Every minute of every day twenty-four people leave everything they know and love to flee persecution, terror and war. Every minute of every day, people like Mohammed, fight for the survival of his children by scrounging for food amid the fallout and desolation.
Today is ‘World Refugee Day’ – a day when people like you and I pause to remember the individuals and families who are being denied the basic human right of having somewhere to call “home”. Our responsibility as Christ followers is to know God’s heart on the subject and respond accordingly. Of the “stranger” Matthew 25:37-40 suggests that when we welcome the stranger we are actually welcoming Christ.
“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
At Colour this year we highlighted, yet again, our responsibility toward “empathy”. Empathy is different to sympathy in that it demands a higher response. It is defined as “the ability to lean in and identify with the difficulty of another … to understand, be sensitive towards and share the plight of others.”
Today, as the world officially recognizes the plight of refugees around the world, perhaps we can do more than merely feel sadness for their situation. Perhaps we can CHOOSE EMPATHY and actually do something tangible and felt. Perhaps we can change the conversation, sign a petition, talk to local government or that local politician who is appointed to serve the community. Perhaps we can diffuse the fear and toxicity around the subject by becoming more informed and knowledgeable ourselves. Perhaps we can rally friends and support organizations on the ground with much needed and ongoing support. Perhaps we really could make a difference. (Our Colour sisterhood website is a great place to start, and offers a number of pathways of response. coloursisterhood.com)
And something we can all CHOOSE to do is PRAY. The nature of prayer is that it • aligns our heart with God’s • it pushes back the forces of darkness that are so often at the core of the problems • it makes a way for Light and Love to prevail • it sustains those who are suffering and crying out to a God in heaven who does hear their lament (Psalm 10) • and it was the strategic instruction from Jesus. So let’s choose prayer as a tangible, good, honorable and effective weapon in bringing help to the “refugee” today.
Whilst doing the USA Colour Conferences, I interviewed Jessica Courtney from the Preemptive Love Coalition. As my team and I sought to lift focus in this context, I asked her one final question. “Jessica – what must we who live in peace, never forget about those who don’t live in peace?” Her measured and yet confident reply was “We must always remember that these people are not complicit in this war”. In other words, the vast vast majority of the millions who have fled or are still fleeing are the innocent who have been caught in the firing line of warring factions. They’ve done nothing to deserve this horror. Let’s always be grateful for the peace and stability that might be our current portion, and let’s always do unto others, as we would have them do unto us.
You are lovely. Thank you for reading. And may God overshadow and bless you and your family always.