The Elephant in the Room

Let’s talk about an elephant.

Imagine the entire population of Canada, 37 million people, being driven from their homes because of economic crisis, war, or persecution. Now double that number. According to figures from the UNHCR* almost 70 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced. More than half of these people remain in their countries of origin but cannot return to their hometowns, and do not have access to their homes or livelihoods. Almost 26 million others have been forced to seek refuge in other countries. Half of these are young people under 18 years of age. Many have overstayed their welcome in their host countries and now are illegals hiding from authorities who could easily send them back to their homelands to face even more hardship, and even death. An estimated 44,000 people daily flee their homes. More than 10 million are stateless, living a life deprived of identity, education, healthcare, the possibility of work, or the freedom to move about.

This is the “elephant in the room,” one that we often don’t want to talk about. One we might even feel we must protect ourselves from. The “elephant” threatens us. Its presence engenders fear. Its needs makes demands on our time, our money, our energy, our patience, and even on our faith.

The Bible has a lot to say about the believer’s engagement with foreigners—especially those in need (Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Isaiah 58:6, 7; Matthew 25:37-40).

These commands, and others like them, coupled with the staggering figures from the UNHCR, highlight the need for our Fellowship churches to be engaged in helping the aliens, wanderers, and strangers in our world, both at home and abroad.

But how do we “eat an elephant?”

You already know the classic answer, which is: “One bite at a time.”  Which in our context would mean one refugee, or refugee family, at a time.

That’s refugee sponsorship.

There is “an elephant in the room” and some among our Fellowship family have already generously and selflessly responded to its presence.

The need is urgent!” writes a member of one of our Fellowship churches involved in sponsoring refugees. “The situation for the refugee families I know of in Turkey has only grown less hopeful with the UNHCR completely leaving Turkey and the U.S. accepting extremely few refugees.  That is, almost hopeless apart from private refugee sponsorship.”

If each one of our 500+ churches across Canada sponsored one refugee family, we’d still only be taking a small “bite” out of the “elephant.” But it would be a “bite,” and it would be a good beginning.

We encourage you to visit our website for more information on refugee sponsorship. FAIR partners with the Christian and Missionary Alliance to help our churches through the process involved in sponsoring refugees. As always, you can contact us if you have questions or need further information.

The Fellowship is us, all of us, as believers and imitators of Christ, working together on that elephant, knowing that in following the Lord’s command a blessing always follows (Isaiah 58:9-11).

* United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees