I was told by friends that this might be a dangerous time to travel in that area. Wasn’t Greece and Turkey some of the places that “those refugees” were fleeing to? What would happen if I got stuck somewhere in all that mess?
Since I’m a travel-aholic, I didn’t even contemplate any troubles. I was so excited to see these places! I remember learning about the Acropolis in Athens, Greece when I was in the fifth grade and have wanted to go there ever since. I wanted to experience Michelangelo sculptures, ornate churches, and hundred year old paintings. I wanted to see the aqua blue Mediterranean, the blinding sun in Greece and the rug weavers in Turkey. I wanted to see where Princess Grace lived in Monaco, the beaches in the French Rivera and the beautiful city of Barcelona, Spain.
And on top of all the sights, since we were on a cruise, we were able to enjoy all the richness one provides: excellent food anytime we wanted it, a steward to clean our room twice a day, two beautiful pools to enjoy, outdoor movies at night, too many activities to count, and especially shore excursions where we saw wonders usually only seen in books. Yes, we were living the American dream! Sitting back and enjoying our wonderful life.
And then one night at 3:00 am, the PA system broke into our contented sleep with this announcement: “To all passengers. We have come upon a small raft with 46 men, women and children on board. Please be patient, but we will stop our progress and help them.”
The lights on the outside of the boat came on. The ship sent out a small boat with food and water for the refuges as well as to see what their status was. They then contacted the Coast Guard and waited until the refugees were safely escorted to Greece. We couldn’t see the small raft from our room but realized that our privileged western civilization just ran into a real life trauma of persecution, fear and danger.
Here on the cruise ship we were totally separated from the real world. One of the passengers remarked “I sure hope they don’t bring those people on board!” and another added, “Will this make us late to our next destination?”
Did they not realize that there were 46 souls in dire need of help and protection? Having our ship stop for those four hours made an impact on my life. No matter how well we Americans have it here, our Lord called us to go into the entire world and preach the good news, making disciples in every nation. And that means whatever we can do at the moment: giving refugees food and water or sending a check or going ourselves.
I realized that is what Jesus did when he came to earth. We are all refugees, trying to find a safe place to live with joy and peace, free from dictators and bombs.
I take my freedom much more seriously now and appreciate even more all that God has blessed me and my family with. My prayers now include that part of the world where one selfish dictator can rule over the lives, safety and happiness of thousands, if not millions, of decent people.
I am more aware of how we spend our money, ways of helping others and realizing we need to teach the next generation how to love our neighbors. Even if they live thousands of miles away.
Manna from Heaven
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in…Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:35-40 NAS