According to Wikipedia, a refugee, generally speaking, is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely.
The world is full of refugees right now. In fact, right now, 152 million (152,000,000) people are considered refugees. There are more refugees on our planet right now, than people living in Russia, the 9th most populated country in the world. That means that if we treated refugees as a nation of their own, they would bump Russia down to the 10th most populated country.
This blows my mind. So many people are living without a safe place to call home, right now.
Of course this is a big deal, and you’ve been hearing about it on the news for years, but each year, instead of getting better, the situation gets worse.
I could continue to hit us all over the head with stats and figures about how serious the situation is for the world right now, but it seems like it isn’t really doing any good, since I know that the news is reporting these stats regularly, and the situation continues to get worse.
So instead, I’ll point you to Matthew 2:13–23.
In this passage you will find that Jesus himself became a refugee. He had to flee the country he was born in, and live in Egypt in order to be safe from an evil government bent on destroying him. Jesus, born a Hebrew, returned to Egypt, the land of his peoples enslavement to escape death.
Perhaps you’ll argue that Jesus is a special situation, since he is the son of God.
May I point you to the Pilgrims?
You do realize they were refugees, right? They were fleeing religious persecution in their own country, and fled to the Americas to find the freedom to worship they were seeking. Many of us in the United States today would not be here if it were not for the Pilgrims, and others like them who fled their governments and established themselves in a new place that welcomed them.
The refugee crisis is complex, and terrifically hard to understand, and frankly I don’t have any new answers to these questions. Luckily, we don’t need new answers.
Matthew 25:31-46 says this.
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’
“The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’
“Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The word stranger can be translated as refugee, or ‘other’. Someone not like us. I hope that when it is my turn to be judged, I am found on the side of the refugee, but it is not enough for me to just hope. I must take action.
Now excuse me while I wrestle with what this must mean to me in MY life.