Syria has been embroiled in a horrible civil war with over 100,000 killed in the conflict. 2 million have fled Syria as refugees to neighboring nations. 3/4 of these refugees are women and children. The city of Homs has been a place of unspeakable violence for the last two years.
In Homs, Francis van der Lugt, was a 75 year old Dutch priest who had come to live and work in Syria for the last 5 decades. He had ministered to the people of this area for years. He was a former student of psychology before coming to Syria in 1966. He organized yoga workshops and hiking trips to create opportunities for the citizens. He really loved the land and the people. He was a community leader and sought peace during the recent violence. He refused to leave Homs, despite the violence.
In one of his most recent video interviews he stated these words:
“The same way I shared with these people their treasures, I also want to share with them their fear, pain and death. Sharing requires presence, being close, to move from fear to peace, from sadness to joy, from death to life. . . He said we love life, and we love to live. We don’t want to die in a sea of pain and death.”
He converted a room in the monastery to a bakery for local families of any religion to have bread, because many were without food. But in April 2014, a masked gunman entered the monastery. He ordered the priest to sit in a chair. He shot him twice.
This is an inspiriting and instructional story for us. Though I sincerely disagree with his doctrinal beliefs, I applaud this man’s attitude of service.
I believe his statement “sharing requires presence” nails what Jesus wants us as His disciples to be doing in our daily lives. He wants us to ‘come along side’ those who are struggling, suffering, and lost and walk with them in their pain and show them a better way!
This is what Jesus chose to do for us. He chose to fully be present and share in the sufferings of humanity (Phil. 2). This is what Paul did for his converts (2 Cor. 1:5-7). This is why God established elders or shepherds in the local church to lead them as a part of the flock (1 Peter 5:1-6). This attitude is manifest by all successful local ministers who share in the lives of the members. This is the attitude of soul-winners who minister to the hurting in their paths.
Is this your attitude? Is it mine? Are we fully present in sharing the hurts, conflicts, and fears of those in our circle of influence, or do we run away when the suffering starts?