Dear Bana & the Kids in Aleppo…
When we heard that you’re eating grass, and garbage… that there’s only a few days left till your starvation… while we were all swollen with how much turkey and cranberry and pumpkin pie we ate this past weekend — we all needed to come find you and look you in the eye.
When you, Bana, you tweeted to the world what you’re seeing through your little seven-year-old eyes, and we read what you typed: “Last message – under heavy bombardments now, can’t be alive anymore. When we die, keep talking for 200,000 still inside,” we hardly breathed and we needed to hold out our hands to you.
The anger of this world cannot and will not make us deaf to the cries of our children.
And then when you tweeted, Bana, that you lived through the 100 bombs that drop like death’s open jaws from the sky over the Syrian city of Aleppo every single day, tweeted that you lived: “Tonight we have no house, it’s bombed & I got in rubble. I saw deaths and I almost died” — the world knew then, Bana:The world is willing to die to some comfort so that the children of Aleppo can live.
Because the world heard you howling that you don’t want to die.
That it isn’t time for you to die just yet.
The same stars that we all sleep under — do they hear your cries too? Do the stars hear better than the world does?
Do they hear how you whimper through the nights, listening for the warplanes growling low enough to devour your dreams, your believing, the last brave beat of your one hoping heart.
And you know that it’s the letter writing time of the year? The world writing letters about all the things that we want — gizmos and gadgets and presents underneath the tree — but it’s your letter to the world that we can’t stop stop hear ringing like an aching in all our ears.
The letter where you, the people of Aleppo, ask the world what good is the United Nations when the children in one nation are dying — because the people of the world won’t unite in believing there aren’t other peoples children, only all of our children.
The letter where you, the people of Aleppo, ask the world what good is human rights laws when there are humans living where everything is going holocaust wrong.
The letter where you, the people of Aleppo, look straight into the camera and straight-up beg the world:
“For almost six years — during which more than 500,000 people have died — we have wondered what the world was doing. Don’t look back years from now and wish that you can do something; you can still.”
We can still, Bana, we can still, Children of Aleppo — we can light candles this Advent and know there is something we can do still in the midst of this holocaust of bombs and besiegement and brokenness.
Because this is the time of year where we prepare room, where we make room, where there’s enough room in our hearts to believe in the glorious impossible.
There’s enough room for all of you Children of Aleppo to not be wiped from the face of the earth because of our indifference, our apathy, our warring desecration of each other.There’s enough room in our hearts to not be consumed by more stuff but be consumed by more caring.
Because the world can’t afford to lose you, Bana, and Children of Aleppo.
We can’t afford to lose the music only you can make, the ideas only you can have, the inventions and dreams and hope the world can only be if we do whatever it takes to keep you with us here and from the relentless hound of death and it’s screaming bombs.
We’re a busted up, broken mess over the war that you were born into, smoke filling the air over Aleppo from the moment you first inhaled this warring world into your lungs.
We’re shattered that for all of your short years in this huge home that we call the world, you’ve only known death and destruction, you’ve only known fleeing and running and everywhere, closed doors.
We could have done better, Bana, and the Children of Aleppo.
You’re begging us all to do better now.
We’re sorry. We’re all sick with sorry.
It may be nauseatingly hard for us all to look at that photos of your bloodied bodies, Children of Aleppo —- but, this Christmas, you’re seared into all of our collective hearts, because the undeniable truth of it is: We can turn a blind eye to the needy all we want, but it could have turned out that we were the needy.
The whole world murmurs our repentant beckoning, Children of Aleppo: We are with you, Aleppo, we are with you. #WithAleppo
Why — in the name of Almighty God — could we believe that Emmanuel, God is with us — and that God doesn’t want to be with them?
How in God’s name can there be distance or indifference between the children of God?
If it’s only by abundant grace that any of us are here — and there’s abundant grace for us — then, by God, there’s abundant grace for all of us.There’s always enough hope because dreams always last longer than the dark.
And there’s always Love enough, hope enough, God enough, to fight all the dark. This is what the stars all know.
And this is what drives us to our pens and our phones and our keyboards, Bana and Children of Aleppo, to ask lawmakers to listen, to ask the world to see, that causes us to all link arms in brave ways, to band together and say World, open the way for aid, open the roads for a way, The Way, open all our hearts to grab hands and stand with the children of Aleppo.
Because this we believe:
‘With-ness breaks brokenness.
That’s why Emmanuel came — the one whose very name is God with us — because with-ness breaks brokenness.‘ (~ excerpt from The Broken Way)
So the people of the world stand #WithAleppo — because there are dreams enough for this dark, there is light enough for this dark, there hope enough coming even now for you.
The people of the world stand #WithAleppo — because there is no bureaucracy or excuse or reason that can render us impotent, that can paralyze us in helping the wild-eyed or the littlest because people of all faiths know a Love that is infinite.
The people of the world stand #WithAleppo — because now is when we’re string up lights and we’re committed to bringing Light into this world because the Light came for all of us — you believe us, Bana and Children of Aleppo, right?
The people of all faiths stand #WithAleppo — because now is when we sing along with the radio, Joy to the Word… and… Come, O Come Emmanuel… we don’t just believe these things, but we live these things — you believe us, Children, right?
Because, Children of Aleppo, you are our family who live in our home that’s called the world and why don’t you get joy too and doesn’t Emmanuel mean to come to be with you too, through each of us — and Love isn’t some impossible theory to us but the theology we’re actually called to incarnate.
So people of the world, of all faiths, stand #WithAleppo and call on our governments to take action at an international level, including in the UN General Assembly, to provide practical support to facilitate the delivery of aid to the civilians and children of Aleppo.
Because even if this is what is written on leaflets that are being airdropped on the children of Aleppo:
The world needs to tell Aleppo — this is not true. We have not left Aleppo to their doom. And we do offer our help. We are the world & we are #WithAleppo.
The people of the world stand #WithAleppo on #GivingTuesday because the Kingdom of God begins to destroy the domain of death when people of all Faiths give their word, give their prayers, give their hands, give their voices to the begging children of Aleppo.
Because if the Church cannot be a place that cries with hundreds of thousand of children facing slaughtering, then the Church cannot say it is with God.
And yes, if God is with us, who can be against us — but what does it matter what we’re against, if we’re not with God.
Once I sat at our breakfast table in the thin early light, Children of Aleppo, and I saw a fawn run right up to our window and press his head right up against the glass because there were guns firing everywhere in the woods.
I looked right into the deer’s begging wild-eyed fear, Children. I couldn’t look away.
The people of the world stand #WithAleppo and we won’t looking away from your wild-eyed terror, Children of Aleppo, we won’t.
The stars hear.
And the world sees, O little Town of Aleppo, little Children of Aleppo,
how in your dark streets it can shine, a coming, clearer Light — the hopes and prayers of all the world —
can meet with you even now.
The People of the World — #WithAleppo
[ Thank you for letting your voice be counted & heard by the international community that you & the world are standing #WithAleppo ]
#GivingTuesday … #BeTheGIFT & stand #WithAleppo — let’s prove that the world does care & together, lets feed some of Aleppo’s Children for Christmas. Little Bana is counting on us.
How to grab the hands of the children & stand #WithAleppo
1. Sign this petition & letter above from the People of the World, People of all Faiths or sign over here at WithAleppo.com
3. Print out this Christmas Ornament and hang on your tree to remember to pray & fast for the Children of Aleppo, so your Advent is #WithAleppo.
4. Post a picture of you with your #WithAleppo ornament on FB, Twitter and IG — and ask your people to stand for the children, to stand #WithAleppo, so the governments of the world see that we care, so that we are where God is — with His children crying out to be heard.
That’s why Emmanuel came — the one whose very name is God with us — because with-ness breaks brokenness.
And the children of Aleppo are begging us to help them break free.