It’s hard to know how to carry on with my day, how to keep on with the lunch making, light saber duel refereeing, loads of laundry changing…
It’s hard to know how to even breathe when precious daughters are being stripped and sold, families forced to flee up mountains in the middle of the night, when mothers are abandoned in shipping containers, sons shot, babies dying for lack of food and water.
It’s hard to know how to move from this spot in front of my laptop after reading this post about the very real atrocities ISIS is waging and the atrocious conditions the mamas who barely escaped are living in —mamas like me, like you, like my neighbor, like your best friend (yeah, people, women, SISTERS, just living somewhere else).
My biggest worry today is whether we should sink another four grand into our old minivan to fix the shot transmission or invest in a newer model. It feels like a major decision for our family.
But is it a matter of survival? An issue of innocence or freedom? Am I being hounded and hunted by in-the-flesh evil? Am I being forced to choose which of my children to save?
I can’t stop asking these questions, can’t stop seeing their haunted eyes—mothers like me and children like mine, just “unlucky” to be born on the other side of the world.
It feels cruel. It is cruel.
It’s not the story Ann Voskamp wanted to tell. It’s certainly not the story thousands of Iraqi families want to live. But it’s happening.
It is real.
And I’m reeling.
…the breath sucked right out of my chest.
Maybe that’s the one right response. To feel so moved that you can barely move. But when you do, to move toward an answer. To reach out in love.
To resolve not to stay paralyzed by the weight of the problem but to let that weight catapult your arms, your heart, to offer up whatever you have.
To say to the nine year old girls ripped open in rape, to the widowed mothers and orphaned brothers and babies with pneumonia, I see you.
I see you. And I won’t look away. You are valuable. You are precious. Your pain is worth my discomfort in looking, reading, giving.
My money. My voice. Shares. Likes. Words. Service. Whatever I have I will offer it up in the name of Love and Hope, which is never trite, but always right.
But what does that mean when I am here in my three bedroom house on a safe and quiet suburban cul-de-sac where we complain about the taxes and gas prices and lack of better restaurants? How do I wrap my mind around the pain and brokenness forged by ISIS and their savage executions and little girl slave auctions in the midst of my tiny, privileged American life?
Do I leave my four guys and our weekend lizard catching and little boy disciplining and little blog writing to go to Iraq and sit on the floor of shipping containers and listen and cry with the broken hearts, broken lives like Ann did?
Maybe. Maybe that’s what God will ask me to do.
But for many of us He won’t.
For many of us He will ask us to keep on keeping on right where we are. But that doesn’t mean we are off the hook. That doesn’t mean we can just go back to our favorite episodes on Netflix, Costco shopping trips, and broken transmissions and not have to give an account for how we did or did not pay into the continuing debt to love.
If you follow Jesus, you are called to love.
There are a million ways to do so.
I love by answering my four year old’s endless litany of questions. I love by bringing dinner to a family with a new foster baby. I love by cleaning up my husband’s banana peels and praying for a friend and smiling at the school crossing guard.
Yes, love the people right where you’re at!
But what about the people with no one to love them where they are? What about the mamas and daughters and babies left helpless and alone in ISIS’ wretched wake?
I don’t know the faces I see in Ann’s post or on TV. But they are more than faces.
They are sisters.
Today I am also choosing to love them.
You can, too.
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How to Respond
Christians are deeply moved and saddened by stories like the ones that Ann tells. We naturally ask: “But what can we do?”
We are called to action. We are not powerless. Here are tangible ways you can help.
1 – Harness social media.
If you have a Facebook account, you have more power than you know to effect change. Share Ann’s post on Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to share this post and our ideas on how to respond. Or, write your own response on your blog or Facebook. Carry these atrocities out into the light. Don’t underestimate your ability.
2 – Give to the Preemptive Love Coalition.
This nonprofit is on the ground, in the trenches, with the very people being tormented by ISIS. Donate by clicking here. $25 can provide emergency relief. $100 can put 10 displaced kids back to school. $1,000 can empower a woman to start her new business.
3 – Donate through Samaritan’s Purse.
The organization is helping victims of ISIS by providing clothing and shelter, implementing water programs, and ministering to persecuted Christians. Donate by clicking here.
4 – Tell your church.
Ask your church mission board if they’d be willing to donate. Ask your denomination what they are doing to support relief efforts of those being persecuted by ISIS.
5 – Call or write your Senators and Representatives.
Let them know this issue is important to you. And let them know you’re praying for them as they make decisions that affect real souls.
6 – Pray.
We feel so powerless, and sometimes we say, “I don’t know else what I can do but pray.” Don’t underestimate the power of your prayers. You are unleashing the power of God.
7 – Pay attention.
Keep informed. When we are informed, we are better equipped to act. When we turn away from the hard stories, we die of ignorance.