I’m a Chicago Cubs fan. Last week was a good week. I saw that over five million people attended the Cubs World Series victory parade. Someone told me it was the 7th largest gathering of people in world history. I have no idea if that’s true, but that IS a lot of people celebrating the completion of a mission.
In the Kingdom of Christ, it’s generally the complete opposite in regards to a mission. Mission is like a mustard seed…small and seemingly insignificant.
Yesterday, as our group entered a squat and invited into the home (abandoned hotel room) of a refugee family I was caught up and appreciative of the smallness of Christian mission. As we entered, a few of the family members were still sleeping. They promptly woke up, cleared their beds off (a mat on the floor) so that we could sit down. And then…we had tea. Over the next 30 minutes, we all discussed where we were from, shared pictures of family, and hopes of the future.
For the safety of the refugees, I can’t take pictures or share names. The two families sharing the room were from Aleppo and Damascus and had arrived in Greece by boat. Some of them had husbands who had made it into Germany and were hoping to be reunited with them through resettlement. Resettlement is a long, unpredictable process for Syrian refugees. All of them still had relatives in Syria. While we were sitting with them, a relative texted them from Aleppo with a picture of food. It was a celebratory text because a day with food is rare in Aleppo.
After tea, hugs and handshakes were exchanged and goodbye’s were said. I thought about this family throughout the day because I felt the presence of God in that small, seemingly insignificant gathering. No major accomplishments were made: we did not build anything, paint anything, cook anything, or even serve. We had tea with some new friends.
I concluded two reasons these Syrian families enjoyed our tea together:
1. There were Americans who wanted to know them, hear their story, and express genuine love and concern for their situation. For people who have been marginalized, attacked, and treated as animals, the humanness of our gathering was probably a breath of fresh air. When we treat others as God’s beautiful and wonderful created beings, pieces of their identity begin to return.
2. They hosted and served us tea. It seemed to fill them with a small glimpse of human normalcy. The fact that they could once again host and serve other people. At least for 30 minutes, dignity was felt again for these families. Allowing them to serve us gave them incredible joy.
My hope is that these mustard seeds that were planted would be watered by others who come along. I hope our Syrian friends encounter a host of Europeans, Westerners, and others who show them compassion, love, and advocacy.
More people need to get involved. What we are doing here isn’t sexy, glamorous, or in many cases even measurable…but we know it’s powerful.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.” – Jesus Christ (Matthew 13: 31-32)
This post is used by permission by Aaron Thomas, pastor of Restore Church in Silver Spring, MD.