Written by Leif Proctor
After getting off the bus, I walked through the mud with the rest of my team to meet the camp’s leader. Beautiful snow-capped mountains dissected the grey sky, and the sounds of laughter and foreign words I could not understand chimed in my ears. Something suddenly stood out to me; it was the sight of children, all barefoot, sharing one flip flop to wear. The entire experience was wildly unfamiliar and at first very overwhelming. This is just the beginning of the story from my mission trip in the spring of 2019 at the Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon. For those who have seen poverty to this extent with their own eyes, I think you can recall a similar feeling. But if you haven’t yet had this kind of an experience, it’s difficult to put into words, and I know that I can’t fully describe it to you. However, as my focus went from Mount Hermon and the road to Damascus in the distance to the Arabic children holding my hands and smiling up at me, all I can say is that my heart broke.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). This Bible verse helps me best grasp what I wanted to share with you, and the reason it’s so relevant is because it speaks directly to the lesson God gave me through this short but powerful experience. Faced with these poverty-stricken children all around me, I was instantly worried for them. I also realized in that particular moment that growing up ‘poor’ in the United States was actually wealthy in comparison to many places like this in the world. I immediately wanted to do everything in my power to help them. Unfortunately, the reality was that we were quite powerless and humbled by the lack of tangible aid and support we could offer in the week we spent there. That knowledge brought me to my knees later, asking Jesus in prayer why He would let this happen; why I was so privileged and yet these people were going through such hardship. My life looked so luxurious in comparison. The result of that prayer was a passion for the Gospel, for missions, and for loving others in a way I hadn’t dreamt of before. And even more than that, I received the blessing and comfort of knowing that each person living in the Lebanese tent city is in the Lord’s hands; that He has a good plan for them beyond what I could ever do on my own. I won’t necessarily ever get to see the end result of His plans but I have the hope and trust that God will bring them to life. Overall, I was delivered from my entitled thinking and the belief that I deserved anything I owned, and I learned instead to be thankful for everything I have. Most importantly, I am thankful for the precious gift of Christ. Through Him, I have everything I need.