We’ve all heard the numbers, numbers so big they defy comprehension: 60 million displaced people worldwide; 20 million are refugees; and from the fighting in Syria alone, more than 4.5 million people have fled the country and 6.5 million more are internally displaced. It is one of the greatest humanitarian crises in history. Even many places of refuge have now also become precarious, if not downright deadly, as food and water run scarce, sanitation lapses, and predators exploit the chaos and desperation in the makeshift camps that many refugees now call home. Children are especially and increasingly at risk: young men and boys are kidnapped and conscripted; girls are married off as young as 12 in efforts to keep them safe; many children have been sexually abused as the camps’ security forces struggle to keep pace with the growing influx of people and the depletion of resources. Those individuals and families who have escaped to other countries often find their new neighbors resentful and threatening. Unable to find work, bullied and despised for the strain they put on the local economy, many refugees move outside the cities and live in squalor in decaying structures, miles from supplies or assistance.
It is our responsibility as the Body of Christ sacrificially to care for refugees, knowing that God commands us “to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners…”(Deut. 10:19). As American Christians, this rings doubly true. Concern for our national security, indifference, or perhaps simply the overwhelming scope of the problem has paralyzed and distracted us from seeing the amazing opportunity that we have to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ with those most in need of His grace. Never has it been so essential to put feet on our faith.
So how do we address these fears and challenges so that we can reclaim the power of Christ to make a difference? In this three-part series, we will begin laying the foundation for action by bringing awareness to the crisis in Syria and sharing factual information on the refugees. From there, we will look at ways that FPC can respond to the disaster as Christ would have done, remembering His words: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Though the task is daunting, Proverbs tells us, “in their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (16:9). Here, together we will take that first step, confident in the knowledge that God does His best work in the midst of the impossible.
Please click on the links below for information and articles on the crisis from a Christian perspective.
Last time we presented an introduction to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, providing links for you to explore and learn more about the background of the Syrian War as well as the church’s role in helping those displaced by its violence. This week we look at the stories and faces that make up the mosaic of loss and uncertainty that we see on the news every night. The overwhelming flood of people and information from this disaster makes it difficult to distinguish the personal in the global, to remember that a world crisis is a human crisis. But what is vague or obscure from a distance often looks very familiar when we see it up close.
One of the greatest challenges facing the refugees is how to care for and educate their children in the midst of instability and destitution. It is a heartbreaking issue for the refugees and it is also highly relevant for our world, which may be faced with an entire generation that is ill-equipped to become productive and generous global citizens. Jesus tells us, “Therefore whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18: 4-5). We are called to seek to meet the needs of these children, and they are many.
However, we know from Scripture that the good works we do in the Lord’s name will return to us: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). Generosity, whether of resources or spirit, not only touches the lives of those we help but also enriches our walk with Christ and grows His Kingdom. In the recent Canadian wildfires, Syrian refugees settled in the area pitched in to assist, empathizing with the local residents who had lost everything. It is a poignant reminder of our shared humanity and a beautiful example of how grace breeds grace.
Proverbs tells us “a good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children” (13:22). As we go forward, let us remember that we are all God’s children and let us commit to pray for our brothers and sisters in need wherever they are. Let us leave the legacy of Christ’s love and peace to a world desperate for hope and healing.
Please click on the link below to read more stories of the refugees.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:13-14).
As Christians, we are called to be the light of the world, to run in when others run out, to love our enemies, and to serve God by serving others. It is in our sacrificial care for the least, the last, and the lost that we show our gratitude and reverence for the life that Christ ransomed for us with His blood.
But what does that look like for such a staggeringly immense and geographically distant disaster like the Syrian Refugee Crisis? How do we wash the feet of neighbors who are 6,000 miles away?
This fall, FPC will begin organizing a response to the crisis, calling for volunteers to help spearhead the movement and lead our church in sharing Christ’s love with our brothers and sisters who have been displaced by the violence in Syria. We ask that you pray about joining this movement, asking God to show you how your unique gifts and talents may be of use to His people abroad.
In no way do we minimize the devastation and evil that has befallen the refugees, but in many ways the brokenness of Syria has given the church a wonderful opportunity to spread the gospel among people we previously could not reach. In the following article, the author asks, what if we tried to see this situation as God sees it?
What a tremendous impact that could have on our desire to get involved and our confidence in the outcome. Working within God’s plan, emboldened by uncertainty and blessed by sacrifice, our actions would answer the question “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
Please read the following article about how others in the Christian community view the crisis, and how they’re working to help:
There are also copies of the most recent publication from Voice of the Martyrs in the Loft with several powerful articles on the crisis.
As you pray over the refugees and FPC’s response to the crisis, please consider the following information:
You may also use this prayer guide to help lift up the refugees and their needs: