Refugees and misanswered prayer: A voice from Hungary

God always seems to have a person in a place in a time. And in times like these the front lines are not abandoned. In virtually every calamity, natural disaster, and remote region you’ll find followers of Jesus.

It should come as no surprise Christ’s followers are in the middle of the Syrian refugee crisis, sometimes they are the refugees.

The author of the Across Cultures blog lives in Hungary near “No Man’s Land,” where

[t]here are living, breathing humans who will soon be picking their way through kilometers of undetonated land mines into Croatia. There is a dad with two kids who walked on a broken ankle with a tiny hand in each of his to reach a gate before it closed.

Afghan refugees living on Canal St. Martin, France, 2010 Image source

Afghan refugees living on Canal St. Martin, France, 2010 (Image source)

The following is nothing less than an indictment of the way followers of Jesus understand His ways; what it means for Him to answer prayer:

[W]e Christians have a little problem on our hands – a little family issue that we need to sort through.

 

It turns out, that our God actually does answer prayer.

 

And, right now, that is a problem for us. Sometimes the family chafes at how God scripts his answers. Oh, we would never say it that way, but when you push down through legitimate fears about ISIS and jihad, and all the rest of the rhetoric, we Christians are left with one very basic question.

 

We have an epic proportioned problem on our hands that started with prayer. Have you prayed for the Middle East?

 

Have you prayed that dreams and visions of Jesus would be realized?

 

Have you prayed for peace in nations, in hearts, in lives?

 

Have you prayed that Jesus would be revealed?

 

Have you prayed … envisioning that God would call brave missionary souls to pack up their comfortable life and move into the danger zones of Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran.

 

We did. We all did.

 

We prayed for their safety, their boldness, their language acquisition, that God would give them cross-cultural wisdom. And we got out our wallets and we gave so that they could go. ‘God bless ya.’

 

And now, we need to stop. Put on the brakes. Backtrack. Reverse motion.

 

Because God just sent a world to our doors in answer to our prayers. And we don’t like it.

 

[…]

 

Quite frankly, I am not sure how God can get any plainer that this. If 120,000 people making a human tide across the map of Europe is not as plain as a marker in the sky, then we just do not know how to read.

And that, brothers and sisters, is what Matt Capps would call “a good word.”

What if God is so intent on getting people the gospel that He’s willing to bring them to it since we aren’t always obedient in taking it to them? If I look at a humanitarian crisis to see only the political expense involved, I’m face with the question: “Whose disciple am I, really?” The grimy grip of worldliness affects its clutch not only from “smoking, chewing and running around with those who do.” Not even primarily from there.

It’s as if we want God to answer prayer in ways that dirty His hands but not ours. We love missionary miracles, but loathe the circumstances in which the miraculous occurs. We relish the great drama of redemption but hesitate to be more than bit players or stage hands. Invited to be participants, we content ourselves with a good seat, a jumbo popcorn and supersized drink.

I have a very real concern many American Christians have lost the missionary impulse of Matthew 28 and Acts 1. The driving force of our spiritual fathers and mothers is being weakened by nationalism and materialism, both deadly foes of the life in Christ.

It may well be that political winds, miltary ventures, or terrorist groups roil the Middle East for years to come. In such turmoil those looking for safety can be found a raft ride or minefield meander away from someone who can provide it.

They rest of the world may little note nor long remember the heartbreaking condition of these war refugees. Followers of Jesus are not allowed such a luxury. The response of the kingdoms of this world cannot determine that of Christ’s ambassadors and the King we represent. 

[Read the entire post at Across Cultures.]

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Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.