Those are words spray painted on the rocks as I drove into the camp today, and from the little bit I saw the camp wasn’t prison, it was hell. Really, I have no right to say that. I did not stay long enough to know the depths. I’m privileged enough to get to walk in, take care of the business I need to and return to my air conditioned hotel room.
The mothers and newborn babies I met today are not as privileged. They will stay in the sweltering heat, sleeping on cots or the ground. Some only feet away from their rapists and traffickers. They will make the space designed to hold 200 women work for 400. They will endure the night, clinging to the hope that tomorrow they will get good news. Most will not.
This is just one place.
One of the best, and hardest, parts about my job is that I travel around to different places and hear people’s stories. I get to see and learn from some of the strongest people on earth.
Their hope inspires me, their resiliency unparalleled.
But tonight I’m angry. There is no need for the hellhole I was in today to exist. No reason a living being, marked with the fingerprint of God, should be living like that. It only exists because we are afraid. We have allowed fear to sneak into our hearts and control our lives.
I can maybe understand the fear of some non-believers, but those who say they believe in Christ, I cannot. With Christ we have perfect love, and perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). The western church has become gripped with fear and disdain for their fellow human. The way some Christians talk about “refugees” (whatever that really means) makes it seem like they are an entirely different species.
As I have walked through these last few weeks the Lord has brought me to Amos.
“You lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lamb and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end. “ – Amos 6:4-7
I cannot help to think of Christians in America when I read this. We our complacent. Instead of resting and enjoying the fruits of the Lord, we gorge ourselves until we are spiritually obese and unable to move. We seek worship highs and trendy churches, but do not grieve the ruin of our fellow man. We allow these hellholes to exists, because seeing such despair much less actually grieving it, would require work. Hard work.
Sometimes I wonder if we are too spiritually obese to even do the work. To realize that serving is not about yourself, or being changed, but about doing the grunt work. It’s not sexy or glamorous. It’s smelly and tiring and unrewarding.
And still, I hope.
Because God is just. He is full of mercy, grace, and love. He is not complacent. It’s something I have to remind myself of on days like today, when despair comes easier than hope and my home country is being repulsively self-indulgenent and cowardly.