Perspective

Podcast: Jeremy Courtney, loving his neighbors on the front lines in the Middle East

In the aftermath of September 11, a friend told Jeremy Courtney of Preemptive Love Coalition that there was a “wild west” in the Middle East, and anyone could do anything. The friend had said it as a positive, but Jeremy was cautious.

“There was nothing here. There was this lawlessness that abounded [and] people were being put out of their houses.”

That’s when his family decided to move toward the chaos instead of away from it. Jeremy says it was the news and the reality of it that attracted his wife and him. “We felt like maybe our lives could make a difference if we would dare to go into the neighborhood and try, so we did.”

They moved to the Middle East at a time when fear of Middle Easterners was rampant. Jeremy’s family chose to be neighbors.

Sometimes faith means taking one step closer to the thing you fear the most.

Battles in Syria are fought street by street. If you’ve watched a documentary or seen it on the news, you’ve probably seen entire neighborhoods wiped out in minutes and locals running into rubble to save whoever they can. Jeremy and his family are in those neighborhoods now.

“We show up there. We press in … further and deeper than most organizations go, because we’ve just found that when we show up on the front lines, there are typically hundreds of thousands of people trapped.” Many are too sick or too elderly to leave, and “they’re afraid of what awaits them on the outside of the conflict zone.”

Beyond that, they’re more afraid of outsiders than they are of the people who are occupying their streets. That didn’t make their work easy, but, Jeremy says, they’ve found their niche “in showing up on the front lines, providing food and water and medicine.” Then they stay on those same streets. They commit to those neighborhoods and start, as soon as they can, trying to provide them with jobs, to bring bombed-out schools back to life, hospitals back to life. “We’re trying to see full communities back to life.”

“Violence doesn’t get the last word,” he says. “We do.” Violence drives people apart, Jeremy says. “That’s why we have to show up on the front lines of conflict and love anyway.”

Listen to this inspiring episode of Inside Giving to hear how God used a family’s love to help create beauty amidst the wreckage of war in Iraq and Syria. Maybe you will be inspired to find a place where you can show up and be the faith, hope, and love that your neighbors need on the frontlines.

Photo: Preemptive Love Coalition

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