Aylan & Prayers for a More Just & Welcoming World
The humanitarian crisis caused by the civil war in Syria would have been easier for Americans to ignore ten or fifteen years ago. But now, with a twenty-four hour news cycle, social media, and the internet literally at our fingertips--this human tragedy is in front of us almost constantly.
I have been haunted for weeks by the images of the 3 year-old boy, Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed ashore on the Turkish coast after the overloaded boat carrying his family along with other Syrian refugees capsized, killing Aylan, his mother, brother and nine other people. Aylan's family was trying to get to Greece, and from there they hoped to eventually join his father's sister in Canada.
I have read all of the conflicting accounts of what happened, and the convoluted statements from Aylan's father as well. Honestly, none of that matters to me. What matters is the image of that 3 year-old little boy lying face down on a Turkish beach.
Several years ago, my youngest son almost drowned in our pool. He was almost two, and we were just starting to teach him to swim, but he hadn't mastered it yet. My wife and I were standing in the kitchen making dinner and talking while he was playing with his toys in the living room. For some reason, I suddenly missed him, and realized that the sliding glass door was open in the same moment.
Filled with dread, I rushed out to the pool and was greeted with the sight of my son's shirt near the top of the pool. When I got to him, he was on his back, under water with a look of sheer terror on his face. I pulled him out in a flash and turned him over quickly as he coughed, threw up water and started crying. If I had arrived in another sixty seconds we may have lost him. I will never forget that day. I held on to him by the side of the pool, crying and praying to God--thanking him for giving my son back to me.
So these thoughts go through my head as I think about this Syrian family who just wanted a better life. I think about how my son is alive, and well and watching cartoons in the next room. I think about the life I lead in a land of plenty and peace.
I think about how God gave my son back to me from the water.
And I think of little Aylan, a little boy, who I see laughing and playing in some photos, and lying on a beach, washed ashore like garbage in others. And I pray that God was with him in the water when no one was there to lift him out of it, and I pray that he wasn't too frightened in the end.
And I then think of the grief that his father must feel, and the sorrow, and the bitterness toward a world that doesn't seem to hear, or see or even care that for over eleven million refugees from Syria--life as they once knew it is over, forever.
I also think about the countless social media and blog posts that I have seen from people claiming to be Christians who are so filled with fear of potential terror plots, and senseless hysteria that they would gladly turn needy people away in order to avoid even the slightest chance that there might be an extremist among them.
I would have taken Aylan. I would have welcomed him. He could have played with my boys, built Legos with them, ran in the grass, climbed the trees in my yard. He could have fallen asleep at night under a good roof, a soft bed. He could have watched cartoons on the couch with my sons.
And he could have lived here with us in a land of peace and opportunity where he could have grown up to be whatever he wanted to be, gone as far as his dreams could have taken him.
I think about Aylan, and all of the little ones like him who are lost and afraid.
And I pray.
And I long for Jesus to change this world.
And I know that it has to begin with you, and with me.
If you want to learn more about the Syrian crisis click here.
Read about what Syrians are packing with them as they flee.
Experience one of these desperate crossings through the eyes of refugees.
Join my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA) in their efforts to help.
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