It has been a hard year so far, for a lot of us. When I read about what’s happening in the news so close to home, it breaks my heart. And I feel powerless to change anything. I don’t know of anything I can say that hasn’t been said, nothing that I can add to all the noise. I read again last night in Psalm 46 that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. And I ask myself as one who claims to follow God, as one ordained to Christian ministry, what can I do to help those in trouble, those in need of refuge? I’m not a politician with the power to make policy decisions. I’m not a billionaire with the resources to provide for the physical needs of the multitudes of refugees fleeing danger. I’m not a celebrity with a worldwide platform for spreading the word. And if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re not either. Maybe you feel small and insignificant lately, like I do.
I don’t have all the answers for you. I can only tell you not to neglect the small things. I have to believe the small things make a difference. If you are in a position of relative privilege, which I am as a white Christian born in the U.S., get to know people in your community who feel more threatened by the things that are happening. I’m thankful for the new friends I’ve made in the past few months as I visited a local mosque and talked with the women there about ways we could make a positive impact on our small corner of the world. One of those women is a doctor who runs a free clinic in our town, the only one of its kind nearby, that provides medical care and prescription medications of all kinds to people who otherwise would not have access to them. A few of the Muslim women I met joined forces with women of other faiths in the community to form a crochet and knitting group. We make things to donate to local charities, like the Shifa Clinic, and we build relationships with one another. That may seem like a small thing, but if more people actually got to know those who are different from them, fear and prejudice would lose their power.
Many of us may be able to find ways to use our particular skills to help those in need right now. Lawyers showed up at airports over the weekend offering their services to people who were detained without cause. I’ve been asked for help translating documents written in French when a quick turnaround was needed. Find ways to use your talents where you are. Making phone calls and/or sending postcards to local, state, and national leaders about the things that concern us is another small thing we can all do. I’ll admit that right now it feels frustratingly useless, as the ones who are supposed to represent us seem to be ignoring us and voting their own interests. But persistence is often rewarded in these fights. So I won’t give up. And I won’t underestimate the power of prayer. I ask God daily to soften the hearts of our leaders, to pierce them with empathy and let their love for their fellow human beings and the ideals of their nation be stronger than their fear. Even if I don’t have direct access to them, the Spirit does. I will allow her to speak through my words and to move me to action, but I will also trust her to do what I can’t. As scary as it is to watch the news these days, I will continue to believe that love is stronger than fear, and that it is worth the risk.