Imagine a neighbor running into your house and hysterically telling you that a band of armed and dangerous thugs were heading to your neighborhood with the intent of killing you and your family and burning down your house. What would you do? Where would you go? What would you take with you?
This happens every day somewhere in the world. The number of refugees globally hit an all-time high of 43.7 million—half of which are children—in 2011 (the latest figures available). Every minute, eight people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution, or terror. The majority of these refugees cross borders into other developing countries where they languish in squalid camps where food and water is scarce and diseases spread rapidly.
Today is World Refugee Day around the globe, an opportunity for those of us who love God and live in freedom to remember “those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3 NIV). I’m sure your hearts break just as mine does when I see images of the frightened and malnourished children clinging to their mothers in these camps, no doubt wondering why they can’t go home and play like other kids. You probably also feel helpless to do anything because the problem is so big, so far away, and caused by such evil.
But Christians are never helpless. We serve an all-powerful God who invites us to ask for anything in His name. Could you spend a few minutes today praying for refugees and the many fine agencies trying to serve and protect them?
And what about the refugees among us? More than 58,000 people arrived in the U.S. as refugees last year. What an opportunity we have to demonstrate to them the love of Jesus Christ. For example, Faith Community Church in Colorado partnered with the organization I lead, Bethany Christian Services, to welcome Om and Dil, a couple from Bhutan who had spent twenty years in a refugee camp. Can you imagine how they felt when at the refugee agency in the U.S. they heard these comforting words: “There are some people from a church who want to help you.”
The good people of Faith Community provided furniture, dishes, and clothes for Om and Dil’s four children. They hosted a dinner for them and helped Dil—the mom—find a job cleaning homes and offices. What a great example of living out the repeated teaching from Scripture to love and care for the “strangers” among us (Deuteronomy 10:19, Leviticus 19:34, Romans 12:13).
The Church always seems to shine brightest in the face of adversity. The world’s refugee crisis compels us to become the hands and feet of Jesus for those who may not otherwise ever see Him.
For more information about Bethany’s Refugee services, please visit http://www.bethany.org/grandrapids/refugee-services.