*This is a guest post from Michal. Together with her friend Sondos the pair post on the site MissUnderstanding: Two Faiths, One Friendship. The blog is, "a space where Michal and Sondos will post their reflections — independently and jointly — on what it means to be a practicing Christian and practicing Muslim while building a foundation of mutual respect and understanding." Reading through their reflections, their honest musings, and personal lessons is refreshing. It challenges individuals on all sides -- believing or not, liberal or conservative -- to consider what it means to build relationships across religious and social boundaries to find something beautiful and more fulfilling than what the popular, but misplaced, "us v. them" divides often do.
That theme is a regular motif on this site. Thus, I invited Michal to repost a guest blog for this site, in which she talks about "what is ours to do?" when we see/hear disparaging news from the Middle East, which is unfortunately so relevant amidst news from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, and elsewhere. Thank you Michal.
Watching the news about the Middle East each day is overwhelming, to say the least. Muslims and Christians (and many other groups!) face death, loss of family and friends, property and dignity. The suffering and pain is indescribable. Several close friends in the region are doing very brave work providing in medical, educational and spiritual help wherever they can. The work is overwhelming, but they push on and make a difference. I am very inspired by them.
So much so that I have strongly contemplating leaving my life in the US to join them. I especially wanted to help refugee kids like in the picture above that I used for a research project on Syrian children. Part of that desire was coming out of a growing love in my heart and another was coming out of guilt. I felt bad for my comfortable life in the West and wanted to do what my friends did in the Middle East.
However, upon praying and investigating it further, I did not get confirmation from God that it was my time to go. It is clear that He has work for me to do here in the West right now. Still, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed and unsure what I needed to do with the strong urge to want to do something.
I shared my feeling of helplessness with my friends in the region and they assured me that I could definitely help. Here are three things they suggested:
First off, they asked for prayer. God can do things we think are impossible! A second would be to get educated. They advised me to read from different sources about what is going on and seek to get a first-hand account from people that are living in the region. Lastly would be to support organizations that do great work in the area. Many of them are extremely underfunded. I prefer to focus on organizations that do not only help their own faith community, but anyone and everyone that is in need.
One such organization is Preemptive Love. They provide heart-surgeries, refugee relief and business development for Iraqis, Syrians, Libyans, Pakistanis and on and on. My favorite part is that they have wonderful stories of Muslims and Christians working together for peace and healing, stories that are often not heard in mainstream media.
The funny thing is that these hopeful stories encourage me in my work of peacemaking in the US. If Muslims and Christians can make peace with each other right in ISIS’s backyard, what is stopping us?
We cannot all go to the Middle East and help out, although I pray many will and I can go one day as well. However, we are all shaped uniquely and can all help in a small, yet still very significant way. It starts with one courageous prayer a mentor of mine taught me to pray… we ask God: "What is mine to do?"