Saturday, December 12, 2015

Where is your Home?

Where is your home?  For many of us living and working overseas this is a tough question to answer!  During this upcoming Christmas season many of us are heading "home" to see family and enjoy the festivities of our Saviors birth.  For many fleeing war, persecution, their homes destroyed, they don't know where home will be.  I remember when we first arrived in Liberia and listening to our staff talk about loosing their homes during the war and having to live in refugee and IDP camps for years.  Having no place to call our own, no place to hang our clothes, lay our head, no place to invite people for dinner- for many in the world today this is their reality.

When we were evacuated from our home here in Liberia due to Ebola-I realized that we had no place to go.  Yes, we had family we could stay with , we could stay in a hotel for a bit-but we had no home to go to.  Along with this harsh reality, we were told due to weight restrictions on the DC-3 we could only take 20lbs of luggage with us. Twenty pounds...ten years of our life in this little house and we could take 20lbs not knowing when we could come back.  But please don't feel sorry for me-it was a good lesson and one I am glad I had to go through.

Our little home here in Liberia not much to look at...

But this is our view!

In the past few months our SP team have been responding to the European refugee crisis.  It's called a crisis because that is what it is, hundreds of thousands of people having to leave their home because of war and persecution.  That is a crisis.  I have had the opportunity to help our team in a transit camp on the Croatia -Serbia border and at a transit camp on the Greek island of Chios. All of these experiences both personally and in our work has really driven home to me that this place, earth, this world is not my home. 

Croatia transit camp-home for many refugees on the journey to a new home.

I am a refugee.  No, not in the UNHCR definition-but as a follower of Christ, this earth is not my home.  And boy am I glad!  In a world of so much suffering, much of which we see first hand, it is hard to keep you joy tank me. It's very easy to let satan discourage us, whispering and at times yelling, "See all of this suffering? You can't do anything, just when you think you are helping there are more deaths, sickness, violence, injustice, abuse...where is your God now?".  Man I would like to punch him in the nose!  But it's true, all of those things are in the world but they are not in our true Home. 

Shouda tranist camp on the Island of Chios.

Look at these encouraging words that Jesus gives us in John 14:1-3 about our true Home:

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms;if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (NIV)

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  I am not going to lie to you my heart is troubled. Seeing all those refugees, scared, no place to go, not being able to communicate, little kids...wet, cold.  This troubles my heart.  Hearing of a little girl who was raped and doctors not willing to take care of her. This troubles my heart. So many of our Liberian staff who have lost family members, what seems like everyday.  This troubles my heart. Watching the fear and hate in people as they treat each other not as they would want to be treated. This troubles my heart. The Ebola survivor who doesn't have a job or family and no home because no one wants them living near them.  This troubles my heart. And then Jesus speaks.

Believe in Father's house has many rooms...I am coming back...that you may be where I am. I can't wait!  In fact sometimes I wonder what He is waiting for, Lord please come back!  But that is not for me to worry about or even be angry about.  I must focus on Home, our Home with our Father, the way an athlete strives for the finish line. I also realize that the things of the earth are just that, things of this earth.  So don't get to tied to them!  I was, and it wasn't until I was told that I had to leave it all behind that I realized how tight I had been hanging on to our home, work and stuff. The truth is everything I have is God's-this is not my home.

In my Father's house is many rooms-what am I doing to help fill those rooms?  If we are all refugees here on this earth with only two final destinations-my focus should be on telling people about a home with no suffering, pain, tears, sickness or wars.  A home you never, ever have to leave...because you don't want to or need to!  This Christmas I pray that we remember that this world is not our home, there is something so better.  And that we want to tell people, everyone no matter where they are from- about a God who loves them, a Savoir who died for them, and forever Home with room for them.