Flag Bearer for Syria: Image Bearer of Him who Called me.

Flag Bearer for Syria: Image Bearer of Him who Called me.   11986291_10154121933998368_2040453882_o

(Hitchhiker on a Global Peace Movement, Part Two)

May Peace Begin With Me. #WeWelcomeRefugees #RefugeesWelcome #IAmTheChurchToo

“Now, NOW, is the time for the Church to be the Church. In the past, the Church may have been defined by what the Church is against — but, in this defining moment in history, may the Church be clearly defined by what it is for — and the Church has always been for the stranger, the sojourner, and the welcoming arms of the Savior. How can we not move heaven and earth to let the broken in  – when heaven moved and came to earth to let us in”? – Ann Voskamp

Flag-bearer for Syria at the UN International Day of peace, 2013.

Flag-bearer for Syria at the UN International Day of peace, 2013.

I met Ann Voskamp four and a half years ago while searching for encouragement on the world wide web of information overload. No doubt I was typing homeschool topics and house management tips in the search engine while seated at our table in preparation for schooling my 3 children and my extra students in our learning co-operative. David Nevue’s piano rendition of “The Mystery and the Glory” rang out of my computer as hustle and bustle rang through the house. Ann Voskamp shared wisdom from the Word and anecdotes of farm life in Canada schooling her six children. She shared hardship and delight and inspired the eyes and soul with breathtaking photography of her life that seemed to also capture the reader. She is a prophetess and an encourager. And she has done it again.

The quote above was shared today as an action step for the Church to take as a response to the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II. When Ann and I first met via her blog aholyexperience.com the war in Syria was just rearing its ugly head and this war in Syria, now in its fifth year, shows no signs of letting up. Well over 200,000 people are thought to have died—though counting the dead is so difficult that at one point the United Nations (UN) simply gave up. Perhaps a million more have been injured. Almost 12 million Syrians have been forced from their homes, with around 4 million fleeing abroad. Syria is one of the top countries of origin for Europe’s boat people. It is telling that around 250,000 of the displaced have sought sanctuary in war-torn Iraq. Our television screens and computer screens are full of scenes of people longing to find refuge in neighboring countries or boarding planes to find resettlement. Pope Francis is calling for every single community across Europe to open their doors to one fleeing refugee family.

And a large number of people will be relocated in my home town of Twin Falls, including refugees from Syria, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and possibly Somalia. We are home to a large Refugee Resettlement location.

Over the last several months, the small town I live in, in southern Idaho, has been getting a lot of media attention with regard to the community response to Syrian refugees determined to be resettled here. As I’ve watched, listened, and interacted with people on both sides of the argument, I’ve found myself wondering what I am called to do.

A little timeline of my “life’s opportunities” may explain a sudden sense of obligation or

“calling” for me to personally respond.

And I will.


August 15, 2015 – Celebrate Life. Celebrate Marriage.

Butterfly Release: Celebrate Life11885385_1024228667621474_8772935449933693050_n

From 10:00am to 11:00am my son and I set sound for a small worship team to sing during a Celebration of Life and Loss hosted by Stanton Healthcare Magic Valley. The morning was somber in acknowledging the loss of lives through abortion. It was also a way to celebrate lives saved through the pregnancy resource center in the heart of Twin Falls. Pastors shared and worshipers worshiped and mothers and fathers grieved and the community praised Him who created man in His own image.

“God created man in His image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27)

People are the image bearers of God Himself.

Pastor Mike Littleton shared the opening prayer that morning. He shared a glimpse of his heart regarding the refugee discussion here a few weeks later.

“People are the image bearers of God. Not trees. Not animals. People. This is the reality of all humanity regardless of ethnicity, social background, or religion. All of us, though very broken, are image bearers of God, and it is in this way that we are to see the refugee. If we don’t view them as image bearers, then it becomes all too simple for us to leave them in harm’s way to perish. And if we, Church, would have the heart of God, then we would not desire that any would be left in harm’s way to perish (2 Peter 3:9).”11902516_1024228700954804_7644071599614802943_n

– Mike Littleton

Just after a powerful, symbolic release of butterflies and beautiful time of sharing with Christian brothers and sisters about the value of human life, I stepped down from the stage to visit with fellow body members. It was here I was reminded that the primary dissenting voices regarding the relocation of Syrian refugees are from within the “church.” A dear friend and fellow prayer warrior encouraged me, with my faith community, to join forces against the Refugee Center as it is making way for “Muslims to infiltrate” and continue the “Islamization” of America. She shared how her husband was one of the primary forces in charge of the campaign to shut down the CSI Refugee Center. That the time was now to take action.

My head was spinning. My heart was afflicted. I want to love the value of human life. All life. I want to say unto the refugee, come. I want to do as Jesus said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”


She is calling for the church to mobilize against the proposed enemy.

I don’t want to and I am the church, too.

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In this defining moment in history, let us be the Church and be clearly defined by what we are for — ‘and the Church has always been for the stranger, the sojourner, and the welcoming arms of the Savior.’

I do not know that the refugee is my enemy. I do not believe she is. I also know that the words of the wounded Savior gave me clear instructions on what to do should she turn out to be my enemy.

Listen to what He says,

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27–28).

Jesus is clear—love everyone regardless of what they do to you or say about you and to you. In fact, go beyond that, and be a blessing to them! Pray for them. Do good to them. Welcome them. Love them.

“Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?” (Mark 11:17). In other words, Jesus came to cast out fear and enable the nations,—all ethnic groups from all over the world—to live together in such a way that had never before been experienced. That way would be under his Kingship and authority. – Mike Littleton

A long line of questioning began to fill up in my mind. A line dance of lists lingered.

Beginning with,

“how can we not move heaven and earth to let the broken in  – when heaven moved and came to earth to let us in”?

Image bearer of Him, friend, full-time lover of humanity and life. I am the church, too.


Persian Wedding: Celebrate Mariage

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That same evening, I had the privilege of DJing a wedding for a couple who were celebrating their recent marriage in Twin Falls. The bride was Persian and the Groom, from Iraq. They were celebrating here in Twin Falls where the Bride’s family resettled as refugees when she was a child. The two helped me prepare for the celebration by sharing a thumb drive full of Iraqi and Persian music and describing some of the cultural observances we would all share together during their special evening.

The wedding was a colorful kaleidoscope of culture and dancing.IMG_8379

There was more cultural diversity in the Historic Ballroom in southern Idaho that night than I experienced in my high schoolIMG_8380classes in southern California.

Amidst the 150 people were guests from Iraq, Iran, Syria, countries in Africa, Mexico, Bosnia, and Nepal. As a Christian, this night made me long for the day when God’s kingdom will be established here on earth (Revelation 21:3) and on that day, people from every tribe, tongue, and nation will be singing songs of praise to Him at the greatest wedding feast.

The CSI Refugee Center was a common link between these otherwise, unlikely friendships.

I experienced a great time with my 5 new, otherwise unlikely friendships, also.

It is common for children to gravitate to the DJ table in hopes to request their favorite song or luckily get an opportunity to speak on the mic. And so five curious, bubbly children danced their way up to my table, and into my heart. They asked me to play the Iraqi song that made all the people yell and smile again. I explained that I didn’t know how to say the names of the dances nor do I know the one they are asking for. We decided we needed to be good detectives and ask their aunt to decipher the clues to remember their special song.

After the typical line dances and usual how-does-that-computer-do-that and how-high-are-your-golden-shoes and how-will-I-know-when-my-special-song-is-coming-up line-of-questioning. . . I asked my own line dance of questions. . .


Where do you live? {In our new house, now.}11986291_10154121933998368_2040453882_o

Where do you go to school? {I.B Perrine Elementary School: it’s named after the man who the bridge was named for. It’s a special school. I think it’s the best one, here.}

Were you born here in Twin Falls? {No, I was born in Iraq. We were born in Syria. I’m her brother.}

How long have you lived here? {I moved here 5 years ago. They moved here one year ago. She moved her this month.}

Why did you move here? {There is violence in Syria. There is violence in Iraq. We had to leave my cousins there but my mother said they can come too, soon.}

Did you know each other when you lived in Iraq and Syria? { No, we met at school. There are bombs in Syria. There are new friends here at I.B. Perrine School. Can you play that dancing – yelling song again?}

Yes, let’s go find our detective helper.

And in that moment, all of a sudden, “I was unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory” and I {more than ever} wanted to love the stranger. I wanted to love my neighbor. I wanted to love the refugee.

Part-time DJ, part-time detective, part-time line dancer, full-time lover of humanity. I am the church, too.


April 14, 2015 – House of Prayer: Heart of the Refugee

Tuesday Night Prayer 

The call to long periods of prayer was a knowing I have had for my whole life. And as seasons of life
change, so do the days or observances of sustained times of spiritual seeking and intercession and worship. During this particular prayer night, I was just a few weeks fresh from returning from Vermont for a training with an organization called Children of the Earth. My participation in this global organization that pioneers spiritual activism has posed both a challenge and strengthening to my faith as a Christian. I have had to flex my inter-faith dialogue muscles and develop a sense of compassion for things I do not understand. I have sought wisdom from God when I encounter world views that are not my own and asked for supernatural understanding in concepts that collide with truth.

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It is here that I am the sojourner.

As I navigate the territory of unknown I seek refuge under the wings of He who calls me. (Ps. 91:4)

This night of prayer was with a handful of my friends who agree to spend time praying and worshiping with our Creator God who spends time with us as we honor Him and desire Him to speak or share His heart with us. I brought my journal notebook and sketch pad and charcoals for tonight’s time.

As I prayed and read scripture, I noted the Words on His heart.

The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow. . .

—Psalm 146:9

The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

—Lev 19:34

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.

—Deu 10:18

“I was a stranger and you welcomed Me in.” – Matthew 25:35

11080899_10204087614496840_3851578162793397181_nAnd then the drawing began. Charcoal lines became faceless dark skinned strangers embraced by a woman with compassion. Charcoal lines created covering of Spirit and charcoal lines portrayed the refuge under which we held to each other.

And then the writing began.

“Long for Heavenly places as a refugee.” This is not your home. Ache as if you could be there, but make you home here until you can.

You are the stranger. You are the refugee.

Part-time Intercessor, part-time artist, full-time refugee. I am the church, too.


September 18, 2014 – Hitchhiker on a Global Peace Movement

United Nations: International Day of Peace

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I was invited to attend the International Day of Peace at the United Nations in New York as a guest of my father, and the organization called Children of the Earth, COE.

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly of the UN has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. This year’s theme was “Education for Peace.”

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Inside conference room number one, hundreds of youth from around the world gathered to listen as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Messenger of Peace, Dr. Jane Goodall, UN Youth Champion, Monique Coleman and several other distinguished speakers cast the vision for quality education for all children across the world. Mr. Ban recalled the words of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl and youth activist shot by the Taliban for attending classes: “one teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world.” He called on world governments to increase investments in education. Three COE representatives joined the panel of young people–sharing their projects for peace and calling to action world nations to join in efforts to reduce poverty, end hunger, recover wasted potential and build better societies for all.

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After the conference, every one in attendance was invited outside for the annual ceremony to ring the peace bell inviting all nations and people to honor a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.

On the way to this ceremony, the youth were selected as flag bearers representing the 193 United Nations. I was invited to carry a flag, too.

“Randomly” I was chosen to be the flag-bearer for Syria.

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Just a week before, President Obama gave a speech that mobilized the authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons. 

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As a flag bearer of Syria, my job was to pray specifically the Universal prayer of “May Peace Prevail in. . . in my case, on my heart, as my calling. . . Syria.

Part -time flag bearer, full-time image bearer, full-time lover of humanity and refugee. I am the church, too.

“The local church is the most diverse social network on the planet. And it is rising up like never before to engage the great global issues of our time. God has called individuals, communities and the church to become champions of the poor and vulnerable.” – World Relief

Today, when I was searching for encouragement on the world wide web of information overload. Searching for homeschool topics and house management tips and news of the “Syrian refugee situation” while seated at our table in preparation for schooling my two youngest children, my news feed was flooded with the words of Ann Voscamp. A call to action rang out of my computer as hustle and bustle rang through the house.

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The small town I live in, in southern Idaho, is preparing a panel to discuss the facts and community response to Syrian refugees determined to be resettled here. Parts of the church are strategizing to close the doors to refugees. As I’ve watched, listened, and interacted with people on both sides of the argument, I’ve found myself wondering what I am called to do.

And I will.

I am the church, too.

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“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, as our country commemorates Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September, honoring the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country. And as we enjoy the last day at the fair and the day off of work, I will be seated at the gate to the city, on the bridge that allows all traffic in, near our remodeled visitor center with a simple message:

#WeWelcomeRefugees because #IAmTheChurchToo

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4 thoughts on “Flag Bearer for Syria: Image Bearer of Him who Called me.

  1. Thank you for all you are doing to open people’s eyes. Because #IAmTheChurchToo. I am worried about the attitudes of local parishioners, and especially the effect of a particular intolerant radio announcer whose name I will not mention. He is a poison and spreads disease in our community and within the Church. We must do all we can to neutralize his rhetoric.

  2. Thank you Jennifer for your thoughtful blog. The pastor of the local fellowship I attend spoke on the Great Commission this Sunday. He also spoke of our response to the Syrian refugees. He reminded us that we have dual citizenship first as members of the worldwide Christian Nation that belongs to Christ’s Kingdom and our second citizenship is to the United States. He reminded us that we are also refugees here on earth. He challenged us to remember that though God’s Word told His People that as refugees we are to still build houses, have families, grow food and bless our communities, this world is not our home. Our job as refugees is not to maintain our culture but stand out within our culture. We need to see all these immigrants as God bringing the world to us. We do have this opportunity and challenge tp be the Church and live out our faith as Jesus did- He gave His life for this world. We are not to create a Christian bubble to live in but live as the first Christians did sharing the Good News no matter what the cost to their comfort levels. We are the Church a Holy Nation, citizens of the divine Kingdom of Heaven. Let’s welcome our new mission field to our Magic Valley.

  3. Pingback: Champions of the Poor and Vulnerable | colormejennifer

  4. Pingback: Today, I wish I was blind. Truly. So I could not see as I do. | colormejennifer

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