A church with campuses and congregations throughout the world, Hillsong has long had an awareness of – and a heart for responding to – global issues. Here, International Ministry Director Darren Kitto shares what inspires Hillsong to believe it can and must make a difference for the people of Syria.
Alan Kurdi, Omran Daqneesh, Bana Alabed; children whose images and stories have inundated our social media accounts and filled our news broadcasts … They truly are the faces of this Middle East crisis.
It is a crisis – six years in the making – that is destroying an entire generation of children; engulfing the most vulnerable as they try to flee to safety.
For us here in Australia, it is difficult to imagine what it must be like for these children; some who have spent their entire lives in a war. We know that many have had to move over and over again, trying to find a safe place. Many also have no access to schooling or no secure place to sleep. Their parents are terrified for their lives and children are seeing things no child should ever have to see.
In the case of little Alan Kurdi, we know this search for safety ended in tragedy – as it has for so many other children. For us, watching from afar, it can seem like it is impossible to make a difference in this situation … But we have a mantra in our church that says “we can't do everything but we MUST do something”.
In response, over the past two years our church has received offerings around Christmastime for the Syria Crisis Appeal. As we have taken up these offerings, we have seen the overwhelming generosity of our church and people who have truly made the decision to sacrifice so that they might share with those who have nothing. This year, we were also able to mobilise our global church family and it was incredible to see our smaller church campuses – even those that are in war zones themselves – give generously to this appeal as well.
Often a humanitarian crisis that goes on for this long can be a hard “sell”, given that everyone has heard the stories for so many years and can easily become immune to the faces on their screens. As a church, however, we believe we must rise above this potential apathy, remembering that all of these precious children are image bearers of our Saviour and as Jesus said, "whatever you do for the least of these you do for me”.
As the Church, we can't just watch and pray; we must take action to protect, support and help.