My refugee friends are teaching me what it means to seek the well-being of the city that has become my home.
During these past few years in Jordan, my family and I have become friends with several refugee families.
We recently received a picture from Iraqi friends whose young daughter just celebrated her birthday. She was wearing one of my daughter’s hand-me-down dresses. My family and I met her when she was a little girl. We’ve watched her grandpa succumb to the complications of diabetes. We’ve watched her little brother begin school. Her family had hoped to emigrate. They have waited. The kids have grown. They are still waiting.
We attended the wedding of the daughter of Syrian patients whom my husband serves. We have seen this young woman transition from daughter to wife and now to mother.
Another Syrian family has grieved the loss of the mother-in-law who lived with them. They have also welcomed two new sons to their family since we met them. During our last visit they had made a collage of photos and hung it on their wall. They are staking roots. They are making a new home. They are living life.
None of these families had plans to be here in Jordan. They had homes, jobs, and lives in Syria and Iraq.
And, yet, here they are. They struggle and are not satisfied with the here and now. Yet, they continue onward in perseverance with courage. Looking beyond with hope. Celebrating birthdays and milestones. Choosing life now and dwelling in a new land. This amazes me. This encourages me.
Writing to the exiles in Babylon, Jeremiah instructed the Israelites, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.
But seek the well-being of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its well-being you will find your well-being” (Jer. 29:5-7).
I have much to learn from our refugee friends.
When given the option to repatriate to the U.S. early in the pandemic, my family and I chose to stay in Jordan. This is home. But as time goes by, we see how the decision to stay has cost us and required waiting. We’ve waited for the airport and borders to open. We’ve waited to hear if our planned visit to the U.S. might happen. We’ve waited through lockdowns. We’ve waited to see our son, our parents, and our family in the U.S. We’ve waited for the pandemic to end. It’s been a struggle. It’s been a privilege!
In our waiting, our privilege has been to seek the well-being of the city where we are, to pray to the Lord on its behalf, to serve those among us with the skills the Lord has entrusted to us.
Has it been hard? Yes. Has it been worth it? Yes!
What might seeking the well-being of the city around you look like?
About the Author: Sue is the IDEAS Community Life Director for Jordan. Along with her husband and two children, she has lived and worked for over 10 years in Africa and the Middle East. Enjoy other blog posts by Sue, such as Preparing to Launch.