READ PASSAGE | Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Loving our enemies is not an easy task. In fact, it may be one of the hardest things we’re ever commanded to do. But, we don’t have to love alone. When attempting to love our enemies, Jesus goes before us and community comes alongside us. We need others to help us see beyond our wounds, give us insight into the root issues, and offer a better solution. Here’s one example of an organization admitting their failure and partnering with others to step out in risky love.
READ ARTICLE | We’re Not the Answer to Other People’s Problems. They Are. | April 26, 2017
Love shows up when the bullets fly, when the bombs drop. But then love gets out of the way. Real peace—lasting, sustainable change—only happens when we allow others to own their future.
Local problems need local solutions. When it comes to the battle against ISIS in Iraq or the refugee crisis in Syria, we can be the conduit, but local people and partners—they are the answer. That is why we call ourselves a coalition. It’s not just a name; it’s our organizational model. Ten years ago, we started helping kids get life-saving heart surgeries. We weren’t the only ones doing this work. Many foreign doctors came to Iraq—but they relegated local doctors and nurses to the sidelines of the operating theater. This approach saved a lot of lives, but it failed to address the underlying need: making sure Iraq’s medical system can give Iraqi kids the care they need, long after the foreign doctors have gone home.
We settled on a different approach, partnering with foreign medical teams and local doctors and nurses to build Iraq’s capacity to provide high quality cardiac care. Teams of foreign doctors spend thousands of hours training local medical staff—and then hand them the reins. As a result, children’s lives are being saved in hospitals across Iraq—and now, around the world—even after our teams have left. By partnering locally, we were able to accomplish so much more than we could alone.
Responding to Iraq’s biggest crisis—together. In 2014, ISIS stormed across Iraq. We started showing up on the frontlines in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Mosul—providing life-saving food, water, and medical care for those caught in the middle of the conflict. We started providing jobs and income and empowerment opportunities for those who lost everything fleeing ISIS. We could not do this without our Iraqi staff, friends, and local partners like the Iraq Health Access Organization. They know the people, places, needs, and solutions far better than anyone else. Just like with our heart surgery programs, we knew we had to be in this together—with local people and local organizations—if we actually wanted to help.
Today, we work shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends in Iraq and Syria. Not just because we believe it’s necessary (we do)—but because it’s the best way to work. We go into the hard places together. We design our responses and programs together. We empower people together. When we say “we,” we don’t mean white Westerners charging in to “save the day.” We mean all of us together, collectively expanding the work that can be done.
Everything we do is about building local capacity, investing in local institutions, and strengthening communities that will endure well after we are gone. Our local staff, friends, and partners extend the reach of what we can do in any one place. They get us into places we couldn’t reach without their influence. They help us stay longer and do more than we ever could have done by ourselves. Expanding our coalition expands our reach, and then our impact. Thinking of ourselves as something bigger than our own staff means we can accomplish things that are bigger than ourselves.
You’re a part of this coalition, too. When you join us—when you live out this idea of preemptive love, when you show hospitality wherever you are, when you show up for those displaced by war by purchasing refugee-made products in our store, running fundraisers, using your voice, or by giving—you build something that will last. You help us work in more than one place at a time. You become an extension of this movement, right where you are—even as you help us to invest in and through local partners where we are. We depend on you to make our work possible, and we depend on our local partners to help us use those resources most effectively. That is our coalition. That is how all of us—you, our staff at Preemptive Love, and our local partners—create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. We are a network—a coalition—of people working to unmake violence and remake our world with the hope that someday, this work will no longer be needed.
TO DO | Pray for Preemptive Love
Preemptive love is a global community of peacemakers remaking the world by providing lifesaving heart surgeries for children, food and shelter for those persecuted by extremists, education for at-risk children, and small-business empowerment grants so people can put their own lives back together. Pray for this community to grow and for more to join the coalition.
Article by Ben Irwin | South Fellowship Church