“Did the children feel pain?” she asked me in a trembling voice over the phone. The chemical attack in northern Syria in April had flooded the news with pictures of toddlers wearing oxygen masks—bright eyes looking directly into the camera while they struggled to breathe.
I didn’t know what to say. She’d seen our rapid response and urgent request for people to help families who were affected. She had already given, and shared, and cried, but her mother’s heart wouldn’t rest. She had to figure out what else she could do. She let the pain dig under her skin and refused to let her donation or a “thank you” from me band-aid over it.
Now her question sat between us in silence.
“Yes” I slowly exhaled, “ I believe they did.”
I remember how tear gas claws at your eyes until you feel like they might explode from the pain. The gas chamber that all soldiers experience during basic training gave me my first taste of it. Suffocating, it takes your breath and ignites it like fire. That’s why I carried a gas mask on my hip—like all soldiers do—for my 8 years of military service. I can’t imagine what chemicals that kill might feel like. Drowning in your own body while it’s lit on fire by an invisible intruder that you can’t fight off.
“I have to do something,” she choked out as we both sat with tears streaming down our faces, phones cradled to our ears.
“I can’t tuck my own kids in bed at night, thank God that they are safe, and do nothing. So we are going to do something,” she said resolutely through her tears.
Jess Ventura hung up the phone that day….but she wasn’t done. She and her husband Ryan were just getting started.
“Our names are Ryan and Jess Ventura. We live in Connecticut. And we invite you to partner with us and raise funds to help the innocent civilians of the Syrian War. We decided to form the Syrian 300. Our goal is to raise $300,000 by mobilizing 300 people who will give $84 a month for 12 months. That’s $1,000 for the year!
Join the movement of ordinary people who are standing alongside Preemptive Love, to bring life-saving food, water, and medicine to the most vulnerable in Syria today. Why? Because love overpowers hate. Every. Single. Time.”
Jess and Ryan Ventura believe a small number of ordinary people can do extraordinary things with love. They refuse to feel powerless and turn away because they know that love never fails. Instead, they are pressing bolding into the pain, showing up in the hard places, and unmaking violence with love.
And they need you to join them.
Jess and Ryan are asking 300 people to stand alongside them and believe in a Syria whose children are not only surviving, but thriving. To believe in the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
Will you join them?