“The end is not happy”.
These words gripped me as I made my way through a refugee camp in Kurdistan in Northern Iraq – home to 27,000 Yazidi refugees. They were written in big letters on the side of one of the tents. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw, heard and smelled in that camp. No amount of television viewing, no amount of reading – nothing!
What sense from the camp did I get as I walked around? It wasn’t fear; that had been driven out when ISIS (called DAESH by those in the camp) was driven out of Sinjar, the main territory of the Yazidi. Nor was it anger; although that would have been understandable
It was despair, a deep sense of hopelessness which had grown into a resignation. The end is not happy! This is it! This is my life! The feeling is pervasive and hung over the camp like a dark cloud. The only ones who did not seem to be affected were the children but then they always do seem to have a sense of optimism about them.
Some of the people I met had been in the camp since 2014 when ISIS was driven from Sinjar and although they speak about emigrating to Australia or Canada or even Germany, you get the feeling that they don’t really believe it will actually happen. “These things take time”, they are constantly told, but when home is a tent with a concrete floor and your living space doubles as your sleeping space and the tent is stifling in summer but freezing in winter, time is your enemy and not your friend.
“What are we doing here?”, I thought. “How can we possibly make a difference when the government, with their vast resources, don’t seem able to do anything? Lord, there are 27,000 people in this camp. Our resources are minimal, and we are so few; how can we make a difference?”
The Lord spoke into my heart and reminded me of a few key things.
God is a God of love. He loves those who are in the camp and calls us to love them too. We cannot reach the whole camp at once – it’s simply too big – but we can love those with whom we come in contact. Love transforms situations which are seemingly hopeless because love speaks hope.
Hope is hope, not just for the time that we live on this earth whatever our situation, but also for eternity when we come to know God’s greatest expression of love, His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ and so we must tell them of Jesus, helping equip others to do the same.
God is the God who cares for and identifies with the suffering. He calls us to alleviate personal suffering where we can, using the resources with which we have been entrusted. We must not let the cry of need from the camp go unheard.
God is the God who offers hope. We can bring hope, this lasting and eternal hope, by showing Christ to the broken, the forsaken and the despairing refugees.
Will you help us and listen to the cry of those who often feel themselves to be unheard and forgotten?