World Refugee Day
There are millions of people around the world who have been displaced and seek refuge in a friendly land. Nearly 4 million South Sudanese face a nation with no future unless food and medical care can be restored. In total, more than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. 65 million! My friends, that is an appalling number for a global society that claims to be the most civilized ever on planet Earth.
Let’s take some time to pray and educate ourselves today. Please visit the UN Refugee Agency website at http://www.unhcr.org/ to learn more about opportunities to help and events in the U.S. today (and ongoing). The number of refugees around the world is jaw-dropping and disheartening. Our only civilized response (not to mention Christian response) is to assist, whether that means educating ourselves and our friends; donating time, supplies and money; and/or praying for love to eradicate fear.
One of the most important programs for our denomination, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is our Refugee and Immigration Ministry. We encourage our churches to participate in refugee services, we’re lobbying against stricter regulations, and we offer aid to asylum seekers and migrants. For more information, please visit Disciples Home Missions at https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/missions-advocacy/refugee-immigration-ministries/
In our own Naples congregation, we are blessed with the presence of Renee Gifford, an activist and philanthropist focused on refugee and immigrant services. Renee is working with refugees throughout Southwest Florida. We hope to soon communicate with (and perhaps visit) a refugee neighborhood in Miami. Renee recently reminded me that migrant and refugee families need more than cash (although cash certainly helps). They also need English tutoring, job mentoring, transportation assistance, food, clothing, furniture, housewares, and of course, prayer. In future church services and events, we’ll discuss how God is calling us to serve people displaced in much the same way as Jesus and his family when they were being hunted by King Herod.
Let us never forget that we live in this country because our ancestors were immigrants (unless we are Native Americans). Many of us were brought here forcibly. We call ourselves Americans, but we still have a tremendous amount of work to do before everyone in this country feels like part of the same family.
More information can be found at these links:
UN World Refugee Day: http://www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday/
Stand With Refugees Movement: http://www.standwithrefugees.us
A great sermon from an Australian minister, as pertinent today as it was in 2001:
From NPR: http://www.npr.org/2015/11/19/456577699/evangelical-groups-tell-political-leaders-jesus-was-a-refugee
Meditation: God of justice and compassion, make me the instrument of your peace.