Lebanon/Syria Final Blog: YES
by Marilyn Borst
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are YES in Christ. (II Corinthians 1: 20)
In the pile of rubble that was once the sanctuary of the Aleppo Presbyterian Church, we rooted about and claimed some small, portable mementos: a tattered Sunday School coloring sheet of Noah’s ark, a page from a commentary on Ezra from the pastor’s study, a 6” square of glazed tile, a bit of carved plaster from a molding…My “treasure” was a golf-ball size piece of carved glass which had once been a part of a chandelier. I had worshiped on this very spot eight years ago. Standing there upon the ruins of this historic church might have been a depressing experience – a reminder of the destructive evil that is war – had it not been for the assurance that this place was not the Presbyterian Church in Aleppo. We had already spent many joyful hours with that Church: we had lunched with its elders, we had been serenaded by its children, we had been embraced by its women, we had been inspired by the hope seen in their young adults, we had been humbled by the faith and faithfulness of its pastor, the Rev. Ibrahim Nseir. In all those experiences, we had come face to face with the resounding YES that is Christ –manifested in this bride, his Church. And we can testify to that same resounding, unequivocal, joyful, persevering YES in our subsequent visits to Mhardeh and Damascus, as well.
As the leader of this Outreach Foundation team, I cannot but be enormously grateful for those who chose to defy all of the “no’s” to come on this journey and be present to our sisters and brothers in Syria: Tom and Joy Boone, Julie Burgess, Jim Wood and Brian Collins. The fact that your families and congregations (West Hills Church, Omaha; First Presbyterian Church Norfolk, VA; Bethel Presbyterian Church, Cornelius, NC) sent you off with their (somewhat anxious?) blessing confirms their discernment that God’s YES preceded our journey. God’s YES also buffered us from the shelling (heard in all three stops), healed us from the miserable afflictions to our GI tracts and preserved us during the long drives on dangerous highways. Theologian Frederick Beuchner has observed that, “If you want to know who you are as opposed to who you think you are, pay attention to where your feet take you.” I can assure you, dear team, that the faithful Church in Syria was paying attention to where your feet had taken you. There are precious few who have gone before you in this current crisis and few will follow without a sense that it is “safe.” You were, without a doubt, an incarnational YES to that Church, in that place and at this time – a YES, that they are known and loved and prayed for. And I know that their faith was, in turn, an overwhelming YES to each of us. This was Holy Ground wherever we stood together – these were places of YES.
Associate Director for Partnership Development