Jesus, shortly after his birth, was a sojourner – an alien living in the foreign land of Egypt.
Sojourner – noun – so·journ·er – \ˈsō-ˌjərn-ərˈ\ – one who sojourns:
Pilgrim – noun – pil·grim – \ˈpil-grəm\ – 1 : one who journeys in foreign lands:
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
Colossians 1:11-12 ESV
Sojourn – noun – so·journ – \ˈsō-ˌjərnˈ\ – a temporary period of time when you stay in a place as a traveler or guest;
After the Paris terror attacks, I asked myself a simple question,
“How can I pray for Syria and help her refugees in the coming New Year?“
For Thanksgiving week and through New Year’s, I offer this challenge and prayer for the Church, specifically in Dallas, TX, but also to the global holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. This is particularly important for the Church in Dallas, since it is the second largest city in the United States which participates in the US refugee resettlement program.
During this week of Thanksgiving, join us and download the Biblical Counseling Through Song playlist, “Serving Our Enemies in Prayer: Psalm 46 – Ephesians 6:10-20” and pray for Syria and her refugees along side of the global Church – in Dallas and to the ends of the Earth. A few suggestions of when to listen would be as you drive this Thanksgiving week through New Year’s, as background music while at work, or use as a playlist for morning prayer walks.
The playlist outline is simple:
1) God is our Refuge and Strength (Psalm 46:1)
2) God the Father desires to be loved (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)
3) Jesus wants us to love our neighbor (Luke 10:25-37)
4) The Holy Spirit empowers us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48)
5) Have no fear, we are a Holy City no longer forsaken (Revelation 21)
May we in the Church recognize ourselves as sojourners. Psalm 39:12 labels us as such, “…for I am a sojourner with You, a guest like my fathers.” May we pause, consider, and respond to God. We, like them, are merely sojourners passing through this mortal coil. We will not be long here, may we love deeply while we are. Our sojourning Syrian brothers, sisters, and friends who have escaped the terror in their homeland are hurting.
As fellow sojourners, may we love other fellow sojourners well. May we see that we are merely beggars showing other beggars where to find some bread. The sojourners most in need of the Church’s love right now in the world are Syria’s refugees. They are a people whose homeland has been destroyed and her sons and daughters decimated.
Let me be clear, refugees are not our enemies. However, there most certainly will be terrorists clothed in sheep’s clothing among them, yet Jesus still commands us to love. We stand before Him without excuse with regard to serving Syrian refugees. God desires for us to love Him, calls us to love our neighbor, and empowers us to love, even our harshest enemies. God loves even “That Guy“.
God loves us; not because we are lovable but because He is love,
not because he needs to receive, but because He delights to give.
– C.S. Lewis, “Letters of C.S. Lewis”
Pause. Take time to meditate upon God’s Grace given to you this this year.
The biggest killer of our personal time with the Lord is time frittered away on our devices. If you need some help putting your phone in its place, consider downloading the Forest app. This app allows us to plant a forest of redeemed time and gives encouragement to end our mobile device addiction. This app might even help us to make our Thanksgiving dinners a time of deep attention to one another.
Consider. Put yourself in the shoes of a Syrian refugee. Your home has been destroyed. Your land is under siege. You have left home on a perilous journey to find refuge.
For those living in Dallas, particularly Lakewood and Lake Highlands, you have the nations living among you. Every time you are at Northpark Mall across 75, the nations are before you. An Intro to Vickery Meadows from Jeremy Pace.
The below video from Buzzfeed puts a human face on the Syrian refugees and their children. It is simply entitled, “Where Young Syrian Refugees Sleep”.
How can you pray for Syria and help her refugees in the coming New Year?
Respond. You, a sojourner who was once way off, have been brought near.
May we love the sojourner among us.
To help us consider how we might respond, I have collaborated with the contributing artists to meditate upon how we might love these refugees by praying for them. We are not naive. We know the possible danger of possible terrorists hiding among them. Two years ago, we released this after the Boston Terror attacks.
Yet after the Paris Terror attacks and faced with the implosion of Syria, we will sow what we reap as a Church and as a nation. Indifference by the Church will only lead to the growth of the next generation of terrorists. Yet, if we love these Syrian refugees well, we stand to reap a harvest yet unseen in the Muslim world. They need our help.
Let me remind you that the vast majority of the New Testament was penned by a former terrorist destroying the Church who was “seized by the power of a great affection” and blinded by the Light of Christ. If God transformed Saul into the apostle Paul, he can use any one of His children for His Glory – no matter their past or current sins.
1 John 4:7-12, ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
Meditating upon God’s Grace given to us, impels Thanksgiving. In the book of Colossians, the apostle Paul exhorts us to “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” I pray we can meditate and sing together in one accord this holiday season.
The Syrian refugees are sojourners. I am a fellow sojourner. Jesus has sojourned before us and sojourns with us by the power of His Holy Spirit.
May we love Syria’s refugees as Christ has loved us.
John 1:9-14, ESV
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed, but increased.
– C.S. Lewis, “Letters of C.S. Lewis”
Because we love something else more than this world, we love even this world better than those who know no other.
– C.S. Lewis, “God in the Dock”
How can we pray for Syria and help her refugees in the coming New Year?
Going Deeper: Ways to Respond
1) Sign the petition to Gov. Greg Abbott to allow Syrian refugees to be resettled in Texas
2) Like the refugee ministry, Seek the Peace, in Vickery Meadows on Facebook and Twitter
3) Identify yourself as a “Fellow Sojourner” on Facebook and Twitter with this tile
4) Join us in prayer on Thursday mornings in your prayer closet or collectively with members of Christ City Church in Vickery Meadows from 7:00-9:00 for Syria
5) Read how prayer for our enemies is the most effective form of warfare
6) Enjoy John Oliver
7) Consider the scope of the Syrian crisis with Question Time
Spread the word with your Facebook/Twitter profile image : (right click, “Save image as..”)