A couple of weeks ago, on a hot July Saturday, thousands of people—mostly young people—gathered on the National Mall to pray, to worship and to acknowledge that Jesus can change anything and everything.
Psalm 133:1 says “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” I was honored to join this group as we asked God to “reset 2016.” We prayed and worshipped across the street from the White House. It was impossible to ignore our voices.
But even as I lent my voice to worship and to cry out to God this past weekend, I feel compelled, as the Proverbs say, to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” As thousands gathered in peace and safety we heard from Suud, a refugee from Somalia, who now advocates for other refugees.
There are 21.3 million refugees, half of whom are children and many of whom are brothers and sisters, with no home, no stability, and no hope. The crises that typically create refugees last about 26 years and nearly 34,000 people are forced to flee their homes because of conflict each day.
That means that millions of children will grow up never knowing peace or safety, never having the stability that we take for granted: education, jobs, a place to call home. In Christian circles, we talk a lot about Jeremiah 29:11, about God giving us a hope and a future. These kids face the prospect of no hope and no future in this life, because while they’re living in these camps, they can’t get an education. Their parents can’t get jobs.
But we don’t have to let today’s crises steal these kids’ futures.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the source of spiritual peace and safety. We believe that it’s with the broken-hearted, with the least of these that Jesus can be found. We want these refugees to find refuge in Jesus. But we also know that we are called, like Jesus, to be with and to serve the most vulnerable. In this case, serving the most vulnerable includes speaking out for the millions whose voices are drowned out in political debates, in fearful cries for protection, and in media misrepresentation.
For these kids, who have no say in their future.
Now that we’ve prayed for a “reset,” I want to ask the question: reset to what? Now that the music has stopped and the crowds have dispersed, what will happen next? In the face of such a huge crisis, it’s easy to feel voiceless and powerless. But we do have a voice and, through Christ, we can find the strength.
On that hot Saturday in July, our cries to God were amplified because they were unified. Our prayer was for a reset. Our hearts must be reset to love and care for what God loves and cares for: “justice and righteousness on the earth” (Jeremiah 9:24). Let’s continue to lift our voices to God and ask for the courage, wisdom, and strength to remind those in power and those seeking power to remember the most vulnerable.
We had the opportunity to let God reset our apathy into empathy. Though we have now dispersed, let’s remember that we still have the opportunity not only to cry out to God, but to advocate for the most vulnerable. And you should, too. May God reset our hearts so that we can go forth into the world to love and serve the Lord.
David Crowder is an American Christian musician.
Editor’s Note: Together 2016 worked with groups like The ONE Campaign, World Relief, and Save the Children to work toward real solutions, for what is surely not a temporary crisis.