Change is in the Air

I promise this piece is not about a new administration, but that new administration is part of what I’m referring to. I love to write about what I observe. Within the last two months there are 8 significant people in my life that are having significant shifts in jobs regarding their long labor of love, destinies, and increase in authority and influence. This is a new season! I observe things but never think about naming them because I know their purpose is as transient as the wind in God’s work in orchestrating the hearts of men. “Upgrade” sounds cheesy and christian dumb but it is all that is coming to mind. I also know that overtime, faithful labor commonly results in reward increase, its just natural in the flow of life, but I’m telling you I don’t talk to a bunch of people and when eight of them are experiencing this how can one miss it?!?

I LOVE change. I love risk. I love the undetermined and the uncertain. It feels like traveling but I don’t even leave town. Ironically we did abruptly leave town to care for some family, but often when there is significant change God peels my whiny-souled fingers from gripping anything tightly and I recognize his hand taking mind and relax once again to rest in watching him work, only aiming to be authentic to myself and what I communicate in the process, being sure to never never never manipulate an outcome. Who wants to be the disappointing Saul as he ascended into leadership? No one. Manipulating the affections of men, feels stinky to my soul and if anything I have to intentionally avoid swinging too much in the opposite direction and not shut down my authenticity in some way.

One thing I do know is that I sure appreciate the verses that relatively say. God is in control over bringing about the calling on your life and the purposes of why you were made. I don’t even know why I’m made or what the point of everything is, but I do know what it feels like to spend my days executing things I am especially competent for or excited about. I hope you are operating in your niche. Don’t worry about what that looked like in past seasons, you’re not meant to carry your yesterday identity into today if God’s not calling for it. I often remember old versions of myself but those illusions don’t exist now. They used to, but are intangible. Just think how much bs I no longer put up with because of this glorious wisdom I came across through grand failure?

All I keep trying to focus on seasons of change like this is operating out of love. What else really matters? God is going to position us where he wants us. There will be challenges that are uncomfortable –that’s called growth by the way. But what can I control? How I interact with people and how I carry my heart regarding people in my internal world. How kind can I be? What does extravagant kindness cost me? Does love really cover all in my life? If so, where doesn’t love cover all in my relationships with other people? Don’t get me wrong, in my tired moments or sensitive areas, I can still be a jerk, but often even that is magnified in my head and is a position of my heart I have to change my mind about because it’s obviously not working, or at the very least, not fun.

If you are going through uncertain change, know you are not alone, there is a wave you are riding that you cannot control, and you have been prepared for this. Take rest in his sovereignty, his plans, and his goodness, whether or not you understand it or whether or not you have the answers you want right now.  Blessings!

Update on the Current Christian Iraqi Refugee Crisis in the Middle East

We arrived in Jordan one year ago to date.   Nothing has changed during that time for the course of tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees still stuck here in Jordan.   We have witnessed 25,000 Muslim Syrian refugees leave Jordan and go to Canada in the first three months of 2016.   I can count on my hands the number of Iraqi Christian refugees I have seen leave during the entire year.   When we first arrived in June of 2015, these refugees were distressed and seemingly without hope.  Now a year later they are even more desperate, emotionally less stable and still seemingly without hope.

Months ago, some families were told they were welcome with open arms only to have the world turn their face away after the shocking Paris attacks.  When people see the faces of Iraqi Christians refugees, they are clumped together with the faces of terrorist extremists, whether intentionally or unintentionally so.

Backstory

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For more than hundreds of years Christians have settled in the area of the Nineveh plains, otherwise known as Mosul.  They speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.  Additional Christians resettled here ten years ago as they fled Baghdad and the war that began to tare that city to shreds.  Mosul was defended by the Kurdish army otherwise known as the Peshmerga.  In the dark of night in June of 2014, the church bells rang through the city.  The Peshmerga had fled and ISIS was coming and would be in the city in three hours.  Thousands of families grabbed what they could in their hands and fled; some in cars, others on foot with children in the darkness for hours.  They all had one destination: Irbil, Kurdish territory.

Today

That was the terrible day that began the displacement of thousands of Christians in the Middle East.  Still they are without resettlement or any real hope of it.  In Jordan there is no feasibility for staying, there is no possibility even for the consideration of it.  The Jordanian government has given them five years tops for transitioning through to other countries.  In the meantime, these families cannot work, drive cars, or earn a living here, etc.  Live is stressful and different when a family has no intention of staying.  You don’t build relationships, you don’t seek to identify with the people, don’t attend school; you don’t plant roots.  Some families are still afraid to leave their homes.

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People in the West may think Jordan and Iraq are neighbors so at least it still is the same culture, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  In Jordan, the people speak a different language, eat entirely different foods, have a different religion, history and traditions.  The same goes for the northern Iraqi city of Irbil where there are thousands of refugees—now called IDPs, or internally displaced people are housed in camps.  To the West, Kurdistan is still Iraq.  In reality, Kurdistan is distinctly not Arab.  Kurdistan is Kurdish.  They exclusively speak the Kurdish language, eat Kurdish food, and live Kurdish.  If you are Arab, you are the what threatens their way of life, and here too, the Assyrian Christians have been lumped into the Arab threat.

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Here in Jordan, even now, new families are coming over every week from Irbil.  At first, my husband and I thought it was because they heard of a few families finally getting to leave, but after doing research we learned it is actually because the families that had fled to Irbil were staying there in the hopes that their lost land and homes would be one day be recaptured back from ISIS, delivering them from the threat of death—literally.  It seems they have now reached the end of their hope and are finally saying goodbye forever.

Once arriving in Jordan, they are entering a country saturated with refugees to overflowing.  In addition to the Iraqi’s mainly around the capital city of Amman, there are over one million refugees from Syria in the north.  No Iraqi’s are in camps here, they are all Syrian… and Palestinian. The Palestinian refugees that are in camps are still there, three generations later, from the displacement of what people here call the occupation their land by Israel.  (If you are traveling to Israel, you don’t tell people you are, you say you are going to Palestine, because here, the nation of Israel does not exist.)  Fortunately, recently there have been 85,000 work permits granted to Syrian refugees in efforts of integration and business regulation in the north by the Jordanian government.  Jordan is and has been a place of peace and consolation to the most dire of victims in this Middle Eastern chaos.

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Today we sat before an Iraqi refugee man nearly in tears saying, “I am responsible for my family, what am I to do?”  Yes, Joel and I work with Relief for these families, but money alone can not solve the problems these families have spread before them.  Even with clinic bills paid for, even with children in schooling we provide, even with a roof over their head, despair lingers.

They are not home, they have no family here, all their degrees and training in education in Iraq have become invalid requiring them to begin from square one wherever they go at any age (we know a man his first year into his practice as a doctor and one young woman who was due to graduate the week of fleeing), all the heavily regulated process towards marriage for anyone stops as grooms no longer have anything to offer a bride, and wherever a family may eventually end up they don’t know the language, culture or way of life, which are all very different.   Any money these families had in banks, the savings they had, the buildings, businesses, the cars, the land, farms, the places of all of their lifelong memories—gone.   This is the unseen effect of war, wherever it happens, whenever it happens.  Life stops. Unfortunately, the countries choosing war as a solution are often less familiar with the long-term effects on their own soil.

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After two years, the increase of stress and anxiety compounded by the lack of outlet for doing anything, going anywhere, any day of the week except waiting has caused depression to set in for some.  Families try to sleep through the day as much as possible for there is nothing, and no one for them to wake up for.  Don’t get me wrong, we are doing good things here; providing relief in the very middle of this crisis.  Patients are being seen for free, medical procedures are being helped with, languages are being learned, children are going to school, food is being distributed, and rent assistance is being given—all of those things are wonderful, critical, and important, but even with this they cannot stay, and the question in the back of everyone’s mind is, “Where can we call home?”