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CHOOSE EMPATHY: World Refugee Day 2018

Jun 19 2018


Today is “World Refugee Day”.

Consider with me for a moment what it must be like to be cold, hungry, homeless and displaced. Consider what it must be like to be on the run, with no tangible confidence in the future or safety of your own life or that of your family. Consider the desperation that leaves a person no choice except to flee. Consider how you would fare in such distressing and harrowing circumstances… and how appreciative you would be of any help, intervention, advocacy or prayer for your wellbeing and peace.

The global refugee crisis of today is regarded as the largest in the history of humankind. It affects every continent, most nations and is complex and controversial on many fronts. There are no easy answers… yet alongside governments and those empowered to help, believers (who constitute the Body of Christ and the Church) CAN harness their strength in raising awareness, strategizing solution and facilitating answers. I believe that one of the most effective catalysts of change is to empathize by putting yourself in the shoes of another less fortunate.

At Colour this year we invited Jeremy Courtney (from Preemptive Love Coalition) to enlighten us even more to the plight of the refugee on the earth. Speaking from his own experience in Iraq and Syria, he shared that when he and his wife Jessica first moved to this volatile part of the world, their conviction was to “love first and ask questions later”. This conviction then deepened to a revelation that they personally would “love regardless of the cost”.

The vast majority of us will probably never find ourselves in the shoes of Jeremy and Jessica, but we can learn from their experience and the lives of the many others who are positioned on the front lines of humanitarian need.  We can apply ourselves to understanding and knowledge. We can apply ourselves to not turn away when the realities become too difficult to process… and we can apply ourselves to enquire “how can I help” and where can I partner?

If you are struggling to know where to begin, perhaps our website can help. The site has a number of pathways that may help. In our church we have a much repeated saying when it comes to humanitarian response – “we can’t do everything, but we can do something”. We also hold to a conviction that by the grace of God, we shall always CHOOSE EMPATHY. Empathy being to lean in and identify with the difficulties of others.

So as believers, let’s continue to stand on the side of justice, peace and prayer.

  • Let’s pray that those in governance will have the capacity to empathize and respond with compassion.
  • Let’s pray that those in authority will discover Godly strategies of how to secure borders, yet NOT at the expense of innocent lives merely seeking safe haven.
  • Let’s pray for the children… “Father, have mercy on these little ones”.

Note – the treatment of children matters deeply to Christ, and how certain governments (including Australia and the United States) are currently being seen to treat migrants and asylum seekers is of great distress to many. Let’s pray for effective policies that protect vulnerable families.

  • Let’s pray that good people will continue to open their hearts, minds and resources to help.
  • Let’s pray against the fallen, unjust or evil forces that drive people to flee from their homes and homeland.

And, let’s pray that amid the tragedy and hopelessness facing so many today – that God’s kindness, saving grace and redemption will meet them in their darkest hours… and lead them home.

Psalm 10:17-18 (The Passion Translation)

“Lord, you know and understand all the hopes of the humble, and will hear their cries and comfort their hearts, helping them all! The orphans and the oppressed will be terrified no longer, for you will bring them justice, and no one will trouble them.”

With love and affection,

Bobbie Houston