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Crisis in Syria: The Choice We Have to Make



  • February 11, 2013
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Vernon Brewer

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I’m on my way home from Syria, passing over the rubble of a nation that has been crushed by violence and crippled by fear. Tens of thousands have been butchered, and millions—having lost all they have—are now losing hope.

Rubble

In just a couple of days, I will be speaking at Liberty University as they kick off their biannual Global Focus Week. I can’t think of a better challenge to give these students than to look at the world around them today: Millions of people are suffering—millions who have never heard the hope of Christ. They are everywhere . . . the Himalayan Mountains and the African bush . . . and they are in Syrian refugee camps, shivering together in the bitter cold.

The face of each refugee I met told a story of unimaginable sorrow, intense struggle,  and endless uncertainty. They flash clearly through my mind as I prepare to challenge thousands of young people to truly make a difference in our world today . . . a powerful reminder of who and what we have to fight for every single day.

Refugee children

Experience has taught me that if you really want to dedicate your life to what breaks the heart of God, you have to look for people who the world has forgotten—“the least of these,” as Jesus called them.

I can’t help but think of the refugee children I met, like 10-year-old Yousef. A bright, eager young boy, Yousef has been out of school for months. He doesn’t know if his father, who stayed behind in Syria to fight, is even alive . . . his future gravely unclear. As I watched Yousef, I could see he was desperately confused, not knowing if he would have food to eat, a secure home, or a stable family life ever again.

Yousef

I quickly noticed that there were no men around. Many were killed trying to get their families out of the country. Some stayed behind to fight or protect what they had . . . the outcome uncertain. There is no safety for the vulnerable and no provision for the hungry and frightened women and children left behind.

In the video clip below, I’m with Sabreen and Salwa, women whose husbands were slaughtered in the ongoing massacre. Right now, they are living in one cramped and dirty room with nine children. We were able to give them staple foods, blankets, hygiene items, and other critical supplies to make it through the harsh winter alone.

Watch the video on Vimeo

The men who have made it over the border have paid a high price. I met a man named Sheika who told me he was held hostage for a week by government soldiers. His face grew somber as he shared how he was tortured daily and beaten to the brink of death.

Half of Sheika’s body is now paralyzed—He can’t work and is barely able to move. His five-year-old daughter, Shahad, has endured serious emotional and psychological trauma because of the violence she’s been exposed to. As a father, I tried to put myself in Sheika’s shoes and imagine what his life must be like . . . what his future will be. There’s no way I’ll ever know . . . all I can do is pray and help in whatever ways possible.

That’s why part of our humanitarian strategy is to provide relief and mobility to survivors like Sheika with the gift of a wheelchair. It’s one of the best chances we can give for a better quality of life, a small glimpse of hope for people—even children—who have been through more pain and suffering than we could fathom.

Wheelchairs

Today, we have the opportunity to act in the face of what great evil has destroyed. Don’t miss out on the chance to get involved . . . to make an immediate difference in the lives of these Syrian refugees.

There’s still a great need for more food supplies, medicine, and sources of warmth as one of the worst winters in decades continues to put millions of lives in danger. Please join me by giving your best gift today.

Distributing blankets

Each and every day this crisis continues, we make a choice. We watch, listen, feel pity, and do nothing. Or we allow our hearts to break . . . and then move our hands and feet into action.

It’s the same decision we make every time we see suffering and hopelessness in our world.

It’s the decision we make with our resources, our time, and our money.

It’s a decision I’m going to be challenging thousands of students to make on Wednesday: Choose to be Jesus on the ground to a world that has no other hope.

The lives and futures of millions are on the line. We cannot let them down.

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 If you would like to watch my convocation address to the students of Liberty University, tune in live on Wednesday, February 13 at 10:00 a.m. using this link.

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