He must have been around five (5) years old, but he had never experienced the joys of childhood. He is the boy who was pulled out from the rubble caused by an air strike in Aleppo in strife-torn Syria. There are girls and boys like him in various countries whose childhood has been stolen from them by war. We will never know their names, but there is a label for them – “collateral damage”.
Viewing this boy’s picture on TV reminds me of many things. He reminds me of the massacre in Bethlehem ordered by Herod as he tried to kill the infant Jesus. He reminds me of Jesus in His ministry calling a child to Himself and telling His disciples that it is to those with childlike faith that the Kingdom of God belongs. Closer to home he brings to mind our children at church gathering around the Word at worship during children’s time and the pre-school kids entrusted by their parents to our daily care. He reminds me of my own grandchildren.
How shall we respond to the boy from Aleppo and others like him?
We could, like the Levite, walk over, look at him and pass by on the other side of the road (Lk. 10:25ff). We could also reason our way out and say that war will always have unintended victims. Or…
We could ask God to give wisdom to our government leaders as they formulate and execute policies towards a just peace in the world. As we feel led by the Holy Spirit and as our personal powers and circumstances allow we could actually put our hands to the plow and volunteer or support legitimate local or international humanitarian organizations that help children. Some of us through the church or perhaps privately may already be doing that.
Perhaps Aleppo has a message for us. Maybe it is to remind us that we ourselves have received the tender love of Jesus as He embraced suffering and death on the Cross for our sake. Maybe it is to raise our sensitivity to His voice so that we may hear His call, respond and make a difference in the life of even just one child.