As you will be aware, Europe and the Middle East has been hit by a refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes from troubled lands. The question is why should we do anything about it?
Well hopefully the answer is quite simple to us as Christians. But if not then I will be going through a few points and explain our duty as our Lord’s followers to the people fleeing hardship and war stained lands.
Firstly, God calls us to be the light of the world, to shine amongst the darkest places, and in a situation that has seen so much suffering and hardship, it is our duty to make that difference to people’s lives, even if in the smallest way. To bring a bit of hope to a fleeing family, to show compassion, and to love everyone as we are called to do, we are doing what Jesus commanded us to do, to our best abilities. If we put ourselves before others, and think of our needs before others, then are we no better than the Pharisees who disregarded the Gentiles, are we no better than the priest who walked passed the injured man? The story of the Good Samaritan should be our guide in this situation, to help those who need the help.
Secondly, these are all people made in the image of God, surely to reject them as outcasts is rejecting God? The Father has set apart his kingdom for us, even when we do wrong, sin, and disappoint him, he still loves us and cares for us, and he forgives us of all our wrong doings and still promises his kingdom! These people haven’t even done anything wrong to us, and it makes me dumbstruck that there would be calls to shut our borders and keep them out.
Thirdly, our history as Christians has always been helping and protecting those in need, the poor and those under tyranny. You don’t have to go too far back to the days of the British Empire, where the secular government removed education and rights from the countries we occupied, and it was only the missionaries who went by their own accord who gave a free education and hospitality to those in need. Now, I am not saying that every missionary in the past did amazing things, granted some had flaws and some abused their power, sad as it is to admit it, nonetheless, the vast majority did what Christ wanted, to go into the world and preach the good news, even if it went into conflict with the local government. There was a case where a local Catholic preacher cut down telephone poles to build his church and facilities, in which he could provide for the local community, unlike the secular French government whom just wanted to stamp their authority over them. They did what the government could not provide; but if they could do all that to help a small community in a faraway country (especially in those days!), what more can we do now? They are coming to us for help, we don’t even have to travel, yet there appears to be opposition, whilst those missionaries received the prayers of the saints for their work. It’s almost the way that there appears to be an attitude that we want to help, but not when it might ruin our routine or actually means that we get involved, rather than letting a few do the work.
Fourthly, and finally, there will be Christians in the refugee number, and although our help should be to everyone, these are part of the church family, they are part of Gods church, and they need our help, like a brother would help a sister, like our loving Father cares for us. They are our brethren and they need our prayers, but also our direct support and we should not shy away from our responsibilities.
Do we have to be careful when welcoming refugees? I do think that there has to an element of caution, I often see people stating that the UK have plenty of space, which is irrelevant, as people migrate to cities and towns, which can cause a certain amount of strain on services. For example you can get an increase in social depravation. As a country with over a million people using food banks, our services are already facing problems, so as I have said, we do need to take an element of caution. Nonetheless, this should not stop our Christian Duty, there are ways round any problem, and we should take up the challenge. Thus we must ensure that we have provisions in place, and thanks be to God that the church can play such a huge part in this, that we are here to help, that we care.
Of course, some of us can do more than others, with myself being a MA student, I have little resources or time in helping in the crisis, which is shameful, nonetheless my prayers are too all those who are helping and to all those refugees who need help. May God shine in all that happens and may we remember him to all that we do, that everything is possible because of him and not because of us. Therefore take time to pray, take time to draw close to him and let him lead us. I do hope this post helps and even convinces anyone who is not sure what to think on the crisis. May we focus on prayer before we do any action, as we must know what our God wants us to do. May we follow Christs example and be as close to him as possible.