Refugees and bent knees

Written by Alexis Hartline
April 13, 2017

Recently, I have seen picture after picture on my social media feed in regards to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Videos of children struggling and gasping for air, photos of women weeping over their lost sons, husbands, and brothers. And I ask myself, “What can I do about this?” I watch helplessly, spellbound by the atrocious images displayed on my computer screen. When innocent people are dying, how do we as Christians reach out to a fallen, broken world?

Some people group refugees into one stereotypical mass. They see them as different, as “others.” Our western culture has taught us to fear them and judge them, and in many cases, pity them. Our politicians tell us they are the culprits behind mass shootings and terrorist attacks. We want to protect our own, so we join the mob mentality of blocking them out in order to protect ourselves and our ways of life.

Last week, I went to Whitwell Middle School, located about an hour away from our campus. The small school is built in one of the poorest counties in Tennessee. Many of the children go hungry, and their families struggle to get by. Whitwell is barely 100 miles away from the town where the KKK originated, yet there is something so special about this school. A little over ten years ago, the teachers decided they wanted to start an after school program with the kids that helped them learn about others and enabled them to help the world around them. So they began studying the Holocaust. They began collecting paper clips to represent every life lost during the war. Now, years later, they have received letters, paper clips, and gifts from all over the world.

These students have learned the importance of equality and loving their fellow man. And they continue to share their knowledge and teach others about human rights. Documentaries and movies have been made about this school. Holocaust survivors have travelled far and wide to come speak and share their stories to the school children in Whitwell. Lives have been changed. All because a tiny rural school decided to lay down their prejudice and fight for the justice of others.

So when it comes to this refugee crisis, I see resemblance between our current situation and the Jewish situation. Like our present day refugees, the Jews tried to flee and immigrate to England, America, and Pakistan, but those countries rejected the majority of them for fear of risking their own cultural safety and comfort. Now we reflect back with sadness and remorse, because innocent lives were lost, and so many chose to protect their interests instead of protecting their fellow man.

As Christians today, we see the world around us and ask why these things happen, or question what difference we could make. But everyone of us has been created for a purpose. Why doesn’t God do something? Because He created us. We can be the answer to so many individuals. Will you be the answer to someone’s prayer today?