Elliott came to his mom with paper stars containing two symbols.
“What are these?” she asked.
“They say R S. They are prayer cards for Syrian refugees. I want to hand them out so people can pray for the refugees and then when they meet one, they can say, ‘Hey, come stay at my house.'”
When Elliott’s mom told me this story over the weekend, it affected me deeply. Yes, Elliott’s solution to the refugee crisis is simplistic.
Or is it simply that as adults we choose to complicate matters? Complicate them because we don’t want to be obedient to God’s call.
Jesus basically said what Elliott advised:
“I was a stranger and you took me in (Matthew 25:35)”
No background checks. No wondering about the inconvenience. No protecting my space or my sanctuary or my stuff or my alone time. Simply welcoming a stranger.
And when the people asked Jesus,
“When did we see You a stranger, and take You in?”
“To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
Elliott’s simplistic solution seems very much like the one Jesus says proves we are loving him.
When I asked Elliott’s mom if I could have pictures of the prayer card stars so I could blog about them, Elliott asked for my address so he could send me some actual stars.
I told him I would offer the stars on my blog. This was his message in return:
“Give directions and tell them that if they take a star, they either need to pray for a refugee, or help them live with them, or go help get them off of a boat safely.”
We can all pray. But maybe we can or even should be doing more.
Jesus’s brother James said this:
“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. (James 2:15–17)”
Maybe God wants the same things from us that Elliott does—to do justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).
I can pray for the Syrian refugees using one of Elliott’s stars as a reminder.
I can’t say (yet) that I am going to invite refugees to live with me.
But maybe I can help them get off a boat safely by supporting organizations who are aiding the refugees, like Church World Service, Migrant Offshore Aid Station (these folks literally do try to help refugees get off the boat safely), CARE, or American Refugee Committee.
And as I keep praying, maybe God will open not only my heart but my home as well.
Carolyn Arends has a song that says, “I am willing to be willing, I am ready to be moved.” That is my prayer as well.
If you would like one of Elliott’s stars leave a comment and I’ll contact you for information on sending it. Just remember his directions.
This may shake up our lovely comfortable lives . . .
and it will be because a little child chose to lead us straight to the heart of God.