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From one refugee to another…

It has been well noted that the refugees on our screens, and soon to be coming into Europe, are human beings; rightly this has led to sympathy and empathy. But the Christian can go further. We can say that we are refugees. And that fact alone should change the way we view this sad situation: this crisis is an opportunity.

Consider Deut 10:19: “you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Encoded in the DNA of every Christian person is the fact that we were at one time a refugee, a foreigner living in a foreign land. For the Israelites that meant living away from home exiled in Egypt, for believers now it means that we once were exiled from God our Father and home in his kingdom before Christ adopted us and accepted us in as his brothers. In other words, although most of us have never been political refugees, we know what it is to be spiritually trapped away from our spiritual home. We have been spiritual refugees. And what’s more, we know what it is to be granted spiritual asylum although we deserved nothing. Christ has opened up the borders of spiritual blessing to us, and welcomed us in freely.

That is why, when we watch the refugee’s plight on our screens there is a deep wrench in our hearts for we have a double-empathy with them. Not only do we share a common humanity, but we share a common experience of refugee plight. This double empathy is enough to compel us to action: “[we] are to love those who are foreigners;” and we do. We do. All of which is why many of us will be asking what we can do as a Church, and how we can take this opportunity to tell of the Christ who grants awesome asylum to all.

And that’s a deeply personal question, for the Church is not her leadership or staff. The Church consists in all of her people. The Church is you and me, and therefore the question of what ‘the Church’ should be doing comes to our front door calling our name, requiring our personal support. Therefore, as a Church staff we’d love to give the St Michael’s family some guidance regarding how each of us may consider living out our Deut 10 calling. Let me outline a selection of appropriate responses coupled with some of the best Christian initiatives I’ve discovered, and which we commend to you…

  1. This situation is bigger than us, but we know the one who dwarfs it in his mercy and majesty.
  2. Watch this video from London School of Theology president Krish Kandiah which gives a helpful overview from a Christian perspective. See here.
  3. Lobby your MP to up the UK resettlement quota, your council to resettle fifty refugees, sign up to find a safe home for a refugee. See here.
  4. Donate to the Open Doors appeal for the Syria crisis. See here.
  5. Volunteer to house a refugee individual or family on a temporary basis. See here.
  6. Volunteer to foster unaccompanied refugee children from anything from short-term during an emergency to medium and long-term. See here.

Deut 10 finishes with these astonishing words: “Your forefathers who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.” It is a timely reminder that, as we take the opportunity to witness to Christ’s asylum, God will be working out his plan to grow a spiritual people far larger than any people group, or nation-state we’ll ever see: a vast multitude more than any eye could number. May God speed that day!

John

 

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