Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Jun 19
2020

Upcoming Opportunities to Pray With Us

Global Issues, Prayer | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Pastoral Note

Friends,

With so much happening in our world, I’ve been meditating on Philippians 4:5b-7, as a reminder to take my anxieties to God in prayer:

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This passage has a remarkable anchor: The Lord is at hand. It is because God is personal, loving, and near to us that we can cast our cares on him and receive the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. The instruction for us is simple: in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. In other words, we are to pray—especially in response to our anxieties.

Today, June 19th, commemorated as Juneteenth, is the anniversary of the effective end of slavery in the US. 155 years later, much has changed, but we continue to lament ongoing racial injustice. We yearn to see people of all nations, from all tribes and peoples and languages, come to know and treasure the gospel of Jesus Christ. And while we wait for Christ’s return, we cry out with all creation to be set free from our bondage to decay and await the fulfillment of our adoption as sons of God.

In the midst of a global pandemic, and with ongoing racial tensions in the US and political unrest in our city that doesn’t know the Savior, there is much to pray for. Consider praying with us in any or all of these upcoming opportunities:

  • Saturday, June 20th, at 4PM: The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is hosting “A Night of Lament for Racial Justice”, a guided time of prayer and singing that will be simulcast on multiple platforms. Learn more…
  • Monday, June 22nd, at 7PM: Seattle area pastors will be gathering publicly as followers of Jesus to affirm the inherent dignity and value of all people, especially those in the black community who have been historically marginalized and oppressed. In solidarity, we will fast and pray together for unity in our city as we speak from Scripture. Churches are invited to join in person at Gasworks Park, or pray with us remotely. If you’re interested in attending with us, please email me at justin@downtowncornerstone.org.
  • Sunday, June 28th, at 5PM: DCC’s corporate Prayer Night, hosted via videoconferencing, will be an evening of prayer, scripture, and song, asking our Father to do what only He can do in our lives, our church, in our city and the world. Learn more…
  • Anytime: We are encouraging our body to get out and pray for Seattle, alone or in small socially distanced groups, praying for the welfare of our city from Isaiah 59:14-16. See our prayer walking guide for more details on how to join us in this.

Let’s continue to come before the Lord in humble dependence together.

Blessings,
Pastor Justin

Jun 8
2020

Engaging Conversations on Race with DCC

Community, Global Issues, Prayer | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Pastoral Note

Friends,

Recent events highlighting ongoing racial injustice have moved many to want to learn and act positively to address racism and injustice from a biblical perspective. To that end, we want to continue facilitating meaningful, faithful, and loving discussion with each other, while encouraging one another toward Gospel-centered action.

As Christians, we know that every human is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), who is the source of human value and dignity. Yet, we live in a fallen world, marred by the sin of racism, that devalues others on the basis of their skin color.

In American history, this has tragically led to ongoing violence and inequality for African Americans and other minorities—which is not the way it will be in heaven (Rev. 7:9), not the way God desires it to be on earth (Ps. 37:28), nor in his church (James 2:1-13).

Therefore, we’re bringing together a number of opportunities this summer to help us engage in these issues with others in DCC. Our hope in these sometimes difficult conversations is to draw close to one another in love, founded in our unity in Christ, in order that we may live out the commandments to love one another (John 13:34) and to be salt and light to our city (Matt. 5:13-16)—a testimony to the world around us of God’s love and his power at work among us.

Here are four practical steps you can take with us:

#1 PRAY

Flowing from our recent day of fasting and prayer, we are encouraging our body to get out and pray for Seattle. Our desire is to see our people gather in groups of 5 or so walking the streets and neighborhoods where they live with one goal—pray for the welfare of that place you live, from Isaiah 59:14-16. See our prayer walking guide for more details on how to join us in this!

#2 DISCUSS

This Sunday, June 14th, we’re hosting an event called the UNDIVIDED Forum, which will be a chance to open God’s word and discuss with others the biblical call toward racial reconciliation, especially within the church. Read more and register HERE.

#3 READ

This summer, I will be hosting a book discussion of Divided by Faith (a look at why the church in America is racially divided) followed by United by Faith (a look at multi-ethnic churches as a solution). If you’re interested in joining this book discussion, please email me at justin@downtowncornerstone.org

#4 CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION

We’ve created the Racial Reconciliation group on Church Center as a place for us to post content, discuss topics of race, and share opportunities to take action together. Read more and join HERE.

Let’s continue to pursue mercy and justice as we love and pray for one another in all humility, gentleness, and patience.

Blessings,
Pastor Justin

Jun 4
2020

A Prayer of Lament

Global Issues, Prayer

A Prayer of Lament

On Sunday, May 31st, we took some time during our morning gathering to pray and lament over the events that have taken place in the last several weeks in our nation and in our city. Below is the prayer that was prayed by Pastor David, and which we wanted to make available, as we continue to grieve and process the unfolding events in the days and weeks to come.

____________

Father, many of us are coming to you this morning with very heavy, burdened, fatigued, sorrowful, lamenting, frustrated, and maybe even angry hearts.

It has been a rough week, really a rough few weeks—especially for many of our minority brothers and sisters—as we again see and feel the weight and brokenness of this world on full display.

From the heartbreaking and gut-wrenching videos of murder we witnessed in the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, to peaceful protests for justice being hijacked for the destruction of our city and many cities around the country, to the ongoing pandemic and the racial targeting of our Asian-American brothers and sisters…

Lord, we can’t even open up our phones, turn on the TV, or even step outside some of our doors, without being reminded of the brokenness of sin in our world.

And if we’re honest, we’re tempted maybe to emotionally shut down, throw in the proverbial towel, and look for a way of escape.

And yet Lord, we know this season is not a surprise to you. In fact, you tell us in your word, that because of sin there will be “men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” and are filled with every kind of “evil, greed, depravity…envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice” (Rom. 1:18, 28-29).

And our hearts cry out with the Psalmist, “How long, O’ Lord?!” (Ps. 13)

  • Father, our hearts long for restoration, for your redemption, and for your justice and righteousness to prevail.
  • We long to see an end to the racial violence that continues to separate our country and our world.
  • We long to see leaders, politicians, and those placed in power, rule with justice and equity.
  • We long to see your justice prevail in the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many many more.
  • Father, we know, deep down, that what we ultimately long for is you!

And this season is a stark reality, that there is no hope in this world apart from you.

There is no hope for the human heart, except for it to be radically transformed by your grace.

So Father, our hearts grieve and lament. We lament, because our world is not as it should be.

And we lament because we are not what we should be.

And yet, this we call to mind, and therefore we have hope…“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:23-24)

And we know that hope in you is not a vague feeling that we “hope things will one day get better”, but a confident expectation that your Gospel is big enough to heal the brokenness of the human heart.

It is big enough to free us from our own biases, our own blind spots, our own indifference, our own self-righteousness, our own unrighteous anger—and ultimately our rejection of you as Savior and Lord of our life.

So, Lord, we come humbly to you this morning and ask:

  • That you would comfort the black community that is hurting right now—whether that be in and through us as a church, or other churches in Seattle, or and maybe most of all, by and through your Spirit. Remind them that you see them, you know their hurt, their concerns, and their pain. And as Psalms 23 reminds us, that even though we go through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with us, and your rod and your staff comfort us.
  • That you would bring comfort to the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, as they are deeply grieving right now. We ask that you would help them see that you are their ultimate vindication.
  • For repentance, salvation, and justice for the officers and others involved in these killings.
  • For wisdom for Minneapolis, Seattle, and other city leaders around the country. We ask that you would allow them to rule and lead with wisdom, equity, and justice, and that those in positions of authority would fight for reform where needed. And we ask that you would carefully guide every person involved in the judicial process of all of these cases—so that truth and justice would prevail.
  • That you would give us a deep love and empathy for our neighbors. That we wouldn’t write all this off as political, but be willing to listen and learn. Be willing to hear and console, and be willing to encourage and exhort.
  • That you would make us a bold people, who are willing to stand for truth, stand for justice, and stand with those who are oppressed—not because we’re supposed to, but because we love our neighbor.
  • For other area churches and pastors who are already knee-deep in pastoring through a pandemic, we ask that you would help them love and lead their people well this morning; that you would give them wisdom in their words, to point everyone back to you as the ultimate answer to the deepest problems we are faced with.
  • And finally Lord, we ask that you would protect the unity of the Church, our church, and not let another gospel of nationalism, personal autonomy, good deeds, activism, or even altruism, to strip the true Gospel of its Saving power.

Lord, we long for the day, where you tell us in Revelation, that your work will come to an end. Where there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more death, no more racism, no more injustice, no more Covid-19, no more suffering… and where there will be perfect peace.

God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule.

Until then, Father, protect us from wanting the Kingdom without the King. Protect us from not caring about the plight of our neighbors who are lost without you, and help us keep our eyes fixed on you.

Make us teachable and willing to learn, Keep us humble. Give us eyes to see, and ears to hear, the truths that free us from bondage to sin, and give us life in you.

And we pray all these things, in your name, the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Jun 3
2020

A Call To A 24-Hour Fast

Community, Global Issues, Prayer | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Pastoral Note

Friends,

We are living amidst tumultuous times (e.g. ongoing racial injustice, protesting, violent rioting, exploitive looting, a once-in-a-century-pandemic, near record-level unemployment, deep political divisions, an inability to gather as a church, in addition to the every day trials and temptations of our personal lives) and one vital means of grace the Lord has given to his church amidst such storms is fasting and prayer.

Therefore, I am writing to invite you to join the elders in a 24-hour food fast (fasting from food, but not water) beginning tonight after dinner, Wednesday, June 3rd, and lasting up till dinner tomorrow, Thursday, June 4th (i.e. skip breakfast and lunch on June 4th).

If protests are an appeal to earthly powers, fasting is an appeal to the Highest Power. Peaceful protests and calls for justice are good, right, and have their place. But, only the power and presence of God can bring about the nature of changes that are most deeply needed in our city. That means, we must pray.

Ask yourself: Am I seeking God’s face with the same intensity by which I am seeking to remedy the injustices of the world? Does the heat of my prayer life out-do the heat of my protests? Does my pleading with God out-weigh my pleading with others? Does my virtue signaling signal that God is my highest virtue? If not, we must pray.

Racism, violence, and injustice are demonic at their core (Eph. 2:2-3; 6:12f), not earthly, and a spiritual cause requires a spiritual solution. Therefore, while there are many things we could do, the one thing we must do is pray.

One of the primary ways to bring focus to our prayers is to fast. The purpose of fasting is to express absolute dependence on God. It is a way to say to God, “This much, O God, we need you! We are not self-sufficient, but entirely dependent. We can’t sort this out on our own. You must act if anything is to change!” As such, fasting is always coupled with prayer as you allow every hunger pang to highlight your need for God.

Over these 24-hours, and beyond, let’s pray…

  1. That God would unexpectedly show up in His saving, life-changing, and heart-transforming power, in Jesus. That His local churches would be innocent and wise (Mt. 10:16), being salt and light in their spheres of influence (Mt. 5:13-16), and communities of love that shock the city (Jn. 13:35). That the gospel would be clear and central. That the unifying power of the gospel would be displayed in His reconciled, multi-ethnic people who are bound together by the Spirit, which is stronger than blood, as local embassies of the kingdom to come.
  2. That justice would prevail, especially in favor of communities of color. These recent events are not isolated, but are part of a long, unbroken string that stretches back hundreds of years. Shockwaves of past injustices continue to ring out into the present. Let’s seek to be a force for good, because we are gospel people. Further, let’s pray that earthly justice would not end there, but ultimately lead to gospel revival and renewal, and true reconciliation, throughout our city. Let’s pray that this city-wide desire for justice would lead those of our city to Jesus, the only purely Just One.
  3. That city, state and national leadership would have wisdom. These are complex times. Let’s ask our gracious God to grant favor, wisdom and mercy to decision-makers. Let’s pray that our leaders, and upright police officers, to humbly love truth, walk in the light, and leverage their positions of influence for good, not harm. They are under tremendous pressure and are finite, like us, so may God grant them mercy.
  4. That we would learn to depend and do good amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This disease continues to kill people every day, plunder the economy, promote personal despair, and prevent Jesus’ people from gathering. Let’s pray this season will come to an end soon. That we would learn the lessons He has for us to learn. That our hope and joy, in Him, would not waver. That we’d have spiritual eyes to see how He is moving around us, so that we can join Him in that work.

Joining with you, in fasting and prayer. Let’s pursue Him together.

With you, in Christ, for the sake of the world—
Pastor Adam

P.S. If you are unable to fast for medical reasons, or your schedule does not allow you to participate on the dates above, please feel the freedom to adjust the type or length of fast you practice and/or the dates on which you practice it.

May 15
2020

Longing for Justice in a World Gone Mad

Community, Global Issues, News | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Downtown Cornerstone,

By now you’ve seen the news of the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020, outside Brunswick, Georgia. Travis McMichael, and his father, attempted to make an armed citizen’s arrest of Ahmaud, who they believed was involved in a string of residential burglaries, while he was jogging unarmed. However, an altercation ensued and Ahmaud was shot two times in the chest, resulting in his death. Since the victim was an unarmed African American and the assailants were armed white men this is understandably seen as another sad episode of racial violence in our nation’s history. Additionally, the fact it took three months for the McMichael’s to be charged has rightly raised significant questions about the just handling of this case by local authorities.

So, what are we to do with this news?

FIRST, WE MUST LAMENT

Regardless of the details, this is another deeply troubling manifestation of a world groaning under the weight of sin. This world is not as it should be—it hasn’t been since the fall (Gen. 3) and it won’t be until Jesus returns (Rev. 20-22). Relationships break down. Words are wielded to wound. Power is abused. Sexuality is distorted. Biases exploit. Emotions manipulate. Violence reigns. Justice is perverted. Unarmed joggers, made in the image of God, are shot in broad daylight. Unfortunately, this isn’t new; this is as old as humanity itself. It is right to long for justice amidst a world gone mad.

So, how are we to cope? The Bible’s answer is, in part, to lament. A lament is a passionate expression of grief and sorrow to God. The Psalms are filled with such laments (e.g. Psalm 12, 22, 44, 88). In fact, an entire book of the Bible is called Lamentations, which laments the fall of Jerusalem to foreign invaders. To lament is to express your pain, your struggles, your doubts, and your unresolved questions to God. Start with lament by directing your pain Godward.

SECOND, WE MUST MOURN

The historical relationship between whites and blacks in our country is filled with unconscionable violence and unspeakable injustice. That history serves as an important backdrop for how events, such as this, are perceived. From one angle, this situation could look like an over-zealous attempt-gone-wrong to protect your neighborhood. But, from another angle, it looks like yet another incident of a young unarmed black man who is killed without due process (e.g. Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, et. al.). Was race a factor? We don’t know. But, it certainly doesn’t appear that ‘black lives matter’ when it takes three months and a public video release for the wheels of justice to get set in motion.

Regardless of the details, we must mourn with those who mourn (Rom. 12:15). Not every minority or African American processes such incidents in the same way—just like anyone else. After all, suffering isn’t monolithic. But, we can still mourn that such situations continue to be a reality. We can mourn that some may wonder if they’ll be ok if they go out for a jog. We can mourn that some little boys and girls grow up wondering how they’ll be treated in a majority context. To every African American, we express profound pain and sorrow with you. We join you in this time of mourning and stand with you.

THIRD, WE MUST LEAN IN

These issues didn’t emerge overnight nor will they quickly go away. So, we must take the long view even as we seek to do as much good as we can today. If we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (which is the second greatest commandment, Mark 12:31) that means we must lean into areas we are unfamiliar with out of love for those who are different from us. As a church we continue to work to create a culture where we can lean into these issues honestly and openly, even amidst our many differences. To do so we continue to write articles, preach sermons, offer classes, and recommend reading. We must lean in together as we seek to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). For example:

ArticleRacism is a Radical Evil
SermonsThe Racism-Crushing GospelA Gospel Forged People in a Divided AgeGod’s New Humanity.
ClassUndividedIdentity Politics and the Death of Christian Unity
Reading: We also recommend reading Divided by Faith and its counterpart, United by Faith.

FOURTH, WE MUST BE PATIENT

It is easy to get caught-up in the emotional and politicized roller coaster of the news cycle. We want to take control. We want to do something. We want justice to prevail. We want leaders to propagate our vision for the world. We want the indifferent to wake up. We want to signal our virtue. We want this fixed now. This must not happen again. Enough, we think, and rightly so. There is much that is good, true and noble about such sentiments.

Yet, if we’re not careful, in our desire for justice, do we become unjust?

In our yearning for peace, do we create division?
In our passion to love, do we become unloving?
In our hope of righting wrongs, do we inadvertently add to them?
In our hunger for justice, are we also hungering for righteousness?
After all, only the poor in spirit, will enter the kingdom (Mt. 5:3)

We must be patient, but patience doesn’t mean passive inactivity. It means prayerful, God-centered, restraint in the face of opposition. It means being quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). Why? “Because the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James. 1:20). To be patient is to love (1 Cor. 13:4). Patience allows time for more answers to arise. Patience gives space for repentance to occur (Rom. 2:4). Patience is more likely to earn us a hearing with others (Pr. 25:15). We must be patient, even as we act.

JUSTICE IS COMING

Friends, let’s continue to humbly submit ourselves to God when we see events like this unfold before us. We know that politics, blogs, and social-shaming can’t ultimately change the human heart. We know that racial utopia is not possible in this life. We’re not naive. But, neither are we paralyzed. The world is in search of answers; we know who He is. While we long for justice in a world gone mad, we know justice is coming (Rom. 12:19).

We are in this city to know Jesus and to make Him known. Let’s build meaningful relationships with others who are different from us. Let’s engage in the discussion with wisdom, tenderness, and courage. Let’s passionately share the heart-changing, all-satisfying good news of Jesus. Together, let’s be a visible, albeit imperfect, local expression of Jesus’ redeemed and reconciled (!) people to a divided world in desperate need of healing hope.

My heart is with you, my prayers are for you,
Christ is all, always.
Pastor Adam

Aug 30
2017

Partnering with Local Churches in Hurricane Harvey Relief

Global Issues, News | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

If you’ve been watching the news you know that Houston, and much of southern Texas, is underwater. Hurricane Harvey, one of the largest storms the state has ever faced, is producing unprecedented rainfall, flooding, and displacement. There was 50 inches of rain (over four feet!) in just a few days and its not over. Harvey is currently hitting land a second time and the water is still rising. Tens of thousands have been displaced, many have lost everything, and the death toll is uncertain. Direct losses are currently estimated to exceed $20billion. Recovery will likely take years in America’s fourth largest city. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only disaster facing us today. Recent floods in India, Bangladesh and Nepal have killed 1,200 and left millions homeless. There was also a mudslide in Sierra Leone where some estimate 1,000 people died. And that is just the last couple weeks. Creation is groaning and we along with it (Rom. 8:19-23). While we can’t help everyone, we can help some. 

As many of you know, we belong to Acts 29, a church planting network. There are over 20 Acts 29 churches in the local Houston area. Some of these churches have been directly impacted by Harvey: homes flooded, property lost, cars washed away, families swimming to safety. Many stories are still surfacing. One Acts 29 church, Clear Creek Community, is leading the way in partnership with the Houston Church Planting Network, to serve the larger community. We want to partner with them in those efforts. 

HOW WE CAN HELP

PRAY

Let’s pray for the unity of Jesus’ Church in the Houston area. Let’s pray for our Acts 29 family as they have a unique opportunity to be good news to their community amidst a terrible disaster. Let’s also pray that Jesus would use this natural catastrophe to bring about a God-saturated, Jesus-centered, Spirit-empowered revival. 

GIVE

As you can expect, finances are the biggest need in this recovery effort. As a church we’re going to contribute $5,000. I have learned that Acts 29, as a network, is giving $50,000. I want to also invite you to personally consider contributing as well. Donations will be used to provide relief and recovery assistance to individuals, families, and churches impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  

Here are four ways to give:

1. You can text keyword HARVEYRELIEF to 51555 and follow prompts to give via credit card. 

2. You can give online at www.clearcreek.org/harveyrelief

3. You can mail a check to:

Clear Creek Community Church 
999 N. Egret Bay Blvd. 
League City, TX 

4. If you would like to wire funds please email trichardson@clearcreek.orgfor instructions.

SERVE

Houston Church Planting Network is compiling a list of churches outside of Houston that may be interested in bringing a team to serve, donating supplies, etc. as the waters recede. If there are any DCC members interested in leading that charge, please let us know. The recovery effort will be a marathon, not a sprint. Those on the ground envision needing support for months to come. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve done something like this as a church and it certainly won’t be the last, unless our Jesus returns. Let’s prayerfully consider how we might be able to serve our extended family in Christ who finds themselves in the path of Harvey, for “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Let’s be a generous people who reflect the generosity of our great and gracious God. 

Christ is all, 

Pastor Adam

Aug 16
2017

Racism is a Radical Evil

Global Issues, News | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Our family just returned from vacation this past weekend. As we did, we watched the horrific scene in Charlottesville, Virginia unfold on Saturday. Many of you saw it. A group of so-called “white nationalists” held a protest that, in turn, spawned a counter-protest. The result? Three dead, at least 34 wounded, and a nation vividly reminded that racial issues remain unresolved in our country. Unfortunately, as we all know, this is not a stand-alone event. 

As Christians, we need to be emphatically clear that all forms of racism, personal or institutional, are radically evil. The essence of racism is discriminating against others based on their race. This discrimination is fueled by a wrongly-held belief in the superiority or inferiority of one race over against another. We need to be clear, however, that this belief is not merely wrong, it’s evil. Racism is sin. 

This is not primarily a political issue. This is primarily a God issue. The Bible reveals that every single human being—young and old, rich and poor, born and unborn, black and white—is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, every single human is equally worthy of dignity, value, and respect as an image-bearer of God. 

The Apostle Paul said, “[God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). The beautiful, diverse, multi-hued tapestry of humanity is God’s idea. Racial distinctiveness is meant to showcase God’s immeasurable creativity and boundless originality. 

Further, we shouldn’t miss that Jesus came as a middle-eastern man. God-incarnate was brown. When He returns again, His redeemed people will be comprised of a countless multitude, “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev. 7:9). In a word, God’s saving purposes in the world, in Jesus, are multi-ethnic. 

In light of all this, the racist ideology of groups such as the KKK, “Alt-right”, “white nationalists”, or others like them, is not merely a matter of poor politics nor bigoted ignorance, but of radical moral evil. Racism is fueled by a heart that has separated the gift of race from the Giver of race and distorted it for its own selfish purposes—and Satan couldn’t be more delighted.

Friends, let’s humbly submit ourselves to God when we see events like this unfold before us. We know that politics, blogs, and social-shaming can’t ultimately change the human heart. We know that racial utopia is not possible in this life. We’re not naive. But, neither are we paralyzed. The world is in search of answers; we know who He is. 

We are in this city to know Jesus and to make Him known. So, let’s ask Jesus to search our hearts and dismantle any residue of racism within. Let’s build meaningful relationships with others who are different from us. Let’s engage in the discussion with wisdom, tenderness, and courage. Let’s passionately share the heart-changing, racism-crushing, all-satisfying good news of Jesus with all who will hear. Together, let’s be a visible, albeit imperfect, local expression of Jesus’ redeemed multi-ethnic people to a divided world in desperate need of help. 

Christ is all, 
Pastor Adam

Oct 1
2015

How do we respond to the Syrian refugee crisis from Seattle?

Global Issues

When heartbreaking pictures and video from halfway around the world begin to appear on the news, in the papers, and even on our Facebook feeds it is hard not to feel a range of emotions. Seeing the haunting images and hearing the stories of the families connected to them often brings emotions of grief, sadness, and even anger. After these emotions often come questions: What can I do? Where do I even start? This problem seems so big…

Within the last couple weeks, we’ve started talking about this as a DCC family, educating ourselves and considering how we can, by God’s grace, respond to this enormous crisis in meaningful ways that glorify Jesus. Let’s dig a little deeper into how we here in Seattle can come alongside refugees both across the globe and right here in our city by Learning, Responding, and Welcoming.

Learn

The 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention defined a refugee as a person who crosses an international border fleeing persecution because of their religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

The Syrian Civil War has been going on for four and a half years. It began with the uprisings and protests of the Arab Spring, and escalated into war between President Bashar al-Assad’s government and multiple rebel groups. ISIS has taken advantage of the chaotic situation to invade and take control of large parts of Syria. The violence has been absolutely devastating for civilians. According to the UNHCR’s latest figures, 7.6 million Syrians are displaced within Syria, and 3.8 million have sought refuge in other countries. After four years of violence, what’s causing the ballooning of the refugee crisis right now? Many Syrians have given up hope that they can outlast the devastation. The breakdown of hope creates a tipping point where people finally make the choice that they must walk away from their homes, their communities, and everything they have ever known if they are to save their lives and their children’s lives. This video by statistician Hans Rosling breaks down where Syrians have fled to as of this summer.

Due to the long vetting process that includes medical checks, several interviews, and intensive background checks, only about 1,500 Syrians have been resettled into the United States so far. I (Megan) work at World Relief Seattle, which is a Christian organization that works to welcome and support refugees who are rebuilding their lives in the Seattle area and connect them to the church and the community. Our office has just been notified that we will receive our first Syrian case this week, and we are preparing for them to come, but are also continually resettling refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and other countries in turmoil.

Our team at World Relief Seattle has been welcoming and resettling refugees in the Seattle area since 1979. Our experience over those years has taught us that we are not meant to do this alone and so we ask local churches and the whole community to partner with us in the work of welcoming and empowering and loving refugees who are arriving in our city weekly.

Respond

When we begin to grasp the magnitude and heartbreak of this crisis, we ask, “But what can we do?” The answer is, “Much.”

Pray – This crisis is big, but we worship a big God. We must cry out to Him to do what only He can do. Let’s pray:

  • that our mighty and loving Prince of Peace, Jesus, would bring His kingdom in Syria and the other major refugee-creating countries through the Gospel and that it would result in shalom in those countries between people and God, and between people and one another.
  • for Christians in Syria, that in the midst of the chaos they would be able to plant and water seeds for the Gospel.
  • that our loving Father God would protect those on dangerous journeys, and that they would be rescued and welcomed.
  • that God would forgive us for how we, as humans, hurt one another, and that He would tear down the dividing walls of hostility between us.
  • that Jesus would help us, as His image-bearers, be those who rescue and welcome and love out of His abundance; that God will continue to break our hearts for what breaks His heart, and that our primary reaction to refugees would always be love and not fear.

Advocate – The President and Congress are considering right now how many refugees we will allow into the U.S. next year. Call your senator and your Congressional representatives to tell them that we want to be a country that welcomes refugees and that you are in support of Syrian resettlement in the U.S. You can also sign the White House petition for the U.S. to resettle more Syrian refugees.

Share – We can share out of what God has richly given us. We can share our money with organizations who are on the ground working really hard with the Syrian and Mediterranean refugee crisis and need our support, such as World Relief, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, and Doctors Without Borders, to name a few. Our World Relief teams in Northern Iraq, Jordan, and soon Turkey are using the funds they are given to provide urgent supplies, trauma therapy, and child-friendly spaces for refugees arriving in mass numbers in those countries. We can also share tangibly with those who are coming to live right here in our own city, as you will see below.

Welcome

Here in the U.S., World Relief and other refugee resettlement agencies work with local churches and the community to welcome tens of thousands of refugees every year. You can come alongside new refugee families in the Seattle area by:

  • hosting families for 1-2 weeks until they are able to transition into an apartment.
  • renting directly to refugee individuals or families in need of safe, affordable places to live.
  • donating furniture or household items to furnish apartments for refugee families.
  • using your networks to connect refugee men and women of all different backgrounds and skills to their first job opportunities in the U.S.
  • practicing English and building relationships with refugees students in ESL classes
  • being a friend. Our goal at World Relief is to match every family with an American volunteer who will commit to just being their friend for at least their first six months in the country.

What if every single refugee who comes to rebuild their life in the Seattle area
had a Jesus-follower as their first friend in the U.S.?

There will be a training for volunteers who wish to come alongside new refugee families in partnership with World Relief on Sunday, October 18th from 1:30-4:00 pm at Quest Church – 1401 NW Leary Way, Seattle, WA 98107. If you want to come, please RSVP to Scott at sellis@wr.org by October 15th. You can email him for more information or check out the Facebook event.

I love you, DCC family, and am happy to help you in any way I can as you consider how God might be inviting you to join His work of loving and welcoming refugee families for His glory.

“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by human hands) – remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” Ephesians 2:11-18

By Megan Kennedy (DCC member and World Relief ESL Program Coordinator) with help from Scott Ellis (World Relief Volunteer Coordinator)