The Global Refugee Crisis and Our Part [Video]

It’s died down a lot in the news. Yet the Global Refugee Crisis remains the worst refugee crisis since WWII. As of September 2015, the number of displaced persons had risen to 60 million, and they’re still coming.

“All the questions,” you might think, “have already been asked.” Yes, but they remain unanswered. This situation is complex, and there are no easy answers. But some things are certain: It’s wreaking havoc in and on Europe. It’s devastating the migrants. And it’s turning the world upside down.

1. How can Europe handle such an influx of people?

Many European countries, especially southern nations like Italy, Spain, and Greece, were already struggling financially. And with high unemployment rates: 12-25% overall, and 38-50% among young people. How then can Europe handle this crisis of more migrants on the move than during WWII? And what future will refugees find here?

2. Should Europe close its borders?

fence-in-the-cold

Whether it should or not, European borders are closing for the first time since WWII, with talk of even abolishing Schengen. For the first time since the Cold War, fences are going up. Even in Hungary which, ironically, was the first to start removing them after the Cold War in 1989.

3. How well is Europe handling the crisis?

Though this is not the first time Europe has faced refugee problems, it is the first time they’ve faced a mass influx from outside the region. And overall, it is not handling it well.

At least 2700 people died at Europe’s borders in 2015 alone. (Not counting those who died at sea or along the way.) Better policies and political choices could have prevented this.

4. Why are we seeing so few women and children?

refugees

More than 10,000 (of the 26,000 unaccompanied) children have gone missing, along with many women.

Registered at points of entry. But no one now knows where they are or what happened to them. Experts fear they’ve been sold into slavery or forced into sexual exploitation. [Sources: The GuardianBBC News, and Women’s Media Center.]

5. Do all the applicants get documents, and what happens to those who don’t?

Here in Italy, refugees refused documents get put out on the street. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, they cannot be forced to return to a country in which they fear persecution. And there are no funds for such operations anyway. So they get turned out on the streets.

Refugees now mill our streets, in small towns and cities. With nowhere to go, no money, and little hope. We can’t help but wonder: can’t the government see that these are possible criminals in the making? Who out of desperation to stay alive may try almost anything?

But the greatest question that comes to us is this: what is the church doing in such a time as this?

As far as we know, both Evangelicals and Catholics here in Italy have done little. Little out-reach to the immigrants, with almost no help centers.

Granted, even this is complex. It’s difficult, at best, to get into the state centers — even with offers of help. And difficult, as well, to help those on the streets. We were even threatened with arrest if we continue to help these illegal people.

So should we just stand by and do nothing?

Our answer is no. It should not be illegal to keep someone from starving or freezing. And to the question “Should we follow the law?” our answer is yes. But we always choose to follow the highest law. Christ’s law of love and compassion commands us to reach out with help.

Since our involvement in helping the refugees, many have asked us: “What can we do?”

And we’d like to take a look at that today. In what tangible, useful ways can we reach out to those God has allowed into our nations? Useful suggestions no matter where we live. Because every nation has its share of immigrants {and homeless}, even those who have not received refugees.

1. First, and most obvious, offer food, clothing, and blankets.

blankets

Even individual families can do much in this regard. Many of us can afford to buy a bag of groceries or some simple used garments.

2. Next, open hospitality centers.

nickel-dime-offerings

Either overnight centers like one Catholic priest we know of, and as some churches in the USA do for the homeless. Although even daytime hospitality points can offer a place to warm-up with coffee, tea, and sandwiches. As well as practical help with documents, providing needed items, etc.

In situations such as these, it is paramount that we lay aside our differences, and take up the soup ladle. Chopping carrots, side-by-side, to show the world that Christ truly is in our midst.

3. Hold language and culture courses.

Because teaching them the culture and language of their new land can enable them to better integrate. And could even turn possible foes into friends.

4. Help people regain their loss of dignity, and work through their PTSD.

Help them get counseling for their probable Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder. And treat them as equals. We have found that the greatest gift we can give is friendship. It helps them start believing in themselves again. And to see themselves as the persons of worth and dignity they are.

5. Get Bible resources into their hands.

la-bibbia

ChristForAllPeoples.org offers the Jesus Film DVDs in many languages. At Bible.com you can find the Bible in over 900 languages. And Creation to Christ has downloads of their Gospel presentation video in many languages. Check out the English version here.

This crisis has spawned great controversy. Disagreement over solutions, confusing policies. But there is one thing, in particular, that we believers must keep in mind.

Both refugees and immigrants are in our nations because God has allowed them to come.

Now, what does he want us to do with them? We could grumble and complain, resenting the extra burden. We could even ignore them and walk away.

Or we could see this crisis as God’s way of helping us complete the Great Commission.

Refugee church meeting
Refugee church meeting

“Go into all the nations,” God said. Yet so many around the world still need to hear the Good News of God’s love and mercy. So perhaps he decided to bring them to us, both refugees and immigrants.

The Mission Field is now right next door to us. People of many nations: Syrians, Iraqis, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and many African ethnicities. No one could ever go to all the nations, but they are now coming to us.

And now with the mission field right next door, what excuse do we have for not going?

Many would say fear. Especially fear of violence and terrorism. But remember, Christ’s perfect love casts out fear. God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love.

Perhaps in reading this, you wonder how to find these new neighbors in your area.

There’s a great mapping tool, called Mapping Center for Evangelism and Church Growth designed with this in mind. God has brought them: these new neighbors, from all over the world. Perhaps now living right next door to you. Find out where they are with this useful tool!

The refugees are here through God’s unseen hand. Now how will he use us to make himself known to them?


[Video via Gospel Frontier Missions.]

[Images ©TheScorziellos-Sheila]

14 thoughts on “The Global Refugee Crisis and Our Part [Video]

  1. Very grave situations for both host countries and refugees…it was good to hear your view point being in Europe. Yes, our own church offers shelter and food, as do most I know of in our city. We have many, many homeless, with also displaced peoples. But we also have many shelters and services in place, if not enough. My prayers go out to your country and thank you for sharing more information. Maybe I can do more here.

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    1. Yes the situations here are bad. And our prayer is that the church will get mobilized toward doing something. We’re in a pretty rural area so we don’t see a lot of refugees. But the ones we work with have heart-breaking stories. Yet, so many are just getting turned out on the street. It’s good that churches there are doing things to help. That is our prayer for Italy. But we have found that the greatest gift we can give them is just simple friendship. It helps them start believing in themselves again. Feeling like worthy, dignified human beings. Thanks for reading, Cynthia, and please keep the situation in prayer.

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  2. Sheila this is a very well presented with thoughtful analysis with practical solutions to several touchy subjects. I especially enjoyed the possibility of this actually being part of the Great Commission.

    Unless someone changes from the inside, they’ll never actually see much change. Change the heart and you’ll change the person. I think all of your suggestions are doable as well. In the States, this challenge is meant with emotional hysterics rather than common sense. Yes I agree we must protect our country and I am concerned that not many women and children are among the refugees also . God gave us a brain, now let’s figure out how to solve this problem with some of your ideas.. Blessings

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    1. Thanks Ellie, for your encouragement. It is hard to balance all the issues. We can’t just ignore the risks involved, but neither can we just ignore need. I’m grateful you found these suggestions helpful. Now we just have to roll our sleeves up and get to work, right? And may the Lord help us to see that every person we meet was put on our path by God!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a sad truth of the problems that lie right in front of us in nearly every country. There are many great practical ways that we can touch lives for God and help meet the needs, instead of pawning all off on the government. If everyone did something, it would make a major impact on the world as a whole. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. So true, Tom. No matter where, we will always find needs all around us. No one of us can do it all. But if we each do our little, it can become much. And meeting those needs can often be the key to the lock that many people have placed on their hearts. Our open hands, hearts, and wallets can open hearts. Love never fails!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know Belle. It was to us too. But as my husband says, OK then, arrest us. I’d sooner get arrested for doing right. Than have to live with knowing I didn’t do it. And if we ever do go to prison, we’ll be in good company. Like Daniel’s 3 friends in the fiery furnace weren’t alone, neither would we be alone!

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