The Syrian Refugee Crisis…And You!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
-Galatians 6:9

The Bad:

A Syrian refugee holds a baby in a refug...A Syrian refugee holds a baby in a refugee camp set in the town of Harmanli, south-east of Sofia on November 12, 2013. Bulgaria's asylum centres are severely overcrowded after the arrival of almost 10,000 refugees this year, half of them Syrian. The influx has fuelled anti-immigrant sentiment in a country already struggling with dire poverty. AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOVNIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images
A Syrian refugee holds a baby in a refug…A Syrian refugee holds a baby in a refugee camp set in the town of Harmanli, south-east of Sofia on November 12, 2013. Bulgaria’s asylum centres are severely overcrowded after the arrival of almost 10,000 refugees this year, half of them Syrian. The influx has fuelled anti-immigrant sentiment in a country already struggling with dire poverty. AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOVNIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images

Since the Syrian civil war took place five years ago, an estimated 4,000,000 (that’s MILLION) refugees have left the war-torn country.  Many have flooded into neighboring countries
It boggles the mind that there are countries in our world who would turn a blind eye to the plight of asylum seekers and refugees.  It has been reported that some of the wealthiest countries in the Middle East are doing nothing to help welcome foreign refugees from Syria.  The same can be said for some European countries as well.  Let’s call it for what it is.  This isn’t about fears of the economic mainframe and fears that a country can’t support a sudden influx of refugees.  This isn’t about resources at all, because either the EU would step in and help as would the United Nations.  In fact, just today one of the UN’s top officials said this current refugee crisis needs a global response (Source: UN Response To Current Crisis)   The refusal by some nations to help displaced Syrian families is abhorrent, wrong and despicable.   Apathy seems to be running rampant in parts of the world.  Self-interests are in play here, as is the practice of turning a blind eye and pretending it doesn’t really exist.  This is about inconvenience.  Some of this is also about ethnic and ideological differences.  Racism still exists.  Bigotry within cultures, religion and lifestyles still exist, and is alive and kicking.

The Good:

Fleeing bombardment of their village by Syria's Assad regime,
Fleeing bombardment of their village by Syria’s Assad regime, “Um Ali,” 38, as the mother of six children asked to be called, sits in the back of the cave they have found as their own shelter. The cave, just outside the village of al Sahriah, measures about 12 by 35 feet. (Andree Kaiser/MCT)

Germany was one of the first countries to step up and do something about this humanitarian crisis.
They have pledged to take up to 500,000 refugees a year!  That is amazing generosity, compassion and willingness to do something remarkable when others have turned a blind eye to the plight of these displaced families in need.
Now, the tide is (hopefully) turning – The Vatican has pledged support and is urging other nations and Christians to do the same.  Some countries, like the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and France are beginning to feel the pressure to offer more than just a band-aid solution but, perhaps a new home to many who are now homeless because of this horrific civil war.

More Still Remains To Be Done:

DAMASCUS, SYRIA - JANUARY 31: In this handout provided by the United Nation Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Residents wait in line to receive food aid distributed in the Yarmouk refugee camp on January 31, 2014 in Damascus, Syria. The United Nations renewed calls for the Syria regime and rebels to allow food and medical aid into the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk. An estimated 18,000 people are besieged inside the camp as the conflict in Syria continues. (Photo by United Nation Relief and Works Agency via Getty Images)
DAMASCUS, SYRIA – JANUARY 31: In this handout provided by the United Nation Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Residents wait in line to receive food aid distributed in the Yarmouk refugee camp on January 31, 2014 in Damascus, Syria. The United Nations renewed calls for the Syria regime and rebels to allow food and medical aid into the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk. An estimated 18,000 people are besieged inside the camp as the conflict in Syria continues. (Photo by United Nation Relief and Works Agency via Getty Images)

There is still hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who are seeking peace and a new home.
Syria is most notable war torn country in the news currently; but other places in the world are suffering the same fate year after year; places like Sudan – currently in South Sudan there are more than 600,000 refugees who have fled to the Southern boarders while another 1.5 million people are currently displaced and without a place to call home. (Source: South Sudan Refugee Exodus Continues)

What Can We Do?
How can we help?  We are just soldiers, people, seemingly little in our community…but we are wrong, we do have a voice and must make it heard!
We must continue to give a voice to those who do not have a voice.
We must fight for the powerless, the suffering, the homeless, the refugee, the trafficked sex slaves, the child soldier.
In this current crisis, and crises like it in our world, we must stand against injustice.

In the United States:
Write your state representative or better yet call them
Here is a list of their numbers – Phone Numbers To Call
Urge them to apply pressure to offer more support to the Syrian Refugee Crisis.

In Canada: 
Look up your local/governmental officials and apply pressure to help
Contact Information

In The United Kingdom:
Here are some rather current information as to what is being done in the UK –
FactSheet
But more can be done and you can urge your government officials.

I can’t list all of your wonderful countries here today but I would suggest that where ever you live, you must apply some pressure to your governmental units.  Remind them, urge them to help.  We cannot sit idly by while innocent men, women and children are displaced and are suffering.  Turning a blind eye is a conscious choice to not care.  Don’t allow apathy and selfishness to invade your heart!  Do something!

More resources and information:
The Salvation Army Assists Refugees
The Greek Salvation Army Caring For Refugees
UN Refugee Agency
CNN News Report

Something more to ponder today!

Dear Salvation Army, When Leadership Fails

 “The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)

The calling of Samuel is a tragic story.
It should not have happened this way.
When we think of Samuel we only remember him anointing David at God’s behest, but many times we don’t think of why Samuel was called in the first place.

The short version:
Eli (High Priest at the central sanctuary of Shiloh, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept) and his sons had failed within their leadership responsibilities.  Eli had turned a blind eye to his sons wickedness.  In a way Eli allowed their activities to continue by not dealing with the situations.  A personal/painful note: dealing with situations and sin issues is hard enough, when it’s within the family it can be even harder.

Samuel is called by God, because Eli and his sons had failed.
It is actually a very tragic tale that could have been avoided, but this story should also serve as a lesson in leadership, integrity and accountability to all of us who are serving Christ within The Salvation Army.

No, I am not calling anyone out…but sometimes if the shoe fits…

Heart Attacks And Leadership…
When someone has a traumatic cardiac event (heart attack), there are usually warning signs before the actual event:  Extreme fatigue,  a feeling of suffocating, trouble catching ones breath, dizziness, profuse sweating, a sudden flu or cold days before, panic attacks, chest pains.
-These are just a few warning signs that could indicate someone ought to have their heart checked.
Becoming attentive to these warning signs could potentially save someone’s life.
Ignoring such signs, well, I’m sure you get the picture.

Just as there are warning signs with failing hearts, there are also warning signs with failing leaders as well.
To ignore such signs could become very tragic indeed.

3 Warning Signs The Indicates Leadership Failure:

1. When Leadership Becomes Lethargic and Stale: apathy
When I say “lethargic” I wish to convey the notion that apathy and laziness is a real killer to organizations!
We, as an Army, have no room for apathy and laziness.
We, as an Army, cannot afford to NOT care about the souls of the lost.
We, as an Army, cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of people…EVER, regardless of who they are, where they’re from and what they currently stand for.  We cannot ignore this warning sign if it is present within our ministries.  Lethargic leaders are dead leaders walking.  Organizations and Churches have seen far too many of these leaders, we cannot keep the mission while entertaining such a failed form of leadership.  Apathy will lead to God selecting others to replace us if we allow it to become our identity as leaders.  Such leaders are not godly.  Such leaders will be removed.  Such leaders will be held accountable to God.

shallow2.  When Leadership Becomes Anorexic: 
You know the devastating effects of anorexia on the body.  It is a sad disease that robs people of their dignity and ultimately their lives.  In the same way, there is such a thing as anorexic leadership.  It is the “spiritual” leader that has no spiritual depth.  It is the leader that lacks integrity.  It is the leader that says one thing but does another.  It is the leader who isn’t willing to do the hard work but expects the hard work done by other people.  It is the wasting away of the spiritual body that leads to the death of the spiritual body.  Anorexic leadership will kill an organization.  It can kill The Salvation Army.  If leaders are appointed, who have no spiritual depth, but instead are simply climbing the ladder and are in search for power and personal gain, it will kill an organization!  It will kill the mission!  Please, please, please, note this warning sign, dear Army.  Anorexic leadership is very real and, dare I say it even exists right now within our Army in various forms.  Don’t allow it to waste you away!  Don’t allow it to hollow us out.  Don’t entertain such folly.  It. will. kill. you!

3.  When Leadership Becomes Amaurotic: blind
Eli, the High Priest, turned a blind eye to the actions and activities of his sons.  He was guilty because he did nothing to intervene and to stop the sins taking place.  Let’s call sin for what it is.  Let’s not beat around the bush.  If we see a brother or sister stumbling or falling back into old sinful patterns WE MUST DO SOMETHING to save them!  Dare I say (and dare I will) that if we turn a blind eye to their activities, we too are just as guilty!  The word “Amaurotic” is related to a medical condition of the eyes.  It is what happens when damage takes place to the eyes that causes blindness of one kind or another.  Amaurotic leadership, is blind leadership.  It is leadership that is gutless.  It is a “do nothing” leadership that does not hold people accountable and does not keep the standards high within the body of Christ.  We are called to be set apart.  blind1We are called to be a city on a hill.  We are called to be salt and light.  But what happens when that light begins to dim?  What happens when that “set apartness” is all meshed back up with the old sinful ways so you can’t tell them apart anymore?  We need clear vision.  We need solid soldiers.  We need solid officers.  We need solid leaders who can see even into the difficult things and not turn a blind eye.  If we lose the vision, the body will fall apart.  If we fall apart, God will chose someone else.  God will appoint someone else to replace us.

The Warning Signs & Organizational Observations:
Organizations can sometimes overshadow the mission, it can become too big for its own good.  It can develop so much that the “developing” aspect eventually replaces the original mission and reason for being.  Eli and his sons, lost their way.  They became too important in their own minds.
Organizations can sometimes play politics instead of practicing prophecy.   mouth
I don’t mean “fore-knowledge” like predicting the future.  What I mean is that a prophet of God is to be the very mouth piece of God.  One who speaks for God.  One who leads others to God.  One who ushers souls and lives to be transformed by God.  A mouth piece of God practices holiness and lives holiness.  Sometimes, I fear, The Salvation Army is better at playing politics than practicing prophecy.  I don’t mean everyone, but sometimes we can lose our way.  Sometimes we can become lost in the mix of “business”, policy, “law keeping” instead of life changing, heart reconciliation, “Holy Spirit moving us once again to our knees” kind of  practicing.

Questions to ponder today: 
Have we become lethargic in our ministries?
Have we become anorexic with our spiritual depth?
Have we become amaurotic with our mission?
I don’t offer this pondering today to accuse or provide some sort of “guilt trip”, I merely wonder if it’s time once again to kneel before Father with a spiritual check-up and possibly become reconciled to Him again.

God replaced Eli and his sons, he could very well do the same with us if we are not living as we should!
May this be a sobering reminder to us all today.
Perhaps this is a wake up call.
Perhaps this is a warning to our hearts by the Holy Spirit to continually seek repentance and live out His calling upon our lives.

-Something more for this Army to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

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