If someone told you at gunpoint to leave your home and never come back, where would you go? If you were only allowed a couple minutes to take with you only what you could carry, what would you take? If you had no access to food and your family was starving, what would you do? It is difficult to believe scenarios like this would happen in our current age, but they are more common now than ever before. There are more people who have been forced from their home currently than at any other time in history, some 65.6 million people. Among these are some 22.5 million refugees, half under the age of 18, who have left their home country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. Can you imagine the conditions it took for each of these families to flee their homes?
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33-34
We might hear these numbers or stories about refugees and displaced people in the news and say ‘wow, that’s too bad’ because likely we don’t know anyone in this situation or who has gone through an experience like this. Most of us are insulated from the realities and the struggle for identity and life many of these people face each day. Can you imagine walking your family across hundreds of miles of unfamiliar terrain with thin hopes of a better life or ever returning home? Or being stuck in a refugee camp with thousands of strangers in a similar situation as you for years on end? In reality, people who flee are not that much different from you and me or others you may know. Some are good, hard working people, and some are not, just like the mix of folks in your own home town. We may hear stories of crimes committed by some in these groups and assume they are all the same. The further we are from their reality, the easier it is to become cold and hardened toward an alien, or refugee, or anyone that is ‘not where they are supposed to be.’ If this is our attitude toward any people group, we need a wake-up call! How many of us came to know the love of God because we were condemned and chastised?
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16
So, you say, ‘what can I do?’ there are no refugees knocking on my door looking for a place to stay. Listen to some of the stories of what people have gone through and why they left their homes. Everyone has a story. I got to hear and ask questions of a man and his family who are refugees from SE Asia and had recently settled in Iowa for now. Believe me, you wanted to shake his hand and welcome him, even if he looked nothing like you, after hearing what he went through. If you have an attitude of hate or indifference in your heart, ask God to give you more compassion. Even if you can’t give anything directly to these people, there are organizations that are effective in the help they provide with food, shelter, and resettlement. Pray for these people as a group, but also individually, that they may hear the Gospel message and come to experience His mercy through those that show them kindness and help during a traumatic time in their lives.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25:34-36
Yours in Christ,