For several weeks I’ve been hearing about the crisis in Aleppo. It sounds awful. I’ve seen the photos, and you probably have too. But to be honest, I haven’t really cared. It doesn’t affect me, it’s far away, and what can I really do anyway?
The tragic headlines over the last few days finally got to me. I couldn’t keep ignoring the situation. I decided to educate myself about what is actually happening in Aleppo. Here’s what I found:
- Aleppo is not actually a small town, or even a small city. It’s actually the third largest city in its region, which used to have a thriving population of over 2 million people. (I must admit, I was a little embarrassed that I had never heard of the city until now.)
- Aleppo is not a “new” crisis, in that it has been in turmoil since 2011. It has taken five years for us to hear much about it, or perhaps care.
- Over 470,000 people have lost their lives since 2011. On average, that’s almost 1,600 people per week.
- About 4.8 million people have become refugees, comparable to the entire population of Washington D.C.
- In January, Aleppo’s average temperature is 44 degrees. Most refugees live in tents and lack warm clothing and heat.
So what’s the big deal? People are struggling all over, right? Maybe. But here’s what Jesus climbed a mountain and declared in his last public lesson (Matthew 25):
“(34) 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. (35) 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. (36) I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’”
So, who are “the least of these?” If you have nothing left, are you not one of ‘the least’? Do needy people have to knock on our door for us to be obligated to help them? Do they need to be a part of our city? Do we need to know them personally? Here’s how Jesus ended his lesson:
“(41) Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.’ (42) For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. (43) 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.’
“(44) Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“(45) And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
“(46) And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
If we have to ask if Aleppo matters, we may have even bigger questions to ask.
To hear more about why showing mercy matters, listen here.
Authored by NCC Assistant Pastor Christian Glisson | northcentral.org