We are all refugees

Neighbors NightWhile a few radical (and misguided) Christians were ranting about some red cups, and most of us were like “huh?” terrorists were attacking. Every minute of every day someone is committing unprovoked attack on others.

A lot of immediate reactions were posted on social media, spoken about on political platforms, or blogged about in newspaper columns and personal sites. And unfortunately, a lot of the immediate reactions have been at the expense of refugees.

Is it possible for terrorists to exploit a refugee status to enter a country for their own evil agenda? Of course. They’re terrorists, they’re going to take advantage of every system and every kindness to inflict harm on those not conforming to their ways. What’s unfair is blaming those seeking refuge from these terrorists.

There are always going to be those who use the system to their own advantage. Always. And yes, there are some systems that could be better with a little tweaking. But should we do away with a whole system that’s providing solace to innocents because terrorists may be exploiting it?

As children of God, we don’t have the privilege to decide who does and doesn’t deserve help. If this were true, and I were the prophet encountering Saul of Tarsus after he was blinded, I would have declined helping him. God would have used someone else (because He’s God), but what if he hadn’t? A huge chunk of the New Testament (and Paul’s ministry) would be missing because I took it upon myself to decide Saul didn’t deserve help. Who am I to say no to a person God created in His image?

Should we use discernment and recognize when we’re being taken advantage of? Of course. That’s where setting healthy boundaries comes into play. But we have the privilege of being the hands and feet of Jesus. We’re here to spread love and help people understand God’s love for them. And, quite frankly, the current cry that only Christian refugees be helped isn’t Christian at all because then we are playing God and deciding who gets accepted into His family.

While in Budapest, I had the opportunity of meeting a family that served the refugees coming into Europe through Hungary. While talking, the topic of “what if” came up because David, the husband and father, said they encountered that question often. “What if you are helping a terrorist?” His answer was basically: “What if, in the simple act of handing a banana to a person in need, I’ve changed his entire perspective of the world, and they choose a different path?”

We’re all refugees. Adam and Eve’s sin banned us from the original world and plan God had, propelling us into a world where we constantly face the struggle between Good and evil. The Good News is that evil has already lost this war. The bad news is that we still have to decide how we respond to evil in our midst. Do we increase our love, kindness and compassion, heaping coals on evil, glorifying the Kingdom, or do we ourselves fall victim to our refugee status and believe Satan’s lies, closing ourselves off to people because they “might be” terrorists?

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. Matthew 25:35-36

In December, my community is hosting an evening of dinner and music to raise funds to support a refugee family’s move to the United States. Visit the website for more information or to donate to Neighbors Night: Refugee Fundraiser.

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Unplugging to Recharge

“You have permission to say no to something and give yourself a break.” –My Therapist.

As she said this I physically felt my shoulders relax and air enter my lungs. It felt like the first real breath I’ve taken since before
my crazy whirlwind mission trip in Budapest. Which is so, so, so, so silly. Ridiculous, actually.

Because I’m rest’s biggest advocate. I have an unhealthy attachment to rest. I get mad at people who don’t give themselves breaks.

But for some reason I’ve gotten into a rhythm where I get the bare minimum to keep me running for the next day, and the cycle perpetuates itself even though I can feel myself draining. I can feel my joy, enthusiasm for life, and closeness to God draining.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be, guys. As in, this isn’t Biblical, and not at all what God wants for us. Does he want us to work hard? Damn right. But he doesn’t want us to kill ourselves, to drain ourselves to the point of becoming robotic. He wants us to have close, personal relationships with each other and with Him. We can’t do that if we’re pushing ourselves to do rather than to be.

If we’re made in God’s likeness, then it goes without saying that we should be trying to be like God. And guess what? God rested!

This weekend was my Sabbath. I turned off my computer, silenced my phone, and only spoke to the person behind the counter when I picked up my pizza. I napped, Netflix binged, and, most importantly, spent some time with God, whom I’ve been neglecting.

And despite the fact that I still got a migraine at the tail-end, I feel better. I feel rejuvenated. I feel like I can now work out of a place of rest, rather than pushing myself to extend past exhaustion. I can return to my relationships more wholeheartedly.

Most importantly, I feel realigned with my God.

When was the last time you really rested?

Budapest 2015: The Three-Fer Trip

It seems that 2015 has been the lead-up year. I’ve been raising support, talking to people and writing about my mission trip to Budapest. Well, I’m back from Budapest. And I’m exhausted. But in a good way.

In July, we learned that the official Bringing in the Hungarian Harvest (BHHP) week-long program was canceled. The CRU missionaries on-the-ground in Budapest had had a rough year and needed a break to recharge. Because we’d already been really busy fundraising and still felt God was pulling us to Budapest, we refocused our attention on serving and ministering to the missionaries. Originally, BHHP is a week-long blitz in public and private school English classes to build relationships with students and encourage them to connect with CRU (Fèk) for life-application resources. We also brought large, heavy suitcases full of blankets, underwear and socks (among other supplies) for the Syrian refugees, and spent an evening learning more about the Europe refugee crisis with a family that is actively involved in helping the refugees.

Long story short, we ended up being able to go to English classes AND minister to the missionaries AND serve the refugees. Which made for a crazy hectic week for us. But the missionaries were so thrilled and grateful to have us cooking for them and spending time in fellowship, and the students were incredibly responsive to having us in their classes.

And now, I’m in recovery. While I technically took two weeks of vacation from work, and we took a mini-vacation to Croatia before coming home, this was hard, draining work. But so, so worth it.

As I’m processing, I’ll share more of what we did and my own revelations I’m sure I’ll be working through for the rest of my life, but I wanted to share some photos and ask for continued prayers for the Youth at the Threshold of Life program (which is what Fèk stands for in Hungarian) and the missionaries dedicating their lives to being the hands and feet of Jesus in Budapest and Europe, along with the refugees and those putting their lives on hold to provide comfort, safety and medical care to them.

Here's me attempting to
Here’s me attempting to “teach” by drawing a map of the U.S. to show where I’m from. I will not be sharing a photo of my sad map.
classroom small group
After introducing ourselves and playing a game to encourage interaction, we broke into small groups and listened to a lesson. This year’s lesson was about Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ). Then we would discuss with our groups. Sometimes they wanted to talk about EQ, sometimes they didn’t. Regardless of what we talked about, this gave us some time to build rapport with the students and invite them to the FEK outreach event on Friday night.
FEK Friday Outreach event for high school students. The theme was The Maze Runner. We showed clips of the movie, but it was in Hungarian. So now I'll have to watch it in English!
FEK Friday Outreach event for high school students. The theme was The Maze Runner. We showed clips of the movie, but it was in Hungarian. So now I’ll have to watch it in English!
At the outreach event, the students completed an obstacle maze. At my station they had to work as a team to build something creative using dominoes.
At the outreach event, the students completed an obstacle maze. At my station they had to work as a team to build something creative using dominoes.
This team was awesome! They worked together to build a Domino Unicorn.
This team was awesome! They worked together to build a Domino Unicorn.
Here's us! We dubbed ourselves the
Here’s us! We dubbed ourselves the “rebels” because we decided to still come to Budapest and serve.