Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:34-36)
Relate: Just over a year ago I stood on a street corner for hours and watched a panicked exodus. The fight between the terrorists (or more accurately, freedom fighters) and the police (or more accurately, terrorists) had intensified early on the morning of my first day there. It went from sporadic gunfire into a running battle. The police (terrorists) enlarged their “curfew” (read “banned”) zone and five to six thousand people were forcibly evacuated their homes over the course of the next two days. I watched as people were carrying appliances, rugs, clothes, and other basic living items on their backs and then dumping them into piles on or near this major intersection. From there they would be part of a que loading up as a steady caravan of empty trucks arrived, loaded up, and then left for other parts of the city. There are no words to express how heartbreaking this scene was. The number of displaced refugees within the city of Diyarbakir jumped to over twenty-five thousand by the time I was leaving on Friday.
There was a silver lining that I did discover walking other parts of the city late Thursday afternoon. On a whim I left the main street I was walking and instead walked up a parallel narrow alley just two blocks over. About every five to six blocks I would find one of these trucks unloading. This wasn’t a rich part of town. The apartments here were probably even smaller than they looked if they match such similar apartments in similar areas of Istanbul. But as crowded as these homes probably already were, I watched over and over again these kind and loving citizens open their homes to those who had been evicted (on pain of death) from theirs. Were they family? Were they coworkers to the ones they were inviting in? Were they random strangers who have a heart of gold? Whatever the reason, I cannot but help compare the response of the western world that has such a greater capacity and yet continues to keep their doors closed.
React: I wonder how many of us in the west will end up surprised when we are standing before the throne. We will wonder why the doors have been shut on us when we have so evilly shut our doors on others. Will we hear the Lamb saying to us, “Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.”
Please enlarge our hearts. We have been so richly blessed by You. We have reliable electricity, clean drinkable running water, and heat in our homes. This alone puts us at an advantage over billions. As we browse our social media and sip our lattes, remind us of those who are wondering where they will find shelter when the sun sets and the snow begins falling again. When You have given us the capacity to do so much forgive us for doing so little. Help us look for ways to step out both locally and globally to show love to those who so desperately need Your love to be extended through us.