I scanned a bunch of old pictures the other night and came across this one from 1994. I was pregnant with our first child, and my parents had come to visit us. We were living in Syria.
We took my parents all over the country and visited places that are now in ruins after seven years of brutal war. So, I look at this picture and think about where I was in my life: expecting a baby, living in a country that was so open to Christ and yet so closed, reveling in the history of Paul’s Damascus, while burdened over the state of the church. I was sitting on stones that surrounded an ancient Crusader castle, Craque des Chevaliers, reflecting on its history and damage done in the name of Christ, as the Crusades are never forgotten when sharing with Muslims.
Now, not only is the fortress in ruins (https://youtu.be/wE7aGVSpjfo), but much of the country itself. What has this done for the people of Syria? The old enmity of Muslim versus Christian has little meaning now. New hurts, new wounds are what people will remember and question when asked to turn to God. Where is God in all this?
Perhaps he’s allowing ruins to become just that — ruins, not walls. No longer can Muslim reject Christ on the basis of what so-called Christians did in centuries past; they must face the reality of what Muslim is doing against Muslim today. Where is the help coming from in relief efforts, food and care? From the Christians whom they’ve hated and rejected. This must mean something. The message of Christ must be true.
Yet it is not only Muslims who must face the destruction of their ancient animosities, but Christians as well. Christians, who held onto buildings and traditions, not beliefs. Christians, who found their identity in a certain dogma or denomination, not in Christ. Churches have been destroyed, priests killed, leaving them with one question to be answered: “Do I have faith in Jesus to save me from this hell on earth?” When all else is destroyed, will they hold on to him alone?
Tears flow as I think of the hurting of all those affected by the violence and destruction, and yet, just this week I know of two dear sisters, one going to Turkey, one to Greece, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to Syrian refugees. This is where I see God at work to rebuild and bring hope.
I look at this picture and ask myself, “Are you willing to step off that edge for a people you love, a people I love?” I think about what it might cost me. I think about what it means. Not sure where this is taking me, but I’m willing to give it to the One who knows.
What about you? Are you sitting on the edge and pondering where you’ve been? Do you know where you’re going? Is God tearing down walls in your life that were ruins to begin with? There’s so much work to be done for the Kingdom. God is on the move. Will you join him?
Grace and Peace