Katie Huntsberry is a mother, wife, and feminist. She shares with Boshemia her perspective on the refugee crisis in Syria as a modern Christian. This is her first post for Boshemia.
It’s Christmastime again, and if you’re of a Christian denomination like myself, then you know that around this time 2050ish years ago, Joseph was leading a very pregnant Mary to Bethlehem for a census.
Being of the house of David, Bethlehem was technically Joseph’s home. While there, as we all know, Mary gave birth to the messiah – Jesus Christ. A star appeared over their home and there were visited by three magi bringing with them gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What you may have gotten wrong from the Christmas pageants of your childhood is that the Magi actually took about two years to find the Christ child. While on their way, the stopped by the home of Herod – the King of Judaea – to ask if he knew where they could find the child who would become the king of the Jews. Herod did not know, but he asked that they bring back word to him of where the child was so that he too could worship the babe. The Magi went on their way, found Jesus, presented their gifts, and suspecting Herod’s evil intentions did not tell him where to find the baby. Sensing the Magi would not be telling him where Jesus was, Herod put out a decree that all boys under the age of two in Judaea be killed. An angel came to Joseph to warn him of the coming danger and to tell him to take his family and flee to the land of Egypt. So, at the tender age of two, or maybe a little younger, our savior became a refugee.
Two thousand years after Christ was forced to flee Judaea, our own modern human rights disaster is unfolding. Syria continues to be ravaged by a brutal civil war. It began four years ago when Syrian President Assad began to violently respond to calls for his removal. The war is made up of Assad’s army, rebels who call themselves the Free Syrian Army, and terrorist groups such as ISIS.
Civilians have been torn amidst this incredibly complex conflict of political tensions and massacres. The United Nations estimates that 13.5 million refugees have been displaced as a result of the civil war. These are terrified, broken human beings who simply want to find a place where they can live free from the fear of their homes being bombed or their children being shot in the street.
I have heard many reasons as for why we shouldn’t accept refugees into the United States. I have heard our President Elect’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and I have heard the fears of everyday Americans: You fear they could be terrorists; you fear they’ll try to somehow convert you to Islam; you fear they will somehow destroy us or our way of life. These fears are ignorant, selfish ones.
I ask you, as a Christian, as a human, as someone who even possibly identifies as pro-life, can you look at Aylan Kurdi’s body and say he would have destroyed our nation? Can you look at the lifeless body of a child, a child the size of our Messiah when he fled to Egypt, and say that child does not deserve our compassion?
We cannot deny the human rights of 13.5 million people simply because a few disgusting individuals want to poison you against the refugees.
If the Western world denies the refugees and decides to fear and hate all Muslims than the refugees, if they want to live, will end up with no choice but to turn to ISIS for protection or die. Death might be a real choice, as some women in Syria have taken to committing suicide to avoid eventual capture and rape. If in our ignorance we hate all Muslims and refuse to show Christian compassion then ISIS’s numbers will grow.
But how can I help from a world away?
There are a great many things you can do here. One of the biggest things is to donate money to countries and services which currently are taking in Refugees. This includes UNHCR or CRS (Catholic Relief Services). You can also donate to The White Helmets which is a rescue group on the ground in Syria doing what they can to rescue the civilians affected by the war. CRS has also set up a convenient page where you can send a letter to our leaders letting them know we want to support the refugee crisis. For that, see here.
The last thing I would recommend, my apprehensive Christian brothers and sisters, is to pray. This advent, as you are preparing your heart for the coming of Jesus Christ, remember his tumultuous life of suffering here on Earth. The refugees aren’t asking for a handout or for us to convert to their faith. They’re not asking to be given our jobs or our homes. They are asking to live in a country where bombs won’t drop on their little ones.
If I was that mother, or if Mary the mother of God was that mother, I would want a country to take us in.