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.
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”
Compassion International –
Also – from Ann Voskamp, September 2015 – Dear Alyan