Photo by Caleb Robinson
On the day after the attack on OSU’s campus by a Somali Muslim student, the world is a bit tilted today. Sometimes the hardest places to see Christ at work is right here at home. On Saturday OSU was on a national stage, winning their double overtime victory against the University of Michigan; on Monday morning the campus was on lockdown and blood was running in the street. So maybe there is shock, and maybe life goes on as usual even here, the day after terrorism hits Columbus.
And there could be fear; there could be disbelief. Maybe we would all like to just pack it up and close it in and pull the curtains tight and pretend that this isn’t happening and it isn’t real and maybe we can just Merry Christmas our way through this. But fear is never overcome with escapism. And anger that leads to violence is never overcome with more violence. And hatred is never overcome with hate. The only way we ever overcome evil is with good. And fear is only ever cast out with Perfect Love. There are those who would preach radical hate that leads to radical destruction. But for those of us who name the name of Christ, we could be those who preach radical love that leads to radical healing, and maybe that is the only way through all this palatable dark.
The truth is that Columbus is a city abounding with immigrants and internationals. The Ohio State University brings in people from 120 nations, people whose beliefs are different from mine and yours. People who are here sometimes for only a short time to study, get a degree, and return to their home nation. It is easy to fear what you don’t understand. It is easy to fear what is different from you. It is easy to run and hide from the fear of what if. But in volunteering with internationals through International Friendships, for over eight years, this is what I have found, they are really not so different from me.
I have looked into eyes of an immigrant Muslim mama and seen her aching humanity. She and I are both college educated women, we both heard a passel of small children, and we both think parenting is the hardest/best job ever. We both want our babies to wake up safe every morning and go to sleep fed every night. We both like coffee and we both have toddlers that run wild like so many wandering goats on a Middle Eastern hillside. She and I both talk about our faiths and we both listen respectfully. We both want to be loved and learn to give love better. And at the end of the day I call her, friend.
Fear is easy, loving well is not. Anger and hatred can rise up quickly like a tidal wave but I believe, that so can radical love. For those of us who call ourselves Christians, who say that we follow Christ, maybe the best way that we can walk in His footsteps is by loving our enemies or those we are afraid might be. What if the day after this crisis in our city, we were the First Responders. What if we responded to an outpouring of fear with an outpouring of love? What if we responded to an outpouring of anger with an outpouring of peace that passes all understanding. What if we ran in when everyone else was running out and loved like we really lived what we believed? What if we really loved like that? We can.
We can care. We can pray for peace and unity in our city. We can reach out when we would rather pull in. We live in a city where internationals abound and what if practiced hospitality and loved them right into our homes and into our families and where we offered hope and shelter and love right where they are? We can.
If you live in the Columbus area there is an amazing organization called International Friendships that exists to share the love of Christ through Christian hospitality and love. You can get involved by praying, by giving, by volunteering, by starting a friendship with a student from another culture and letting love lead the way. We can sit back in shock and say this is all a shame or we can be the first to run into the fire and find ourselves ignited with a radical love that can shake the nations, mend hearts, bring reconciliation. We could be the church we were meant to be. We can love the world from right where we are and this is right where we were meant to be.
Today on #Giving Tuesday if you give to support International Friendships, your gift is tripled today. If you want to do something to impact the Ohio State University for the better and reach out to international students with the love of God, this is for you. There is hope in the hardest places because the love of God knows no boundaries.