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24
Sep

A Few Thoughts on the Global Refugee Crisis

Posted on September 24th, 2015

For the last month I have been deeply affected by the pictures and stories of tens of thousands of refugees pouring into Europe. Then, this past week Geri and I were in Germany, speaking and interacting with church leaders from Eastern and Western Europe.

We saw refugees in the streets, railway stations, and small villages. We had dinner with one of our German pastor friends about his small “suburban” village of 600 that recently received 57 refugees. The town formed a task force of over 50 people to serve their massive needs (from clothing, to language study, to integration into schools, etc.). It was inspiring.

This crisis goes beyond Europe to the world as a whole. We can expect greater migrations of peoples seeking stability and opportunity for years to come in the West.

So how do we look at the news of what we are seeing – both theologically and practically? I offer you a few thoughts for your consideration, many of which I heard from some of the European Christians wrestling with this escalating crisis:

  • Let’s remember Jesus was born in Asia in a borrowed barn before He and His family became refugees in Africa. Moses, Daniel, Priscilla, Aquila, Ezekiel, and the Israelites were also refugees. Onesimus was a run away slave of Philemon, a refugee who ran away from home and eventually became Bishop of Ephesus. Throughout history God has advanced His purposes by moving peoples around from one nation to another nation.
  • God is sending people to us in Europe and North America so that we might love them and preach the gospel to them. Many of us have been praying for the Muslim world for decades. God is answering our prayers by bringing them to our doorsteps. There is a great spiritual hunger among many who have become disillusioned with Islam (Yes, persecuted Christians and others who are fleeing poverty are also coming.).
  • If we close our doors to refugees and immigrants out of fear of losing our standard of living and comfort, we may be closing our doors to Jesus Himself. Remember Matt. 25:35 “I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

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  • We must lead the way in asking God to give wisdom to President Obama and other Western political leaders. The issues are complex. How does one determine who truly qualifies as a refugee? How do government leaders screen out ISIS and others seeking to spread terror? At what point are poorer countries like Serbia, Slovakia, Hungary and Greece unable to receive more refugees?

I am challenged for my own life, and for our church, here in New York City. Over 75% of the 2.3 million people here in our section of New York (Queens) were born outside our country. Have I become so comfortable that I am not seeing what surrounds me in my neighborhood?

What might be God’s invitation to you and I… to our families… to our churches?

Pete

PS: Join me on 9/30 for a 90-minute EH Leader Roundtable discussion. Sign-up here.

 

 

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