The Refugee Crisis: How Were We Not Ready?
"The alien from a foreign land."
On a weekly - if not daily - basis, we are confronted with the dark and disturbing reality of the brokenness of this spaceship called earth as we hear and read stories about our marginalized brothers and sisters around the world who are being displaced by war, poverty, and violence.
From the children in Central America fleeing gangs and corruption to the Syrian refugees fleeing the violence of terrorists who nicknamed themselves the Islamic State - we are faced with an ever-growing crisis related to refugees around the world...and next door.
And for those of us who claim to follow Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, I believe that we will be held responsible for how we (individually and corporately) react or fail to react to the human need around us with this multi-national, multi-faceted refugee crisis.
But here's the thing, up until the last several weeks, my uninformed millennial mind saw this crisis through this lens: that the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Central America was a crisis completely new for the global community and the international Church in terms of gravity and scope. That this was something that maybe we were slow to responding to because we had no warning.
I think I was wrong.
Last week I picked up a book provided to me and teammates at the non-profit that I serve at. It's called The Mustard Seed Conspiracy by Tom Sine. In the book, one of the issues that Sine addresses is brokenness throughout the world and how our actions and inactions in the "Western world" affect others throughout the entire globe - often with out us even realizing it.
And within the first several chapters, Sine addresses one of the most prevalent needs facing humanity at the time his book was printed. This was what he wrote:
Convicting and raw advice isn't it?
Here's the kicker for me though. The year that Sine wrote this book?
35 years ago.
We had 35 years to prepare ourselves as the Church. The Bride of Christ. The agent for Christ's in-breaking Kingdom into our world.
We could have been more prepared. And we should have been.
The refugee crises' around our world are not new. That much I am learning. But here's the thing, we are still responsible to do SOMETHING.
The best time to have developed a "global refugee strategy" for the Church was 1981.
The next best time is today.
So I challenge you to join me in getting off the sidelines and get actively involved and informed about the refugees around the world and in your city whom you can serve and show the love of Christ to.
Don't know where to start? Here's some places to check out to take the first step:
Exodus Refugee Immigration: This non-profit in Indianapolis, Indiana, is dedicated to welcoming refugees to Indiana and helping arrange housing, education, and employment for those starting new lives here in Indiana. If you live in Indiana, get involved with them. If you live somewhere else, do some research and get involved with your own local/state organizations doing similar work for refugees.
Nazarene Compassion International: I am part of a church denomination known as the Church of the Nazarene. In our over 100 years of existence, global mission work has been one of our denomination's top priorities and the Nazarene Church is actively engaged in working through local churches in the Middle East and Europe to serve those displaced by the violence in and around Syria. Check out more about their work (and some resources for churches) here.
Ask your friends and local church leadership: Find out if and how your friends, family members, and local church are responding to the refugee crisis' around the world. If your church is connected (through partnership or denomination) with effective ministry work being done to help refugees - find out how you can join and help. If your local church and social circles aren't yet involved, be the catalyst for change in that direction.