There are stereotypes floating around about Middle Eastern men. They say that all Middle Eastern men are angry. They are all terrorists. They are mean to their families, and don't love their daughters.
You've surely heard it too.
But like most stereotypes, they don't hold up when you actually meet Middle Eastern men.
We met Isaac. He has given a kidney, both of his salaries, all his free time, his car, every room in his home, and even his own blood—in order to support the struggling Christian community in Baghdad. He has sacrificed everything he has to love well.
We met Zainab's dad. He spent two months, drove 700 miles, through 9 cities and violent territory, and saw 7 doctors to finally find someone who could fix his girl’s heart.
We met Majid. He put aside the pressure of his family's dire situation, having fled ISIS twice, to find someone who could help his son Isaac's defective heart.
We met Jamal. After he fled the terror of ISIS and got his family to safety, he returned to the danger zone again and again to buy the freedom of Yezidi girls who had been kidnapped and enslaved.
We met Hussain’s dad. He worked tirelessly against a government regime that wouldn’t care for his son with Downs Syndrome and international sanctions that prevented his son from getting the medicine he needed. His persistence paid off.
We met displaced dads who scooped up their families in the middle of the night to flee ISIS. This dad, who didn't know where his family's next meal would come from, took in two extra children whose parents had been killed.
We met displaced fathers who sorted through dozens of coats to find the one that would fit his boy just right.
We met fathers who made a new life for their families under blue-tarp tents after ISIS took everything they owned.
And there were the tender, compassionate fathers we met recently in Libya. They were anxious for their children to be well, and so grateful for the care they received!
We met fathers who whisper into their son's ears to calm them when they are afraid. We met a father who pursued treatment for his son for 12 long years, only to find out that his son’s heart was perfectly healthy! We met Salam's father, who between adjusting soothers and making his son comfortable, told his son's doctor “I will not forget it—never!”
When we hear the words 'Middle Eastern men' we remember men who are persistent, hopeful, determined, loving, generous, compassionate...and sometimes very tired. We think of very normal, and very extraordinary dads.
There is beauty beyond the stereotype.