By Jenny Rose Wilson
Psalm 65: 5-8
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
the one who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples,
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
When you look at our world and our nation right now, do you feel that tumult of the nations David references in Psalm 65:7? I do. I have the honor of living and working as a midwife in a community of mostly Muslim families who came to Seattle as refugees. I also recently returned from Jordan, Israel and Palestine, where I got a few more glimpses into the refugee crisis. I struggle to know what to do with the unique perspective God’s given me. I want to be a voice for refugees. I want to be a bridge, a reconciler. But where to begin?
Islamophobia feels like the roaring of the seas that daily wreaks havoc in front of me. The felt vulnerability of my refugee friends and neighbors is acute. One of my best friends recently confided, “I don’t even feel like an American any more. I have been here for 25 years. I have an American passport, but the ‘place of birth’ inside it says Somalia. That makes me a suspect somehow. How can I feel at home like this?” Imagine refugees who thought they were fleeing to safety, only to wonder instead if the shame and devastation of the civil war that almost broke them has followed them here. They have been unwittingly thrust into the throes of a new kind of civil war with a tribalism called “racism.” Bullying is at an all time high for Muslim children in my community. My friends struggle to protect their kids and help them process the violence and hate they frequently see and experience. As mosques are defaced, burned or otherwise vandalized, some families feel unsafe going to their places of worship. Women who wear the hijab feel especially unsafe and more prone to verbal and even physical abuse. Then there are the immigration issues. I have patients with brand new babies who have been waiting for what seems like a lifetime to be reunited with husbands, parents or children still living overseas, only to have hope deferred yet again. And it makes their hearts sick. I struggle to find words. I want to give comfort. I want to be a bridge, a reconciler. But where to begin?
The best starting place is always Jesus. So I pray, “Jesus, you are the way to every place I don’t know how to get to. You are the truth above all deception and hate. You are the life in every situation that seems dead and hopeless. So help us. Help me with my fear… I confess I’m afraid because the problems seem so immense and I wonder if your love is strong enough to overcome them. I’m afraid of my own inadequacies – of saying or doing the wrong thing. But I want to learn to love like you. I want to see how far your love can go; how deeply it can transform. YOU are the ‘hope of all the ends of the earth.’ YOU are the bridge, the reconciler. I want to see you do it, and join you in it. Use me, I’m in.”
Fear is a serious issue isn’t it? The minute we identify the enemy as a person, a political persuasion, an ethnic group or a religious identity, we have already lost the battle. Fear is a terrible taskmaster; it always blinds, cripples, lies and enslaves. Yet, how easy it is to give in to fear instead of pressing on to embrace the perfect love that casts it out!
I am a midwife. I specialize in helping people push past fear to the place where new life is born. God is bringing something new to birth, a place where Christians and Muslims, insiders and outsiders, left and right and all in-between find common ground and recovered identity in God’s kingdom. I believe the Church has a special opportunity these days to midwife this kingdom birth, helping all who are held captive by fear to push through the pain into new life as individuals, families, cities, nations and a global community. This is where the ministry of reconciliation begins. Will you join me in praying and working toward this?
Until those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at God’s signs…
With love, Jenny Rose