We’re in a world where phrases like ‘elevator pitch’ and ‘return on investment’ land deeper than business plans and seep into our spiritual beings. We find ourselves surfing the waves of social issue to social issue—trying to stay afloat, never letting ourselves be immersed with the understanding that every ‘issue’ is made up of the Imago Dei of hundreds, thousands or millions of people affected by something beyond their control.
It’s in this space of compelling mission statements and cutting-edge websites, that the call to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15) carries a holy weight. The practice gives way to a life of worship that causes us to tread lightly because we see Jesus around every corner, in every tear-filled emotion, in every graduation party.
Weeping with our friends in the refugee community has forced us to understand truths in this world that we don’t want to be true. We gain just a glimpse of what evil is driving people from their homes, striking terror in the hearts of millions.
Rejoicing with our neighbors from all over the world gives us a picture of heaven like we’ve not seen before. Could the banqueting feast feel a lot like a Congolese wedding? Eating to your heart’s content, hearing stories of a journey that shouldn’t have ended with safety, much less with celebrating the start of a new family? When we are there, it sure feels like a glimpse of the Kingdom.
Many of our neighbors and friends are international refugees from countries like Iraq, Burma, and Sudan. The honor they have bestowed us in sharing their stories, their hearts, their wisdom, and their faith with us is not taken lightly. What our neighbors have to teach us is far beyond what we can offer them.
But what we can do is weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. In an extension of this practice, we are humbled to participate in El Camino OKC in solidarity with our friends. We have heard of their desperately long journeys to safety. We have listened and learned and prayed and wept. And now we walk. It’s a small act of support, but it’s the least we can do in response to all this community has offered us.
—Brad and Kim Bandy