The victims of ISIS need more than #prayforParis (and Beirut, Kenya, etc).
They need us to #prayAND.
Let us be clear: #prayforParis and French flags over profile pictures are good first steps–we cannot underestimate the value of standing with and for the victims. But let’s be equally clear on this point: empathy left on its own soon withers into mere pity. Also, please don’t hear me saying that prayer isn’t of huge value; God clearly calls us to pray.
But here is a truth we must live out: people of faith have always begun with prayer, but true people of faith never stop at prayer.
There are so many victims that its hard to know where to start. But since we have to start somewhere, my family and I have started with some of the victims who have born the brunt of the evil of ISIS.
Syrian refugees would give everything to be as safe as the people of Paris were the night of Nov 13th.
Let that sink in.
Syrian refugees have given everything just for the chance at that level of safety. They have walked across countries and sailed across seas, just to get to a place where the terrorists, terrifying as they may be, are confined to the shadows and operate on the run. But where the refugees come from, ISIS operates in broad daylight, with no one left to stop them, no one from whom they must run.
Imagine a world where SWAT teams descend on the Bataclan theater, neutralize the terrorists, and then… begin raping the women, beheading the men, and dragging the young girls off into sexual slavery.
This is the world the Syrian refugees are fleeing.
The image of young Aylan Kurdi lying dead on the shoreline is inextricably linked to the image of blood and bodies strewn across the floor of that theater. When the West saw the first, we asked, “Why in the hell are they subjecting their children to dangerous voyages, without even proper life vests?” When the West saw the images coming out of Paris we finally understood exactly what kind of hell they were fleeing.
The time for empathy for both pictures has come and gone. The time for action is upon us.
It is time to do more than #prayforparis.
It is time to #prayAND.
My family’s first #AND was to give money; we started with the International Rescue Committee. In fact, when my boy saw this video and he saw where kids his age were sleeping, he decided to give half of his hard-earned money as well (which he earns one quarter at a time). We’re also looking long-term: our next #prayAND was to talk to local refugee aid groups in our city to see where we can get plugged in at home.
This isn’t a political issue; it’s a people issue. But, your #prayAND might be political advocacy. Please, please, please don’t debate political issues as a means to mask your apathy and inactivity. Do something. Advocate here.
Maybe your #prayAND involves welcoming real people to the real city that you really live in. Sometimes the first step is the most daunting. Take this step.
Maybe your whole church could #prayAND by partnering with other churches in Europe who are on the front lines. Don’t just dream–do.
Here’s a thought. You know those little “I voted” stickers people get in the US on election day? You don’t get them unless you vote. Unless you do something. What if those flag-tinged profile pictures were like that? What if all those profile pictures represented more than empathy?
What if we did something the victims of ISIS could actually feel?
So here’s the deal. I’m going all in on this one; I’m leveraging every amount of influence I have. Have I ever influenced you in a positive way? Do you like me? Do you find value in this blog? Then #prayAND by giving $10. It’ll take less time than reading this post took you. Clicking ‘like’ doesn’t do a damn thing for the victims. DO SOMETHING.
Have you known me in person? Have I added any value of any kind to your life? Then I’m begging you on this one–do it. #prayAND.
And I’m under no illusions as to the reach of my tiny blog audience. Tell your friends to tell their friends to tell their friends.
Tell them to do more than feel sad. Tell them to #prayAND.
“Let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and truth.”