We bumped along the dirt road as I listened to the voices of my coworkers rise and fall with excitement. We had been waiting for this day. In just a few weeks, our new base had changed from a pile of dirt to an open space with three small trailers, two port-a-potties, and a gravel pathway. This day was special because it was the first day that we would sit face to face with community members and begin conversations about the future of this small plot of land.
I gazed out of the truck window as we passed by row after row of white tents, each holding families that had to flee from war. Some have seen people killed as they ran from their villages to escape the Islamic State group; others have seen their sisters, wives, or children held captive as slaves. Each life has been changed by violence, and the white tents serve as an ever-present reminder that this is not home and that our world is still broken.
Life is different for people in the camp. Many of them had quiet, independent lives before fleeing their homes. Now all of their decisions are made by outside organizations. Even the quality of education that their children receive is determined by spots available in the nearest school, teachers hired, and, ultimately, funding available. They are at the mercy of others.
For this reason, Samaritan’s Purse decided to designate this plot of land as a safe space that is defined by the community. In order to do this, staff members would need to sit, listen, and learn from the people living everyday life in the tents. What are their talents and gifts? What makes them happy and sad? What do they talk about most?
In taking the time to hold community discussions, Samaritan’s Purse can walk alongside the people displaced by war and better discern how to use the resources and talents that God has gifted the organization with.
Sitting in the car, I felt oddly privileged to be in Northern Iraq as an intern. Somehow God had allowed me to participate in the work of these community discussions and to see tangible expressions of God’s love among a hurting people group.
The reality is that all believers have this odd privilege to participate in the work of Christ. God has called His people to shine like a light in the darkness. While the response may look different for each individual, the call is always the same. We are to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
During this time of injustice, violence, and political turmoil across the globe, the question must be asked: How is God inviting you and your community to participate in His work in your midst and across the globe? It doesn’t matter where you are—there is always an invitation to participate in God’s work.
Each and every day the world is filled with joy and misery, and each and every day God is filling hearts with love and peace to share in their proper place and time. For Samaritan’s Purse in Northern Iraq, loving others looks like hosting community discussions and building programs that seek to love and heal the people hurt by war and terror.
What does loving others look like for you today?