How This Syrian Boy Exposed My Apathy

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed yesterday when I first saw the image and video footage of Omran. It stopped me, literally froze my thumb on top of my shiny iPhone screen. It was shocking. Disturbing. Unsettling. Sickening.

I couldn’t believe what I was watching. A completely innocent child having to wipe blood away from his face in the back of an ambulance, while his parents are pulled from the rubble of their home.

I’ll be honest. I struggled with whether or not to actually use the image of Omran in this post. I was afraid it was too “shocking” or “jarring.”

And, you know what? It probably is too shocking. If it wasn’t shocking then I would be afraid that we had lost all of our humanity. But just because it’s shocking doesn’t mean it should be hidden. When you look at it, it makes you feel uncomfortable. It makes you think about how unfair it is that you get to sit quietly and safely with your electronic device and read reports about 5-year-old children who don’t even know what “safe” feels like.

As a father, as a human, as someone with a pulse… it tears my heart to know that another human has to live with the fear of being collateral damage in someone else’s war.

The sad thing is, I’ve scrolled through countless images of the Syrian refugee crisis, I’ve listened to it be debated by presidential hopefuls, and I’ve even thought about giving money towards those affected – but that’s been it. Sure, I’ve posted about it on social media. I’ve thrown a prayer that way a time or two. But I’ve not been disturbed enough to do anything.

I haven’t used my voice. I haven’t used my finances. I haven’t even used this blog.

There is no doubt that there are barriers that separate their world from ours. We have a difference in religion, ethnicity, and politics – but they are still human. They still carry the image of God. They still need our help. And that should be enough. But for some reason, it doesn’t seem to be.

I’m not so naive to think that it’s an easy problem to solve. A blog post isn’t going to solve the crisis in the middle east. The reason I feel like it’s worth writing about is because I’m sure there are people like me who have also allowed ethnic, religious, and political differences dictate their compassion level.

It’s a problem I’m trying to face and one that I think we all have to face. As the Church, if we are the hope of the world, then we have to take that seriously. This means opening up our hearts to a region where terrorism and anti-west sentiment is at an all-time high.

The same reasons that create a wall for our compassion are the same reasons that create a wall for change. But as followers of Christ, we aren’t called to build walls, we are called to build bridges – AND then cross them. Jesus didn’t allow geographic location, ethnicity, gender, religion or politics get in the way of reaching us. He pursued us to His death.

I’m not saying that we are all called to be Syrian missionaries because we’re not – but there are ways that we can help. And I think it starts by realizing that boundaries are never excuses to ignore hurting people. Because of the hope we carry and the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within us, we are called to walk towards pain – not away from it.

Use your voice. Use your prayers. Use your finances. Children like Omran need them.


3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • My heart was torn n wanted to fly to that boy and cradle him. I feel like I am fettered in chains. I feel like my prayers and donations are not enough. I want my help to go directly to him…….but how? We’re his parents found. I am careful with immigration laws but I want the families with children over able bodied immigrants..
    Oh Lord have mercy on the children., I pray that You who created this boy, breathe into him a new breath of life . I pray this in the mighty name of Jesus!!!

  • Hi Tyler – I’m encouraged that you bring up about ethnicity. Too many Christians consciously or unconsciously use ethnicity (or geography) as a dividing line, as if we don’t have to care about “those people”. In Matthew 15:21-28 we have the exchange between Jesus (with his disciples) and the Canaanite woman.

    Under the laws of the time, not only did Jews not affiliate with Canaanites, but men did not associate with woman. In his initial words, Jesus made it clear that he was respecting the traditions by turning away from the woman. But ultimately he relented and healed her daughter.

    I’ve long been of the impression that his demonstration was aimed squarely at the disciples. They were rooted in Jewish traditions and wanted her to leave. Though he initially honored those traditions, he ultimately granted her request, citing her FAITH as the critical reason.

    Jesus was always demonstrating behavior for his disciples and for us. This is the example the we are to follow. It doesn’t matter what the political, religious, racial or even social conventions hold, we’re to behave in a way that’s different.

  • The world is in the power of ‘the enemy’. For every such shocking photo, there are literally thousands of other such children who die anonymously. The Western governments seem to be either complicit in this or turn a blind eye to it.

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