I work as an intern at an office where my heart breaks once a week or so. We support native missionaries working in lands of persecution and poverty. I do some social media, so I end up reading a lot of world news.
Last week, I transcribed an interview where a man described refugee camps where families have been living in the same tents for four years. There’s no clean water. They have asthma; they have skin diseases, and hardly anyone helps. Resources are wearing thin in the Middle East, and it’s been going on so long most of the world is tired of hearing about it.
We’ve moved on to the next most interesting thing. Refugees can’t do that.
Last Thursday I read an article about bio-waste dumped near a Rohingya refugee camp in New Delhi. Elsewhere, the Rohingya have been dubbed the “most hated people in the world.” Some fled from Myanmar in boats, hoping to find new lives in neighboring countries, while others were forbidden to leave the displacement camps the government placed them in.
Now these Rohingya refugees in India are having discarded syringes, saline tubes, blood packets, and bandages dumped at the only place they can call home. Children wanting for toys are picking up these items and developing deadly infections.
When faced with headlines like these, I often hear Americans talk about how lucky we are, how blessed. I don’t like hearing it. Certainly, we are blessed, but it seems too light a thing to say, a statement that raises too many questions.
Are the Rohingya not blessed? Are Syrian refugees not blessed? If not, why? Why do I get to wander through safe grocery store aisles wondering what to eat when others are wondering when their next meal might come?
And when it comes to persecution–we learned last week that one Chibok school girl kidnapped by Boko Haram chose death over denying Christ. Her parents are grateful that she did not change her religion.
“To die for Christ, that is the happiest thing for me,” her father said.
Other Chibok girls are reportedly brainwashed and have been seen cutting the throats of Christian men, weapons in the hands of their captors.
I can’t call the brainwashed girls slitting throats less brave than the one who chose death. There seem to be no clean lines to draw anymore. While my heart breaks for the victims of terrorism, I can’t imagine being one behind it, always awake to that nightmare of blood on my hands. How sick must the hearts be of Boko Haram and ISIS, of men buying girls in bazaars, of a man burning a girl with boiling water for not reciting the Quran while he abused her? How sick and how numb, how chained and in need of a savior.
I pray for the Middle East now. Not as often as I could and mostly it’s little more than, God, please, do something.
It’s not enough. It’s never enough, and sometimes it seems outrageously unfair to be a young woman in the west, so extraordinarily wealthy but able to do so little.
What I can do mostly is not turn away. What I can do is keep reading these stories and let them break me apart, not turn away and forget great sorrow in favor of easy entertainment.
At the very least, I can weep with those who weep.
Please, weep with me. Watch with me. Pray with me. Please don’t turn away.
(The organization I work for is Christian Aid Mission. To learn more about giving to the ministries we support working in the Middle East, visit defeatdarkness.org or our main website www.christianaid.org)