The migration of refugees flooding into Europe is historic in magnitude, newscasts tell us that millions are fleeing from ISIS, but most of us do not fully understand what caused it all. We watch TV and see the suffering, but the victims are faceless strangers from countries we are not familiar with. While the stories cause pangs of sympathy—most of us move on with our own busy lives and problems.
I recently traveled to Germany, Hungary and the border of Croatia to see refugees face to face and to hear their stories first hand. The experience made it all very personal for me—and, weeks later, still keeps me up at night.
Christian refugees from Syria told chilling stories about crossing nine borders, paying large sums to strangers, a harrowing 17-hour ride in a rubber boat and incidents of sexual attacks. One of the young men, a 27-year-old computer science graduate, told me how his best friend was killed by a dropped bomb minutes after completing his last final exam after five years at university. Many told about how their families had pooled their resources and picked the strongest member, the one most likely to survive the journey, to blaze the trail to safe ground.
I visited with people from many countries, each with a unique nightmarish story, but all with the same recurring theme: They did not want to leave home—but the horror of ISIS’s inhumanity drove them to flee.
We are so blessed to live in a land where we sleep safely in our own beds and are free to work and worship as we please. As we gather around our Christmas trees this year, let’s remember the words of Jesus and reach out to help the refugees: “Happy are the kind and merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.”