“What is the estimated budget for a family to go on such a trip?”
This was one of the questions asked at the recent Interserve prayer meeting where a family with 2 young kids shared about their 7-week trip to serve the needs of the refugees residing on the islands of Greece. Besides giving the breakdown of their family budgeted expenses, the prayer leader invited us to ask a better question. What then would be a better question to ask?
As a practical Singaporean and a young father of an 8-month-old girl, some questions I have frequently asked are: How much does it cost? Is it expensive? Is there something cheaper? These questions may be typical of a young adult navigating through family life. But this supposedly prudent stewardship of resources has also crept into our relationship with God. Firstly, we forget that the Lord of the universe is able to provide for all our needs, and secondly that all we possess is not ours to own. It is the Lord who owns everything, and what we have in our lives is on loan from the Lord to be used for the Lord’s kingdom. As such, the missionary added, to assume that we are stewarding our time, talent and resources for the Lord by attending church services and Bible studies yet not arising to meet the needs of the needy is to become the Priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Hence, the better questions to ask are: Who is the Lord putting in our lives? Who do I need to care for? Who is my neighbour?
The missionary shared that many teenage refugees are struggling to enter and stay in the Greek education program and so they remain in ‘limbo’ with unrealistic hopes of being resettled elsewhere. Many refugees are also struggling to fend for themselves and provide for their livelihood when they no longer receive aid from UNHCR. Due to their dire state, many refugees are turning to drugs as a form of escape.
Are these refugees my neighbours?
In 2017, I felt called by God to serve the Syrian refugees located in Bekka Valley, Lebanon. I had the opportunity to work with the NGO, House of Love, which was serving over a thousand refugees located in the region. During my time there, I witnessed four families committing their lives to Christ. Each time, it felt like a miracle unfolding before my eyes as they prayed for Christ to enter into their lives despite risking persecution and ostracism from their community. Just a decade ago, Syrians were classified as one of the hardest groups to reach. However, now due to their displacement, God has softened their hearts. As Matthew 9:37 describes, the harvest is indeed plentiful. Though my time in Lebanon had ended, I returned with a heavy burden, knowing that my call to the lost and to these refugees has not ended.
In this stage of life as a young father, although my call to the lost has taken on a different form as I serve in the missions office of a local church, I am reminded once again…if we recognize that God is our provider and the true owner of all that we own, then can we ask the better question: Who is my neighbour?
Daniel Liu is a Missions staff at Bartley Chrisitian Church and a proud father of a beloved baby.