Eternity in Our Hearts

Bringing what endures into everyday life

The value of one divine appointment


On Thursday, I enjoyed posting and scrolling through back-to-school pictures on Facebook. But between the images of kids with fresh clothes and big smiles, I saw a picture of a young boy unknown to me. I did a double-take, then I squinted to figure out what I was seeing.  Because what in the world??

What is he covered in? Dust, ashes? Why is blood smeared over half his little face, matted in his hair and eyelashes? The child sits alone with little hands folded in his lap and with face expressionless. Doctors who treated the boy said that he never cried.

Mahmoud Raslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Mahmoud Raslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Numbly, he looks as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

He is Omran Daqneesh, a five year old victim of an airstrike in his hometown of Aleppo, Syria. His rescuers leave him in an ambulance, where this picture was taken, so that they can save additional children. Relieved, I learn that Omran was treated and released from the hospital with no signs of brain injury.  His parents and 3 siblings reportedly survived as well, pulled from the rubble of their apartment building before it collapsed completely.

The Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer lifesaving organization, saved the family’s life.

Bibars Halabi is the volunteer who carried Omran to the ambulance.

“My heart breaks for Omran but people need to know this happens everyday,” said Halabi, “This time it was just caught on camera.”

As I search for articles about Omran and his family, I learn that Aleppo, their hometown, has been in the news for years. Part of the Syrian city has been held by rebel groups since 2012 with the recent government siege, backed by Russian air power, cutting off many supply routes. As vital necessities diminish, humanitarian aid is blocked.

More than 6,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed or injured in 80 consecutive days of fighting in Aleppo.

I have never heard of Aleppo. I’m grieved by this. I didn’t know that just last week, the remaining 15 doctors in the city of 300,000 sent a letter to President Obama to appeal for intervention so that medical supplies and food can offer relief to the suffering civilians.

Honestly, I can’t understand or explain the Syrian civil war, although I know that millions have fled for their lives, but for most of them and for those still in Syria, there is nowhere to go.

I remember it’s been almost a year since the world was shocked by the image of Aylan, a Syrian boy whose drowned body was recovered off the shores of Turkey.

But then, well, I forgot …

“I hope the world will learn something from it,” said Aylan’s father who also lost his wife and another son when their dinghy capsized as they tried to flee Syria. “I hope this people will be helped, that these massacres are stopped. We are human beings, just like Westerners.”

Every child is a divine appointment ~ Wess Stafford

Aylan and Omran – yes, you are human beings, divine appointments, made in the image of God, held in His heart and precious in His sight. So much more than another victim caught on camera. My heart is filled with remorse and regret for the way I forgot you. I didn’t pray. I guess I reasoned that the situation in your home country is “complicated” and “political” and I didn’t know how to pray. That’s garbage for an excuse.

I am so sorry. Omran, if your precious little face looks numb to suffering, perhaps it’s because my heart has been numb to your suffering. May this day conclusively close the door on my ignorance, apathy, forgetting.

Reader and friend, if you are like me, perhaps you also find it overwhelming to articulate the tremendous needs in our hurting world as you try to pray. May we remember that the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it.

May we simply and humbly and faithfully come and choose to not forget.

Together, let us hold every Aylan and Omran in our hearts and trust that God receives our prayers for

– peace and for protection over the innocents caught in the crossfire

– a ceasefire so that aid can be delivered to the suffering

– safe places for the vulnerable

– material support to flow abundantly

– courageous volunteers like Halabi and the 15 doctors who are risking their lives for every Omran.

– the Christ-followers to stand firm in their faith and serve as the hands and feet of Jesus to their neighbors in Syria and refugee camps

– their suffering to be redeemed by His goodness and glory

– all of us, a call to action in giving and praying and remembering.

We can all do something. Thank you for reading and remembering with me.

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” Max Lucado

If you can share any additional prayer points or ways to help, please include in the comments.

“I believe that now more than ever, Jesus is leading His church into the margins of our world, where the suffering is greatest and expressions of His love are most needed.” Richard Stearns, President of World Vision

Where is the Church? by Steve Haas of World Vision. In this article, you can find and download the free guide, “Understanding the Syria Crisis and the Role of the Church”

World Vision International

Open Doors

World Relief Disaster Response

The (Bloody) Face of Violence in Syria

Compassion International –

Aylan Kurdi: The Power of One Child

Doctors Without Borders

News sources:

Also – from Ann Voskamp, September 2015 – Dear Alyan



Author: Renee Ratcliffe


6 thoughts on “The value of one divine appointment

  1. Wow, I’m at a loss for words. I will pray.

  2. Oh, Renee, thank you for the reminder to not ‘steel’ ourselves against the pain, the unbearable images. But to be hurt, to be saddened, to beg relief for these that are lost. How long O Lord will this suffering continue? Can you please come back and redeem all these ashes. In Jesus Name, Amen

  3. Hey Renee from Lexington, SC ! I have been praying (on my hands and knees with my tears flooding everything around me) since August 18th (the first day when I read/saw about little Omran) for Omran. My heart simply aches and feels so very broken and sad for Omran. I, like you, haven’t kept up with the Syrian War and until Omran I didn’t even know about Aylan. I have been trying to keep up with Omran’s well being everyday since. I did read a TIME post Friday that shares a play-by-play of the people who rescued him. The nurse that helped him in the M10 hospital has since visited him and taken him toys (and she saw him smiling). Much of what you blogged, I also too have been thinking/asking/questioning. I was so emotionally overwhelmed that I emailed my pastor about “How to Pray” and “What is My Part”. He gave insights similar to what you have here. Thank you for writing this! I needed to read this today as I searched this morning (before SS began) about how to pray for Omran. Your blog with this post popped up. I have currently been in prayer for God to send someone to teach Omran about Jesus. I pray that He sends Omran and his family someone that will teach the love, hope, and grace of Jesus to them.
    I have never been so consumed with this type of horrific sadness. It’s unimaginable to me that somehow in the world in which we live, where new inventions for making things work better and faster are made and designed daily, we can’t seem to find ways to end conflict peacefully or in nonviolent ways. I am getting the bigger picture. I have also found legitimate organizations in which to make contributions that will directly go to those helping the civilians of Aleppo.
    So thank you for adding to my prayer list of things that I can be praying about for Omran. Today I needed to read this. Thank you.

    • Melissa, I am so thankful that you took the time to read and write this comment. I am especially grateful to know that you are standing faithfully and passionately in prayer for Omran and the people of Aleppo/Syria. Yes – let’s pray that God sends someone to bless Omran’s family in Jesus’ Name and that their lives will be forever changed – here on earth and through eternity. Thank you, thank you for being someone who pushes back the darkness. Your light will shine, making a difference for God’s glory! So glad to meet you as a sister in Christ and a prayer warrior.

      • Yes! I’m commited to praying (without ceasing) for Omran. If you find other ways to help or more ways in which we can pray please share. I’m desperate to help be that agent of change for him and other children who in Aleppo. I know this isn’t the first time civilians have been affected by war (WWI and WWII, etc) but this is the first time (in my adult age) that this burden has been placed on my heart. I’m seeking His face, His will daily. I’m seeking my part.

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