Monday, September 21, 2015

The Syrian Refugee Crisis

This weekend we went to the mountains for a little while. We spent an hour or two climbing up a trail and enjoying the view. At the end of the short hike my kids were thirsty, hot, hungry and dirty. We had plenty of water with us and snacks in the car and that night we tucked our boys safely into bed, after they bathed and put on fresh jammies. But after we got home I saw this post from Samaritan's Purse about all the refugees traveling to escape the violence that has over taken their cities (ISIS).
I thought, if my kiddos were tired, hot and dirty after just a couple hours of walking, what must these kids feel like? Many have been traveling for weeks, and most have lost everything in the journey. There's no clean jammies and warm bed waiting at the end of the day. In fact, they often don't even know what country they will be in at the end of the day.

World Vision has put together the map above that really helps us understand the enormity of this journey.  It shows how a family coming from Aleppo, Syria to the border of Serbia will have to travel over 1,400 miles (Check out their post about this: here.) Many of these miles are being trekked on foot. World Vision also has a great post about what is happening, who is affected and how World Vision is responding with aid. You can click here to read that and to help through World Vision.

"Nearly 12 million Syrians have been forced from their homes by the fighting — half are children."
                                                                                                                         -- World Vision

Samaritan's Purse has been posting updates from their workers on the ground in Greece, and other check points. They have been helping with medical care (with some of their staff doctors checking on refugees at certain check points), and distributing backpacks with much needed health and hygiene items as well as snacks and comfort items for kids. Their help is tangible. If you are watching news clips of thousands of people walking and walking; everything they own in a plastic grocery bag--and wondering what you can do, here is something you can do. Watch the video to get a sense of what's happening, what these families are going through, what they've lost and how desperately they need hope, and see how Samaritan's Purse is helping them. You can donate directly to Samaritan's Purse's European Refugee Relief by clicking here (and scrolling to the bottom).

 "We've not come here for enjoyment. All of us are hopeless people." 
We can't look away from what families just like ours are going through on the other side of the world.   I don't know what is going to happen to these families, but I know this:
They need help today.
They need hope to make it to tomorrow; to the next check point.
There are good organizations making a real impact in this ongoing crisis and we can partner with them.

I feel like there's so little I can do to help, but I think too often we claim our ability to only make a small impact as an excuse to do nothing. We can not do nothing.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
                                                                                                - Mother Teresa

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review: Woodlawn

Football season is officially underway. With football on TV, fall in the air, and a movie based on the book on the horizon, now is the perfect time to read the inspiring true story of Woodlawn, by Todd Gerelds. 

Woodlawn is set in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1970's. Coach Tandy Gerelds is struggling to integrate a team of high school football players in an era and a community that wants anything but to work together. He tries everything to get his guys to break down barriers and truly be a team, but to no avail. Finally, a bootlegger-turned-preacher named Wales Goebel shows up and shows them that the way to be united is not to put on the same jersey, but the same heart. As the entire team experiences a change of heart and a new-found faith, they finally are able to work together and let every player shine, especially their African-American superstar: Tony Nathan. At a school where black and white students couldn't even walk the halls together (due to violence), this is an amazing feat. I love the story of this faith-born brotherhood, but I also love the personal stories of the men who brought it about: the coach, the team chaplin and a local evangelist. 

I am looking forward to seeing the movie, but I have a feeling it will not adequately explain the amazing back stories of Wales Goebel and Hank Erwin. These men had such interesting lives and give God all the credit for the difficulties they overcame. I'm sure they never thought they would be changing the course of a football team, but their authenticity affected those young football players deeply and allowed them to hear the message of Jesus Christ's love that they both experienced and shared with the team.    

Woodlawn the movie (with Sean Astin & Jon Voight) comes out October 15, 2015, but the book comes out this week! That give you a month to get the whole true story which, trust me, you have to hear! Order the book here, or check your local book store. 

** I received a free copy of Woodlawn from Howard Books for my honest review. All opinions are my own, of course  : ) **

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