When I first started my “Seek the Good” project, it began with a dream to find voices that needed to be heard, to put a megaphone where there had been none, in order to pierce the darkness in our world with light–with hope. Something was stirring in my heart to tell meaningful stories locally and internationally, and now that dream is becoming a reality. Let me fill you in on what my Spring will look like…
This December I was asked to join a team working to mobilize locals, aid-workers, missionaries, etc. across Europe to care for refugees in the midst of this historic human migration. If you aren’t aware of what is happening across the Middle East and Europe, I encourage you to start paying attention. Ever since the start of the Syrian civil war, over 11 million Syrians have been killed or forced to flee their country (that is over half of the country’s entire population). Many have turned to neighboring countries and a growing few are turning to Europe for refuge. And it’s not just Syrians. By the end of 2015, Europe surpassed the 1 million mark of people (Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis, etc.) fleeing their war-torn countries and seeking safety on European shores. The video below powerfully represents the humanity of this crisis.
Many of the relief efforts up until now have been slow to start, but full of sincerity in their efforts to meet the complex needs of this migration. Some of the “big fish” in the humanitarian pond like the UNHCR and Red Cross are already working with refugees, but this issue is too big to be left to large (and often slow-moving) organizations alone. In order to meet the immediate and long-term needs of our brothers and sisters moving to Europe, we need a movement of ordinary people, locals, and churches.
That is where the team I’m joining is hoping to step in. Starting in February a small research team and I will be traveling from Greece to Germany/Denmark along Europe’s refugee highway in order to face this crisis head-on.
Over the course of 1-2 months, we will be living out of backpacks and making our way north to meet with numerous contacts and establish approximately 7 “Points of Light” (or “hubs”) for humanitarian and ministry efforts. These are places where volunteers and resources could then be sent as the year progresses. We already have a network of thousands of young people in the U.S. who want to do something and the goal of this research team is to 1.) establish a system/model to unite volunteers with local contacts and appropriately meet the specific needs of refugees in different regions and 2.) share the stories of the migrants, locals, and volunteers we meet along the way so that people like you can see the humanity in a crisis that often get’s reduced to statistics.
My role on this team is to act as the “social media storyteller” through writing, photography, and video. As we travel, I’ll be collecting stories for a big social media prayer effort via thesyriancircle.com and will also tell stories from a neutral perspective (likely on this blog). You can follow The Syrian Circle on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for these posts.
We are a Christian group trying to make a difference by meeting the immediate needs of refugees and to provide hope and love for the people making this journey into Europe. By providing tangible support and compassion via an established network across Europe, our ultimate hope is that we can introduce any who are interested to the love of Christ.
No one is paying our team to do this. We have been voluntarily meeting and furiously planning for the past few weeks, deciding to put everything on hold and go because while we see a great need, we are also hearing stories of the incredible ways God has been moving to breathe life into a desperate situation. Throughout history, similar mass migrations have dramatically changed the course of history and, seeing this, our team is hoping to be one piece of the puzzle that moves Europe’s and the Middle East’s future towards peace.
If all goes well, our team will step in to unite the hands of incredible people and organizations already working with refugees and equip international volunteers with the tools to work alongside these contacts. Then we’ll step back and do our best to make sure these connections are self-sustaining and best serve the people who need it most. If you’re someone who prays, please add yourself to the prayer list on thesyriancircle.com and keep our team in your prayers as we step into uncharted waters.
(featured image from Time magazine)
**If you would like to support our team financially, you can donate via Overlake Christian Church (our church who is partnering with The Syrian Circle) via this link!
1.) Click “DONATE TO A PROJECT OR TEAM”
2.) Sign in/create account and donate to the “Refugee Crisis Project”