For the past few weeks there has been a lot of attention and press regarding refugees. Because the issue is so complex and affecting so many people we can no longer ignore the situation. The global refugee crisis is being described as the greatest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime with 11 million people being displaced in Syria alone. (That is about half the population of the state of Texas being pushed out of their homes.) Not only are people left homeless but about five hundred thousand people have lost their lives in this civil war.
Last week Amy wrote a very insightful blog post describing the situation as well as what we can do to get involved. Read more here from “We Welcome Refugees.”
Heightened awareness of the refugee crisis came to a head in America when our country temporarily closed its boarders to refugees in attempt to “protect” our country from bad people potentially slipping in who could cause harm on our soil.
The UN 1951 Refugee Convention adopted the following definition of refugee to apply to any person who (in Article 1.A.2):
“owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
There are so many heart breaking stories right now about the refugee crisis, but have you stopped to think about the fact that Jesus himself was a refugee. Think about this little celebrated part of the nativity story and let it sink in.
In the Huffington Post article “Jesus Was a Refugee” by Ryan Gear writes:
“Perhaps it’s because the Syrian refugee crisis parallels the details of Jesus’ life a little too closely. Jesus and his parents were Middle Eastern refugees. The nativity scene, after all, depicts a Middle Eastern family who were looking for a place to stay, only to be told there was no room for them. Then, Matthew tells us that after his birth, Mary and Joseph fled with the baby Jesus to Egypt… as refugees fleeing from violence. The irony of Christians rejecting refugees…is hard to miss, even for those who often do miss the irony of their faith and political positions.”
Matthew tells us the story in his gospel (2:13-15):
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Last Monday night I was a part of a refugee prayer vigil with several hundred other concerned people. I was amazed by the spirit of compassion and deep concern for refugees here and around the world. Time and time again during the service I continued to remember, “my Lord was a refugee… my Lord was a refugee… my Lord was a refugee…”
Here at Restoration we’ve already partnered in amazing refugee work here in Dallas, Germany and Jordan. Our heart is to help refugees and I know there is more work to be done but realizing that I am directly connected to a refugee, whom I call Lord, has only softened my heart and moved me to action. His call to us his clear when he tells his disciples, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” -Mat. 25:40