Last night I had the pleasure of having dinner with two new families from Iraq. They are Yazidi people who survived the genocide and lived in a refugee camp after suffering tremendous loss in their lives. For the purpose of this writing, I will refer to the group that perpetrated the genocide as the criminals not with the name they claim because criminals is a much better fit.
When the criminals came and perpetrated genocide against them, it included loss of their homes, loss of their livelihoods, and worst of all loss of loved ones and friends who were taken away and killed. The grief is unimaginable for us to comprehend. It is difficult for us Americans to wrap our brains around, to grasp, being targeted for genocide simply because of having a different religion.
Last night after we ate, they showed me pictures of their homes in Iraq and of friends and family. As we looked at the pictures, they would pause at some of the pictures and share with me that the criminals took them. I understood right away what they meant. Their friend or loved one was taken away and killed. If the loved one was a woman or girl, it means facing the horrors of forced marriage and sexual abuse. Such grief and loss can be crippling emotionally and psychologically.
I shared with them a simple message I have shared many times over the years with refugees from many other countries. The message I shared was- Building Your New Life Here Will Honor Them. What I mean by that message is that my friends are safe here and they can build a new life. Their children can go to school here where their religion is not a factor. They and their children can have new lives and a future. By doing so, they can honor their lost loved ones and friends.
My desire is to show my friends the love of Jesus. Three simple words Jesus taught have profound meaning to me. Jesus said, “God is love.” Paul wrote in the in the bible in 1st Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remains, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.” Being friends with my dear refugee friends has meant a lot to me over the years. My desire is to show them the love Jesus spoke of.
Showing such love many times starts with actually listening. Taking time to listen as they share their life stories. I do not have a magic wand that can erase the horrors they faced or the loss the have suffered. I wish I did. However, I can listen and be their friend. I can help them with understanding some of their new lives here in America. By helping them in small ways to build their new lives here, I help them to honor those they lost. We who are Christians are called upon by God to bear the burdens of others. I try to bear the burdens of my refugee friends.