In the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, there is a tent settlement. Zoom in and you will see a tent constructed of two by fours, leaking hand-stitched plastic sacks, and cardboard. This is all that shelters a mother and her six children. They gather around a small wood burning stove in the center of the tent. They are being interviewed and filmed by World Vision. The youngest child, a four-year-old girl, sheepishly hides from the camera. The eldest child, a twelve-year-old boy named Adel, says that his siblings would just like one toy. When the four-year-old is asked what toy she wants, her face lights up and she says, “an airplane.” The mother tells the interviewer that her husband was killed by a barrel bomb with many others at a vegetable market. She and her children, fearing for their safety, fled from Syria with nothing but the clothes on their back and a mattress to sleep on. They spent all their money traveling to Lebanon. Adel tells of how he used to go to school, before it was barrel bombed. He’s the man of the house now. He worries about his five younger sisters. He works from 7am till dusk, chopping wood. When asked what he wants, he looks at his siblings and says that he only wants their safety. “What do you want?” the youngest is asked. “I want an airplane,” she replies. “What would you do with this airplane?” Her reply is “…fly to Syria.”
According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are over 65 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Most are running for their lives. The highest concentration come from Syria; 13 million – half the prewar population of the country – are running for their lives.
Before the Israelites entered the promised land, the Lord commanded them, “When an foreigner resides among you in your land, do not oppress him. The foreigner will be to you like a citizen. You shall love the foreigner as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:34-35). Jesus tells us that when we feed, clothe, and give a drink to the least among us, we do these things unto Christ (Matthew 25:31-46). How will we respond to the worst humanitarian crisis of our time?
As we enjoy this festive time of giving, let us not forget the least among us. Consider giving a gift to those in need. Find out who you can help at the Alternative Christmas Giving Fair at First Presbyterian Church Wellsboro (130 Main St; Wellsboro, Pa) this Saturday. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
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