I think we look at people sometimes and draw up conclusions in our mind about them, letting our own tainted perceptions and judgment creep in.
For the longest time, that was how I was with all people from the Middle East. I had them in a distant box labeled “radical” or “scary” because I, sadly, didn’t know any better.
When I arrived at YWAM Orlando to start my Discipleship Training School, I had already made up my mind about where I was going for outreach. Let’s just say the Middle East was last on my list! I was afraid: afraid of the people, afraid of the place, afraid of the danger I thought lay there.
My fears were challenged though as the team leader for the Middle Eastern trip started sharing their heart and their experience with this place shrouded in misunderstanding. They began to weep as they spoke about the beauty of the people and the desperate need for more to go and share the love of Jesus with them.
Right there, that moment, something changed in me and I was hooked. I realized the lie I had been believing and my fears disappeared as I embraced the truth.
I knew Jesus was calling me out of my judgments and assumptions about these beloved people and He was giving me a new perspective.
So I went. And I saw for myself.
I was completely undone by what I experienced and the people I met on my outreach. Some of the most beautiful, hospitable, caring, and genuine people I know live in the Middle East. God completely changed my mind and gave me a huge outpouring of His heart for these amazing people. I am forever marked by this beautiful place and the people in it.
I invite you to see for yourself as you view these photographs.
I will never forget this man’s face when he found out that one of our teammates spoke American Sign Language. He was so excited that he could have a real conversation with someone who could understand him! Little did we know, our teammate had been praying for an opportunity to use their sign language knowledge.
Just beyond these buildings are the banana fields that house Syrian refugees. Most of them work the fields in order to stay in their homes made of debris and tarp.
The entire two months that I was here, I hoped for our team to get the chance to go in and pray over this building. Not only did the beautiful architecture catch my eye, but I knew Jesus wanted to bring freedom to this place and reveal Himself to those inside.
I met this little girl at Petra. She was selling rocks on the side of the road with her brother. I walked over to her and began speaking the little Arabic I knew and then bought a rock. The rest of the day, she and her little brother followed me around, holding my hand and smiling at me.
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She told us of her home back in Syria and of the beautiful garden that she loved and cultivated with her own hands.
The rawness and tenderness of two worlds colliding for the first time.
This little one captured my heart while I was overseas in the Middle East. The world must see the beauty of this little girl, who was full of hope and treated me with such kindness.
This city seemed colorless at first, empty, vague, and foreign to me. But then God began speaking to me about it, He began telling me what this amazing city was meant to be: not alone and forbidden, but beautiful, thriving and lovely.
I met this man on the stair steps that we had to climb every day to get to our apartment; I called them Mount Sinai because they were so steep and so exhausting to climb everyday. I asked him if I could take his photo and he smiled and nodded his head, after that, I didn’t mind climbing Mount Sinai nearly as much, because I made a friend with this very cool sunbather.
Petra: ancient ruins and grand tourist experience, but what I saw there was nothing like I expected or was told. This place needs the redemption of Jesus. My wish is for it to be turned into a beautiful, thriving place, where people can come together and worship the majesty of God’s creation
I will never forget the smile on her face when my friend picked this girl up and told her she was beautiful. Our hearts broke when her mother begged us to take her with us to America so she could have a better life.
This beautiful lady is a refugee; she had lost her home and her family. I asked if I could pray for her, and after, she took my face in her hands and called me a beautiful girl.
Photography and Writing By:
Emily and Sarah | YWAM Orlando Staff