Courage to Ask

Syrian refugeesFor the most part I have been a second tier supporter of our congregation’s involvement in the Syrian Refugee situation. Many others do the heavy lifting. Currently, the congregation has brought one family to the city; more on the horizon.

The focus of the work rightly needs to be upon the well-being of the family, the provision of a safe place – physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually – where they can heal and rebuild their lives.

That said, it is almost impossible not to be aware of many dynamics.

What strikes me the most is the almost miraculous dance between the declaration of a need and the delight of a person with a specific skill set or network to respond with abundance.

  • The family arrives at the airport. The father is not well. One of the people in the welcoming group was a physician before she fled Syria and is now working on her Canadian accreditation. She looks at the condition of the father and on the way from the airport they stop at Emergency. He has an appendectomy later that night.
  • The support team learns that the teenage son is an excellent soccer player. An email goes from a daughter of the support team to a friend detailing the need for equipment, team and opportunity. The word goes out through a network; coaches and players respond.
  • The two carry-on suitcases and two plastic bags that accompanied the family of four obviously does not include furniture. A member of the team spots a bedroom bureau in the congregation’s Thrift Shop; it needs repair and refinishing. The need is expressed. And a member of our Introvert Club responds, “I can do that.” The bureau is loaded in his truck and the bureau will be one more offering blessed by a particular skill and passion.

The list grows longer daily. People search out high quality clothing that meets the needs of each family member. Translators appear and make connection. Schools work to customize specific programs for students whose last three years have been spent in a refugee camp.

In many ways, the multitude of hands reaching out reflect an image of the best of people and of Canada. Gratitude and amazement form the appropriate responses.

[Tweet “generosity, compassion and abundance are set free by the identification and declaration of needs”]

And yet a part of me cannot help but notice that generosity, compassion and abundance were set free by the identification and declaration of needs that, if met, would make a real difference.

So a small challenge grows in the midst of my amazement and gratitude. Can I be as specific and bold in the declaration of what I need that would make a real and significant difference in my life?

Can I be as specific and bold in the declaration of the real needs of my family and the organizations of which I am part? Clearly the criteria must be a legitimate need that would make a transformative difference.

I wonder if I have the courage to think that deeply and declare that boldly. Or am I too easily distracted by an easy accommodation to comfort, convenience and consuming?


  1. When I was in cancer treatment I reached out for help well beyond my small circle of friends and was amazed, and so grateful, for the abundance of help that came back. For me, it is easier to ask when the need is finite, specific and physical, and the position of deficiency is clear.
    Thank you for your blog.

    1. Isn’t it great that you know the areas that are the easiest – “when the need is finite, specific and physical, and the position of deficiency is clear” – and those other areas that pose challenge!

  2. ah…tricky word, “need”…it seems that if we all agree that it is a legitimate need, we move in some of our best collective ways. You know the big stuff, like those outlined in your post…but the grey areas…those that we have yet to agree on… how to respond to addiction; economics and climate change, Israel Palestine relations; for instance….doesn’t always bring out compassionate response ( Sometimes the opposite) and we often argue about what would make a transformative difference . At an individual level is it enough to respond to what a person names as their need? Maybe it is.

    Thanks for your post and blessings on your trip

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