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What You Do is What You Believe

Emily Poe wrote this in November, after reflecting on her time in Greece.


In July, we had an all squad month in Thessaloniki, Greece and did ministry with refugees. This is by far one of the hardest seasons, even months later, to even begin to know how to talk about. This was a month where I honestly wrestled pretty hard within myself and with the Lord about so much. This was a month where I felt overwhelming heartache, anger, and confusion. Every time I do think about it, write about it or talk about it, I can’t help but cry. And I honestly pray that never changes.

We spent the month partnering with a church and working in their drop off center, as well as spending time in refugee camps and in the parks around the city where hundreds of families who did not have asylum had made their homes. I sat down with individuals and families and listened to some of the most painful stories I have ever heard first-hand. I got to know a woman from Pakistan who looked me in the eyes and described to me the different ways that the Taliban had tortured members of her family and murdered her husband. I held and played with children who have seen and experienced more in their few years of life than most people have and should ever see in a lifetime.

And the thing is, the pain and danger don’t just stop once they get the chance to leave their war-stricken countries. Yes, these people are allowed to seek refuge in other places, if they even make it out alive, but that doesn’t mean that they are suddenly safe. Thousands of people end up homeless, constantly being kicked out of every single place that they set up their cardboard and few belongings for the night. If people do get asylum and end up in camps, they live in conditions that no one should ever have to live in and without hope of anything better or ever getting out. Some of them do have hope, but the reality is that the majority of them do not unless something changes.

And yes, there is hope. There is always hope. Hope is crucial and it’s something that we are called to have and something that we should all cling onto for dear life. But, I think that sometimes as Christians, we can use “hope” and “God is in control” as a way to make ourselves feel better for not actually doing anything about the things that we should be giving our everything for. We use it as a cop-out and it’s really not okay. It’s so easy, in the western world especially, to sit in our comfortable homes and de-humanize the people that we read about in our armchairs, while also coming up with our own opinions about whether or not they should be allowed in our countries and why. It is so easy to turn real, living and breathing souls into political banter and arguments. It’s easy because then we don’t actually have to see them as people..and if we don’t see them as people then we don’t actually have to feel their pain, let alone do anything about it.

I’m not saying this to condemn anyone. There is no condemnation in Christ. But, one of the biggest things that I was hit with every single day that month was that I couldn’t help but ask “Why are there not more people here loving these people? Why are there not more people doing something about this?” And the thing is, I need to hear this just as much as the next person. I wasn’t necessarily there because I chose to be. I wasn’t there because I heard about the crisis and had to do something about it because I knew that it was my job as a follower of Christ to fight injustice. I was there because I signed up for an 11-month mission trip and Greece happened to be one of the countries on my route. But, this month changed me and I pray that I never go back to who I was. I’m at a point now where I no longer see injustice as a “maybe I should do something” issue. I see it as a “you definitely should do something” issue.

One of the biggest things that God kept hitting me on the head with all month was this issue of justice. As Christians, we have a call to justice. We have a call to do for others what we would want to be done for us. We have a call to bring heaven to earth in everything that we do. And we belong to a Father who is powerful enough to do just that if we will offer ourselves to Him to use us to do so. We are not meant to be comfortable. We are meant to be doers of the Word and we are not meant to live for ourselves. (You can find this all in scripture if you don’t believe me). I truly believe our lives will be a complete waste if we live them for ourselves.

The refugee crisis is a huge freaking deal and there’s so much about this issue that makes me sick. But it’s not the only issue going on in the world that I could say this about. There are people all over the world that are terrified, hurting, in danger and in situations that no one should ever have to be in. There’s so much going on in this world that is not okay. And yes, God is in control, but, God forbid we ever use that as an excuse to be passive and do nothing. I think if we are finding ourselves unmoved, or more moved by the desire for people to calm down with the things they’re upset about than the actual issue itself, then I think that shows that we need to take some time to seek to understand before we even begin to open our mouths.

I read a book while in Greece called Just Courage by Gary Haugen. Read it. Seriously. This book was my saving grace during this season of my life. I was angry and confused and super broken and took some really big questions to God every day while I was in Greece, and He definitely used so much of it to bring me comfort and answers in the midst of it all. I’m still confused and there’s still so much that I see that breaks my heart to pieces and makes me angry, but I now understand that’s because I’m close to the heart of God and I’m meant to do something about it and not just sit in what I see or feel. But anyways, I’m just going to add some of my favorite quotes from it, because he honestly says it way better than I could.

“God calls us to make the transition from being those who have been rescued from the world to those through whom God is literally rescuing the world.”

“God is yearning to rescue you from triviality and fear by making you a part of His powerful struggle for justice in the world.”

“The courage to confront violence cannot be faked. You either show up or you don’t.”

“For those neighbors around the world who are suffering injustice – We cannot say that we love them if we do not draw near and seek justice on their behalf.”

“We don’t believe something by merely saying we believe it, or even when we believe we believe it. We believe something when we act as if it were true.”

“I don’t know if God rolls his eyes or not, but that is what I picture Him doing every time He hears the “realistic” and “mature” Christians give fourteen reasons why there is nothing we can do to stop violence and injustice.”

Also, these.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

“What I believe isn’t what I say I believe. What I believe is what I do.” – Donald Miller

What about you? Are you tired of hearing stories on the news and not doing anything about it? Apply for the World Race and get the opportunity to make a difference in the world. 



  1. Wow, so thankful for your personal experience and for finding the words to describe the injustice and the difficulties of the refugees in Greece. We, the people, need to be exposed to the stories and the heart of this matter. I am praying for each person to resolve to do one thing…start with one thing to share the load. Thanks, Emily!!

    This week I head to a Christian university and participate in Global Focus week. Hopefully, I can share your post with some young college kids. WR Alum mom

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