Forty-four thousand 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.
A Crisis in our Time
According to figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) close to 70 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Almost 26 million of these 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. As illegals they move from place to place, hiding from authorities, fearing jail or deportation back to their homelands to face even greater hardship, and possibly death.
For countries close to the epicenters of the conflicts that have resulted in these forced migrations, the challenges of handling an influx of refugees can be overwhelming. For example, Lebanon has a population of six million people, almost a million and a half of which are refugees. Not only does this have a serious impact on the resources needed to look after those crossing the border, but it also threatens to upset the balance of power that maintains the uneasy peace between political factions within the country.
The UNHCR website notes: “In Lebanon, life is a daily struggle for more than a million Syrian refugees, who have little or no financial resources. Around 70 per cent live below the poverty line. There are no formal refugee camps and, as a result, Syrians are scattered throughout more than 2,100 urban and rural communities and locations, often sharing small basic lodgings with other refugee families in overcrowded conditions.”
Two Fellowship International Missionary Families
Two ministries supported by our Fellowship and staffed by Fellowship missionaries, Cedar Home and the Clementia Learning Centre, deal with the realities of the situation on a daily basis as they seek to provide for refugee children and their families.
Cedar Home in Beirut, Lebanon
|The Anayssi Family|
Fellowship International missionaries Karim and Rita Anayssi direct a Christian home for young girls, many who are Muslim and several who are Syrian refugees, all who are experiencing the love of Christ. Karim is looking for partnership with Fellowship churches to care for these girls.
Clementia Learning Centre in Beirut, Lebanon
|Bechara and Roula Karkafi|
Fellowship International missionaries Bechara and Roula Karkafi give direction and care for a Christian school specifically designed to minister and educate the thousands of Syrian refugee children living in Beirut. Clementia Learning Centre is looking for partnership with Fellowship churches to help care for these poor children.
God’s Word on the Care of Refugees
As Canadians, we understand immigrants. Almost all of us come from immigrant stock. But somehow welcoming refugees feels like the “elephant in the room” — too big and too scary to talk about much less deal with. The “elephant” often seems threatening. Its presence engenders fear. Its needs makes demands on our time, our money, our energy, our patience, and even on our faith.
But as believers, we can’t ignore “the elephant.”
“…the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, who shows no partiality…He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58:6, 7)
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The king will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you have done for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40)
The Elephant in the Room: Our Response?
A few of our Fellowship churches are engaged in helping the aliens, wanderers and strangers in our world. In fact, it was in response to an expressed desire of some of our churches that the Fellowship, through FAIR, formed a partnership with the Christian & Missionary Alliance in 2015 to facilitate their wish to engage in refugee sponsorship.
But “the elephant” is still daunting. How do you tackle something that big?
How do you “eat an elephant?” You know the answer: “One bite at a time.”
Which in our context would mean one refugee, or refugee family, at a time.
And that’s refugee sponsorship.
“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 good beginning.
Visit: https://www.fellowship.ca/CMA for more information on FAIR’s partnership with the Christian & Missionary Alliance as together they seek to help our churches through the process involved in sponsoring refugees. Contact us for further information at email@example.com.
The Fellowship is all of us as believers and imitators of Christ, working together on that “elephant” just one “bite” at a time, and knowing that in following the Lord’s command a blessing always follows:
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-drenched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isaiah 58:9-11)