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Thousands of Tiny Faces
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My 48th birthday was unlike any other in my life. By 9 a.m., I was in Turkey sitting beside seven Columbian women who had also felt called by God to help His refugee children in the region. We met in a small apartment with about 16 people sitting on the floor. Everyone sat on the floor except for two teachers, my friend Michael and me. Turkey still has a strong shame/honor culture. I was seated in the plastic lawn chair seat of honor because I am a pastor and guest of the teachers.

 

The teachers were Americans who have lived in Turkey for 11 years as church-planters, equippers and trainers. These teachers also have four children (17, 15, 11 and 9) whom they are nurturing while leading in so many ways. Their work over the last decade has been impressive with language barriers, cultural challenges and working in a religious context, which looks nothing like where they were formed in faith.

 

But what is now opening corridors for new help, new openness to Christianity, is the unprecedented movement and need of the young people of Syria into their area of influence. They tell me, "The refugee situation has taken on a life of its own. One camp where we are working grew from 500-1500 in the last two weeks."

 

Sitting on the floor next to the teachers was a 20-something young woman (American born) working in Taiwan who had also come to learn how to help. She has been working in Taiwan for eight years but had her heart moved by the desperation of the crisis in and around Syria.

 

Just north of the city of Kusidasi became the city of tents and tarps, a refuge from a life and death march through razor wire, bombs and assassination attempts. I can't say the young families I saw there were happy to be there. But they were happy to be alive. They even smiled when they talked of their dreams of going home back into Syria.

 

Oddly to me, while I saw nearly a thousand Muslim Syrian refugees in eight days, none of them ever referred to the United States as a place they wanted to go. However, when I returned to my hotel room with WIFI access, my feed was full of posts making sure the world knew that "we" were not open to them living among us. Most of the posts, if not all, were written by people who have never seen the reality of the situation or the real faces of the children and young moms and dads trying to save the lives of their children.

 

Once home, I had so many wonderful friends let me know they had been praying for my safety. I am and was truly grateful. (We landed "instruments only" in Frankfurt due to fog, which was the scariest part of the trip for me.)

 

My friend Michael and his family are back in Turkey, helping with the work of meeting basic needs for refugees each Friday. Pray for them as it is now winter there, and thousands are living by the heat of wood-burning stoves provided by the generosity of our Christmas and Easter offerings at church.

 

Thousands of tiny faces remain in my mind. So does this scripture written by Jesus’ own brother, "If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongue but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained be the world." James 1:26-27

 

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Mark


WORSHIP TIMES
Friday Evening
 6:30 p.m. - One Church Worship

Sunday Morning
 9:15 a.m. - Worship at Acts 2
10:45 a.m. - Worship at Acts 2

CONTACT INFO
4848 W. Covell
Edmond, OK 73012
Click here for directions
Phone: 405-359-2287

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