Posted by: Philip Rushton | February 23, 2016

Why Small Acts Of Solidarity Matter: An invitation to listen to our Syrian neighbors.

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:25-27

John and Mary must have felt helpless as they stood there watching Jesus hang on the cross.   There was nothing they could do.  Jesus, the one they hoped would be the messiah, had been unjustly accused and was now being brutally tortured in front of their eyes.

We also to bear witness to deep problems and injustices in our world.  Last week I came across an article in a recent issue of Time magazine about the Syrian refugee crisis and I could barely look at the pictures.  The situation seems so irredeemable and complicated.

The problems we read about in the news or encounter in our community can have a paralyzing effect on us.  Yesterday I had two different conversations with friends who were overwhelmed by the problem of poverty in our community.  When we take the wide angle view of the problems in our community and our world we can feel helpless.

What strikes me is how Jesus speaks into this situation.  In the midst of the chaos of the cross, and in the face of deep injustice and torture, Jesus says to John, “here is your mother,” and to Mary, “here is your son.” In a recent sermon on this text, Pastor John suggested that Jesus is calling us to respond to the deep problems of our world with small acts of love.  Jesus invites us to replace the wide angle lens with a telephoto lens.  Instead of being paralyzed by the big picture, Jesus invites us to focus in on the small ways we can make the world a better place.  John and Mary cannot put an end to the injustice and the torture of the cross but they can choose to love and support each other.

As we journey with Jesus to the cross this lenten season, I want to invite you to be aware of the small ways you can promote love and shalom in the midst of a broken and fearful world.  Not all of us are positioned to make a major impact on large world problems, but we can do something.

I also want to invite you to make a small difference in Syrian refugee crisis. On the evening of Sunday March 13th we will be hosting a local Syrian couple Hazar Jaber and her husband Hani.   Hani and Hazar run Happy Kids Dentistry in Longview.  Out of a deep love and concern for their native country, they have been using their gifts to advocate for and serve the refugees of the Syrian civil war.  They have led medical missions to the refugee camps in Jordan and continue to devote time raising awareness and funds for this ongoing crisis.

The devastating headlines coming out of Syria can have a paralyzing effect.  The civil war is complex and the suffering of those caught in the crossfire is extreme.   We know the need is great, but it is difficult to know how we can help.  Perhaps, though, one of the ways we can make a difference is by simply taking the time to listen to Hazar and Hani’s story.

This week Hazar wrote me the following note:

I just came back from SAMs ( Syrian American medical society) meeting with mixed emotions.  On one hand seeing the suffering of people and children is nerve racking, on the other hand seeing people from all over the world and faiths trying to help them is uplifting. I am on my way back as we speak, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to come and talk to your group  . . . My goal is to educate and show people ways to get involved. So I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity.


Hosting an evening to raise awareness for the crisis doesn’t seem like a big thing; however, I was reminded that this small act of solidarity does mean something to Hazar.  In the midst of this huge crisis the simple act of caring enough to listen to our Syrian neighbors is important.

We are going to meet in the chapel on March 13th at 6:30pm.  Hazar is going to bring some Syrian desserts and coffee, I’ll offer a short meditation on Jesus’ heart for refugees, and then Hazar will talk with us about the Syrian refugee situation and how we might be able to help in small ways.  Our own Mike Bartlett might take some time to share about his participation in a recent medical mission trip to the refugee camps in Jordan. I hope you can join us!






  1. the right thing to do at the right time

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