We have a remarkable opportunity.
Today in America there are three social issues which, though they are rarely discussed together, can all be addressed by a simple act of kindness.
- 4.2 million Syrian refugees living outside the country, of which only 130 thousand (less than 4%) have been offered permanent resettlement in other countries. To date the United States has taken in less than 2,000
- Growing “Islamaphobia”, in the United States. Borne out of nationalism and a lack of understanding and fanned to a flame by extremists groups, including ISIS (e.g. ISIL, Daehd) and now American political figures who seek to use that fear to galvanise support for their causes.
- Rapidly shrinking religious communities, struggling for relevance with their congregations, particularly their younger members
The solution is simple, but powerful:
Faith communities (synagogues, temples, churches and mosques) from around the United States should bring 10,000 families of Islamic Syrian refugees, in groups of 10 families, to their towns and cities and commit to provide $60k per year to their family for 3 years to help support them in their time of need.
These simple, relatively cost effective acts of charity will address all three of the issues above.
Having the chance to simply move out of a camp in Lebanon or Jordan is more than most refugees can hope for. The chance to be brought into a community in the United States with funding and support from a well established organization which can help them find education and jobs as well a community of other refugee families is an unheard of opportunity.
In turn the churches which drive this will be able to bring the results of their parishioners charity home to them. It is one thing to run a mission to Africa and see a slideshow, it is quite another to meet the family which your church is helping. To share a cup of coffee with a refugee, not just see there photos in the late night news. This will catapult these organizations onto the world stage and demonstrate that the religious groups of the United States have the ability to transcend politics in defence of human dignity.
Finally and perhaps most importantly this will send a message. A message to those govenors who refuse to accept immigrants in their states. A message to those Muslim Americans who feel as though their home is growing hostile around them. A message to those extremists seeking to build this anger into a war which will validate their cause.
“The United States is a country of peace and tolerance which will look beyond religion and help our neighbours.”
“We will not let the actions of a few dictate our behaviour to those in need.”
“We will fight a war on terror with love.”
The power to change our world is in our hands. It does not require a global summit, or an arsenal of weaponry. It starts with ordinary men and women giving just a little more money than usual to help a family in need during these holidays.
This is currently an initiative which my family and I are working to start, but we need all of the help we can get.
If you are interested in helping, or know of a similar initiative please connect with us on our facebook page, send us a message, and I will do my best to get back to you. https://www.facebook.com/10000families/