The world is watching one of the most complex refugee situations unfold as nearly 10 million people have been displaced in Syria. The Syrian civil war has been going on since the "2011 Arab Spring" when a rebel army tried to overthrow Bashar Al Assad genocidal regime.
Hopelessness set in as the U.S. remained unengaged even after Assad gassed thousands of innocent Syrians. The tangled web of politics and the vacuum of the leadership of the U.S. gave rise to a new extremist group we now know as ISIS.
Here is a quick breakdown on where 3.8 Million Syrian refugees have fled into neighboring countries. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have not taken any in.
At CRI, the ministry I lead, we originally deployed in 2013 to assist Syrian refugees that fled to Kurdistan of Iraq. We can only say God knew what was coming as ISIS trampled through the region displacing another 3.3 million Iraqis with 1.3 million of them seeking assistance in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. CRI to this day remains at the center of this crisis with teams in Kurdistan and Greece.
A Predicted Crisis
George Bush predicted we would see the rise of another radical group if the U.S. pulled out of Iraq too soon. Sadly, this is exactly what happened as we essentially armed them as ISIS stole US weapons taken from the Iraqi National Guard.
The issue could have been curbed by simply arming our allies the Kurds who are the only trusted fighting force that has been resisting ISIS since the beginning. Instead, the U.S. partnered with Syrian Rebels, Shia based Iran and Baghdad instead. The plot has thickened now with Russia engaging, and the situation seems to get more complicated by the day.
The resources and opportunities in the neighboring countries of Syria and Iraq have been exasperated and now refugees hopeless of U.S. intervention have looked beyond the Middle East for help. The issue is now boiling over with a massive influx into Greece, Germany and beyond.
Political and Ideological Quagmire
What has been termed the European Refugee Crisis is truly an Islamic one in nature. The true underlying issue is that there is very little hope found in Islam as it is a theocratic and political religion void of true compassion and love. This can be verified by the Quran and looking at history itself.
There are no simple answers to any of this as the issue is deeply complex. As I have been saying for years now, the issue of radical Islam is not going away. It cannot. ISIS and other extremist who follow the Quran literally are bent on bringing death and destruction to the US and Israel. ISIS stated goals are to bring the Church to a great end-time battle.
Needless to say, it is a political and an ideological quagmire. There are many points that could be argued as to whose fault this is and what the solutions are. I pray that our government makes good decisions and protects our borders. From a political standpoint I believe the people and problems should be settled over there. I would go as far to say that the fighting age men flooding Europe right now should be sent back to defend their own country before we send our troops. However at the end of the day my responsibility as a follower of Jesus is to try and understand what He is doing in the midst of all of this.
Go and Make Disciples
Jesus' last command to His followers that we would go and make disciples in all nations. We also understand that the great and final harvest will be in the midst of great and terrible shakings all over the earth. I believe that God's heart is burning for Muslims and these Islamic nations. I believe if the church withdraws like the U.S. has then we will create an even greater spiritual vacuum and we will see the further radicalization of nations.
Generations of ministries and missionaries have tried to bring the gospel and God's love to unreached people groups in Syria and Iraq, and now suddenly they are dispersed and reachable in many different nations. This is a time of unprecedented harvest and as the church we must engage in any way we can.
Did you know there are more refugees worldwide than any other time in history right now? As trouble increases on the earth we know there is a time coming where the primary demographic of the harvest field will be refugees.
Just before the ISIS Crisis broke out I had a dream where the Lord asked me if I was willing to go to the places he was shaking with the spirit of adoption....and if I was I would see a great harvest of souls.
Very similarly another team member of ours had a dream where she was in the midst of the conflict in Syria and Iraq and that just her presence alone caused the worst of the worst terrorist's hearts to soften because westerners were there willing to serve in the midst of such craziness. Just a short time later the ISIS crisis broke out, and she went and served with amazing fruit to show for it.
I also understand that not everyone is specifically called to serve in the Middle East. However, I was taken back by so many who claim they are building "places of refuge" but quickly took a hardline stance with the notion of refugees coming to the states.
I would say we need to at least take inventory for a moment and ask who are we really building refuge places for? Are these "refuge places" really for the harvest or are they just a means to preserve our Western lifestyles and security for ourselves? Again I am all for defending our borders, proper immigration and defending our families but I am warning you that God may have a different plan.
After all wouldn't that be profound that our refuge places actually took in refugees? God's plans always look different than ours and I believe we need to seek His perspective in all of this. One thing is clear that in the life of the apostles that they were not preoccupied with their personal safety but rather the advance of the gospel in all circumstances.
Philippians 1: 12-14 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Will you see challenges or opportunity in the days ahead?
After nearly two years of bringing relief and the gospel to countless refugees in this conflict I would say this, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few!
What We Are Doing Now
Currently a CRI team is on the ground, ministering the love of God and reaching out to refugees seeking safe shelter on the Northern end of the island of Lesbos, Greece. We're working with Euro Relief and Thirst No More in this deployment to help care for the refugees. Our partnership is making the Gospel accessible to thousands who may have not ever heard it before both in word and in deed. We are also actively looking for CRI Responders or CRI Chaplains to deploy.
Additionally, our team is making plans to assist in the rebuilding of Sinjar the home of the Yazidi people who were the most affected by the ISIS Crisis. Currently, we are forming long-term teams, and we are looking for individuals who want to make a one or two-year commitment to the rebuilding of these people and their city.
Sean Malone is the Director & Founder of CRI