. I'd been scrolling through a student's Facebook posts on my work Facebook page when I ran across a photo of a oversized horse sculpture with the words Syrian Refugees on the body and the words ISIS on its head. I read the caption, the post was not originating with the student but they had re-posted it. It read In light of the fact that at least three of the terrorists in France have been identified as Syrian, we must ask if the Syrian refugees are fleeing from terror or if some of them are bringing the terror.

As I read the comments, someone mentioned a Trojan Horse, which referred to the sculpture. Not being familiar with the metaphor, I looked it up, and understood that the post was referring to their perceived idea that the Syrians were using the refugee situation as a cover to infiltrate and destroy countries. Being raised in the Middle East, my instant reaction was one of indignation and anger. I found myself trembling as I typed out an answer that I hoped would help the student to understand that a blanket statement such as that was outrageous and unacceptable. The student didn't reply but one of their friends began to challenge me.

In my first answer, I said I felt it was a sad conclusion to make, that each country including the US has citizens that make poor choices. In the US, there are regular school shootings but that doesn't make every American a potential shooter. I recommended they thoughtfully search to understand more about the Syrian refugees and would find most of them are innocent families fleeing a horrendous war that has overtaken their country. I shared an article that talked about their humanity.

The person's reply was combative, basing it on their experience in the Middle East, and questioning my assumptions. I assured them that I too had lived in the Middle East and I apologized for their poor experience. Then he replied with the statement I began the post with. The shaking increased. Who was this person, with such hatred in their hearts, that they painted an entire region black due to prejudices?

I love that America fights wars for justice. I love that America is concerned about the women and children and goes in to rescue those trapped between countries in war, whether or not they are their own. I don't love this mindset, though, that America is superior to other countries.

As I pondered the person's replies, a thought came to mind. This must be how God feels when His character is misrepresented. When Satan influences events and horrible things happen, we tend to instinctively blame God because He didn't protect us or we believe He allowed the things to happen. The Syrian refugees should not be blamed for the Paris attacks. Those attacks were carried out under the influence of Satan. The Syrian refugees are fleeing similar horrors in their home countries. I imagine God's heart must break as He longs to comfort the children, the women, the men, who are frightened and scared and will risk death for freedom and safety.

Another thought was close behind. I am ready to take the bullet. I don't want to die. I want to live and be happy and help others as much as I can. I don't believe every refugee family is a potential terrorist. I hope that regardless of the situation, I can take ahold of God's strength and say Let them come, let us show them God, and if after they have seen His love they choose to harm us, then we die serving Him.

Jesus made this decision over 2,000 years ago. He stood there, silent, in the garden as His closest friend and the angry rabble came, accusing Him, betraying Him, despising the gift of salvation He offered them. He stood there, silent, as they shoved the sharp thorns on His head, crudely twisted into a crown, as they mocked Him. He lay there, silent, as they pounded long steel nails into His gentle hands, then thrust the cross heavily into the ground. He hung there, silent, as they gathered below and jeered at Him, laughing at His ripped and torn body, sneering in their self-righteous selves.

The words He spoke were simple. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. He knew but they didn't, the significance of what was happening. He knew they were choosing to reject Him and even in His agony, He still pitied them. This was love at its heart. Love that gave all in return for nothing.

I am getting ready to return to the Middle East next year. I am well aware that a bullet can end my life even though where I will be is removed from immediate danger. Nothing is guaranteed except for this. This is life eternal, that they may know Thee and Jesus Christ Whom Thou has sent. John 17:3 This is what I need to share.

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