Life in a tent – who knows for how long?
Living with the vivid memories of the bombings and shootings that made you flee. The heartache of lost family members who didn’t make it out. Fear of abuse from people around you who are desperate to survive at all costs.
Refugees are utterly vulnerable and dependent on others. Far from the relationships, jobs and resources that always supported them in the past, refugees die without help.
Those of us who minister to the poor normally take great pains to avoid creating dependency. But in the time of refugees’ flight with almost nothing, they are dependent on us.
Words about dealing with needy foreigners
Speaking to His soon-to-be-settled people, God had this to say (Leviticus 19:34, NASB):
“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”
God seems to be saying to His people, “Of course, I should expect you to care for the foreigners who are staying in your land. You’ve been in the very same situation yourselves, wandering around the desert feeling desperate and weary, searching for sustenance. You even had Me providing manna and quail quite regularly! Whereas these foreigners are dependent on the aid of My people.”
God expects a heart-felt love for displaced people. He wants support for those who cannot support themselves. It’s a fundamental aspect of God’s love throughout Scripture. We are at an utter loss to procure salvation for ourselves, yet God provides it. Likewise, in our human-to-human relationships, we are to rescue others when they’re in desperate need.
Listen to the beautiful balancing that Paul says should happen when we find out about people who cannot adequately provide for themselves (widows in this case). In 2 Corinthians 8:14-15, NIV, he says:
“At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.’”
How do we work this out?
For years, Food for the Hungry (FH) has ministered to people displaced by the violence in the border region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. FH/DRC helped 129,000 displaced people with seeds, tools, roads, income generation training, cash-for-work, safe water and health supplies. They needed this support, so that they could get their feet under them in their new homeland. FH/Burundi assisted more than 72,000 displaced individuals with various interventions like safe water, primary schools, income generation, plantings and prevention and counseling efforts to the scourge of sexual violence.
The newest refugee crisis involves those fleeing the war in Syria. An estimated 1.6 million Syrian civilians have run for safety to neighboring countries. Right now, you can participate in Food for the Hungry’s response to this crisis. Multitudes of families without a home are depending on others to survive. We as God’s people must show them the provision of a loving Father – love in a time of deep hurt, provision in a time of extreme loss.
In observance of World Refugee Day, I encourage you to remember those facing the plight of being displaced from home.