The last time I wrote to you we were all still reeling. We were just learning your name and your story and how we could have saved you and we were all shocked numb.
And I told you that all I could pray is that you did not die in vain. "That your death would, if not convict us, then embarrass us to action."
If I'm honest with you, Aylan? I wasn't feeling very hopeful when I signed off on that letter. I was angry.
I was angry that we would forget you.
But you know what? We haven't yet.
There are people all over the world telling the story of your people, hearing the story of your people, and most importantly, welcoming the stories of your people into their own stories by opening their borders, their homes, their lives.
It became real this week, Aylan. Mennonite Central Committee matched our church family with the first of two refugee families that we will be welcoming into Canada and into our lives in a few short months.
Because there are fears and doubts and worries and just the straight-up inability to speak Arabic, you know?
And wow, there's those nasty things people say on the internet about you and your people, little Aylan. How come we blame you for wanting a share of the security, the laughter, and simply the breath in our lungs that we take for granted every single day?
And then there's this huge task ahead of us of finding an apartment and doctors and people to show our new friends how to ride a Canadian bus and shop at a Canadian grocery store. And then there's preparing for the stories and the trauma that this family might carry on their shoulders after their long, long journey out of a war zone and into our lives.
But here's the best part: we serve a Jesus who has filled our community with hearts to serve and gifts to share - doctors and teachers and expert-apartment hunters and people who know Arabic-speakers. And the most awesome people who are willing to spend their days finding and sorting furniture and household items to fill our families' not-yet-found apartments and others who are willing to clear their garages for a free place to hold it all in the meantime.
This is community.
This is how we come together as the Body of Christ to respond to the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
We're smack in the middle of history and when it's all said and done we want to be remembered as the generation who welcomed the strangers as if they were Christ himself, running into Egypt, fleeing Herod's slaughter as a refugee.
I remember reading an article back in Grade 10 while writing a history essay. It told the story of a boat filled to the brim with Jewish refugees and bobbing on the shores of Canada.
And I remember being so angry, Aylan, because do you know what happened next? We turned them away. We listened to our fear of the other and we told them straight-up to turn around and they sailed straight back to their deaths in those horrific concentration camps.
I remember thinking it - if I had the chance I would have let them in.
And here's that chance. Our chance to respond with love and open arms, so that a student much like me, writing her own history essay many, many years from now, will be able to say -
I was a stranger and you welcomed Me.
As we prepare to welcome two refugee families, our church community would so deeply value and appreciate first and foremost, your prayers, because yeah, for something like this? You can never have enough prayer. Secondly, we would be so thankful for your financial support and (for those in the Toronto, ON area) your tangible contributions. Learn more at www.tinyurl.com/SyriaResponse. All donations made between now and Thanksgiving Monday will be matched by a generous donor. Thank you.
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