I've been reading the news out of Turkey and Syria with shock and sorrow. As of this morning, the death toll has climbed to over 11,000 people, with many more expected. Rescue crews from around the world have been mobilized to help Turkish and Syrian workers rescue people from the rubble under freezing conditions. Perhaps you've seen the footage of these incredible rescues, reminders that even amidst such incomprehensible tragedy, people act with great courage and compassion on behalf of strangers.
These are glimpses of the image of God in humanity — a God who moves toward human suffering, not away from it; a God who will one day wipe all suffering from the earth and restore humanity. Below is an adaptation of a prayer written by David Taylor that you may find helpful as you pray:
O Lord, you who do not look away from the pain of this world, open our eyes, we pray, to see the pain of our neighbors in Turkey and Syria and, by grace, to become the healing presence and power of Jesus to them, so that our hearts might be kindled with your neighbor love this day. We pray this in the name of the Merciful One. Amen.
This part of the world is close to our hearts at Incarnation. We have long-standing ministry partners in the region whose work we are privileged to support, and whom we love dearly. Megan W. and I last visited our partners in November 2021; you can read about that trip here or listen to the sermon I preached on the following Sunday, which told a story from our trip, here. Our friends are hurting, and their community is ministering to those hurting all around them. The sense of loss and instability is enormous.
If you would like to give to relief efforts, we recommend the earthquake relief fund of Anglican Relief and Development (ARDF). ARDF partners with local churches and works with vetted on-the-ground partners; they are experienced in disaster relief and we trust their leadership. In the coming days, our outreach team will be recommending an emergency relief gift from Incarnation to ARDF, and we encourage you to give generously as well. Give here.
Last Sunday was World Mission Sunday, and I can think of few people who better embody God's mission to the world than our friends in the West Asia region. In sensitive, patient, respectful ways, they incarnate the presence and kingdom of Jesus among their friends and neighbors.
I know that some people in our community carry some baggage around the idea of mission and evangelism; I do too! We have all seen this work practiced in ways that are insensitive, manipulative, controlling, and even harmful. But when I spend time with our West Asia partners, I am reminded that the world (including our neighborhood) is full people who are genuinely curious to know more about the person of Jesus, who are drawn to his teaching, his kingdom, and his offer of grace, in whom the Holy Spirit has already been at work for a very long time. And when those people, drawn by the Spirit, encounter a humble, gracious, culturally respectful, non-coercive witness like our partners in West Asia, they experience the gospel as truly good news — sometimes news they have been waiting all their lives to hear. It's a wondrous thing, and a healthy corrective to the kind of cynicism I can so easily feel.
I loved the litany we prayed on Sunday and how it captured both the failures, temptations, and hopes of world mission. You can read it again here.
Finally, thank you to everyone who prayed for the Wakefield High School community last week — including for my family, and the Owen family. Wakefield is at the center of our community; it's the only high school in South Arlington, the place where Randolph students will eventually attend, and home to several Incarnation kids, including mine. It was a sobering week, and I'm grateful for your prayers and desire to engage. The young people of our community are hurting, and I invite you to continue praying about how Incarnation can best love and serve them.