I’m not going to lie, I didn’t want to write this. I scoured the news looking for another article about events happening around our world that I could cover in this space instead. However, for every article I found about something other than the senseless and tragic death of the 71 individuals recently found in a van on the side of an Austrian highway or the multiple thousands like them that have died in the pursuit of a better life this year alone, I kept coming back to this story. Honestly, the reason I didn’t want to write about it is that it just seems like a depressing and hopeless situation and I didn’t want to spend my Friday afternoon delving into their heart-rending tale.
However, I also questioned whether or not it would still be considered relevant by Monday morning when most people are likely to read this. In the end, it was really that thought that reinforced that this story was the correct way to spend my time. You see, unless new details come to light over the weekend, chances are that much of the news coverage surrounding not only the account of those who suffocated in the back of that truck but also those who are dying every day as they cross the Mediterranean will have stopped. At the very least, it won’t lead the news cycles anymore. And that’s completely understandable. After all, news agencies can’t keep coming back to the same story over and over again because, in addition to being bad for ratings, chances are there will be some new tragedy or potential danger that demands our attention. That’s simply the world we live in.
That said, it would be a grave mistake for us to equate a lack of news coverage with the lack of a problem. The refugee crisis in Europe will eventually come back into our collective conscience because, unless something drastic happens to improve the situation, another tragedy like the 71 found dead in that truck is going to happen again. And, when it does, chances are it’ll make the news as well and cause us to remember that there are thousands upon thousands of people on the other side of the Atlantic who deem the abundant risks of placing their lives in the hands of traffickers like the ones that abandoned that truck in Austria well worth the potential reward of a better, but still poverty stricken, life in Europe.
Ultimately, I would love to outline a step by step program for how we, as followers of Christ, can make a difference in this situation. I’d love to tell you where the needs are greatest and how we can work to end the evil, violence, and poverty that have helped give rise to this state of affairs. But I can’t. All I can really think of is to ask you to pray. Remember this situation, remember these people in your prayers long after they have been forgotten in the news. Remember that God loves them and weeps for their pain just as much as he does yours and mine.
And remember that while we may not know how to help, God does and if we ask with hearts genuinely open to whatever answer he will give, he will tell us. It may be that your role in ending these tragedies is simply to pray and support those who are called to act more directly. But it is also quite possible that God will call you to do something more. If he does, will you be ready?
In the late 1700’s, God gave William Carey a passion for taking the gospel to India, a venture that was seen at the time as both impossible and pointless. However he would not give up on it. Shortly after Carey, Andrew Fuller, and a small group of other young believers started the Baptist Missions Society in 1792, Fuller reflected on India and said that it seemed like going into a deep, unexplored mine. Carey responded “Well, I will go down, if you will hold the rope.”
God calls some of us to go into the mine and others to hold the rope. But just as Carey and the others each had an important role to play in taking the gospel to India, each of us has an important role in helping to end the senseless deaths occurring each day as people try to cross into Europe. What’s yours?