We are a little uneasy with many people’s responses to the news that we’re moving out to live with asylum seekers…. but not for reasons you might think. Put simply we are desperate to make it clear that what we are doing should not be seen as too ‘special.’ Here is why.
A devastating reminder
Just this week I was starkly reminded why we are doing this. Doreen*, is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose eldest son was separated from her whilst fleeing the violence. Thought dead, he was later found but remains stuck in in a Ugandan refugee camp unable to be reunited with his distraught mother in Australia (I tried but failed to locate him during a recent trip to Uganda but that’s for another story). Doreen, sitting at our dining table, head down muttered, “Yes, I escaped the war in my country. I now have food and a house in Australia but my heart is still at war. I have no peace.” How could we not respond?
The examples below typify many of the responses we have received from friends and acquaintances over the past several weeks.
“I would love to do what you guys are doing but would never know how.”
“What you are doing is incredible but I’m glad it is you guys and not us.”
I find many people are genuinely supportive and excited by what we are doing and yet at the same time ‘talk down’ their own potential and ability to do similar despite their obvious heart to help. How much I want to grab hold of them (in a nice way!) and tell them that they can! Now I’m not suggesting everyone should do what we have done (move into a huge old convent and fill it with asylum seekers) but we must all respond in action and with love to the issues that ignite something within us.
Don’t be afraid to help
If you are someone who feels even the slightest sense of insecurity or hesitancy in your ability to help others, let me assure you it will immediately be displaced by the sense of purpose you’ll find. And here’s the thing, you have already been given all that you need to make a difference. Helping doesn’t follow any prescribed ‘model’. In fact, it is quite simple. Take what you’re already passionate about, your gifts, skills and abilities and where they meet the needs of the world, there is your ‘sweet-spot for helping out’ (so to speak). So whether you’re a tradie, teacher, doctor, student or stay-at-home-mum, someone, somewhere needs you and will benefit immeasurably by you stepping out and into their need.
Many of us know but I wish all of us could experience how utterly simple and yet unbelievably rewarding it is to get alongside those in our society who most need our help, and to see them flourish as a result. Nothing beats it. I’m convinced all of us can live a life of adventure and purpose through meaningful relationships with the marginalized and oppressed.
I would hate for people to think that in starting this house and sharing about it with others that Britt and I thought we were these special people doing this incredible thing. It’s simply not the case. We’re not special. We are passionate, driven and focused but not special. We are just responding to a need that’s been put in front of us with what we have in our hands.
What can you do?
What irresistible need is in front of you right now? Who could you step in to help or stand up for? Is it a cause, a family member or a child in your neighborhood who simply needs someone to play with? It doesn’t have to be ‘big’ or public or blogged about. It just has to require your time, love and courage to get involved.
*Name changed to protect this friends privacy