by Evi Rodemann
One of my best friends has “adopted” a refugee from Syria, helped him to find a flat, and connected him to some friends and also to church. I had the chance of meeting this dear man a few times. Hearing his story, and the pain and fears he went through, has been heartbreaking and has haunted me for many weeks.
Last Sunday, this Syrian man got baptized, witnessing to the transforming power of Jesus.
What a tremendous joy to watch as this story unfolds! To see God´s hand upon the refugee and drawing him close to Himself–because there were people believing more in God than in a refugee crisis. People who practiced reconciliation, acceptance, and unconditional love! People who listened to his heartbreaking story and cared.
Yes, the world is going through a massive change. Not only do we face financial, ecological, geographical, political, demographic, and religious changes, but we are also going through a rapid change of ethnic diversity. Often, one thing influences the other.
As a result, we have seen invasion and conflict, prejudice and persecution, changing country borders and evolving and blending rich cultures. The present refugee crisis is frightening for many as rules and laws are laid aside, nations are overwhelmed, and the ethnic and religious make-up of countries will change forever. Many political leaders increase (rather than dissipate) the unease.
Sometimes, the crisis tells us that God has lost the control. Do we listen to the crisis? Do we believe God is still in control?
He is still God. He still sees. And He sees the needs of the people around us–it could be our neighbour, our study mate, or the migrant and refugee. Psalm 146:9 says, “The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”
Recently, having read the story of Abraham, Sara, and Hagar, I came across the etymology of the word “Hagar,” which means migrant, a refugee. As the story unfolds in Genesis, we clearly see God caring for Hagar and her son. He goes after her; God sees her misery. Should this not also once again become our own commitment before God?
We are asked to go out and reach towards the other person, being Christ to someone who might have never heard of forgiveness and eternal life.
A friend of mine, Peter, who moved into a Swedish ghetto and lives among hundreds of migrants, said recently, “Christian faith is often like a stoma pouch to people… for some it is helpful to survive, but for others not even noticeable.”
It is a daily decision to be made to be the light and not just a stoma pouch who goes on survival mode.
As Christians knowing the source for reconciliation and forgiveness in Jesus, we have the privilege of sharing it with people who have never heard. Let us not be driven by fear, but instead by the gospel of truth and reconciliation.
(Note: The church community under the European Evangelical Alliance has released a Call to Action recently.)
- Be as generous as you can be; welcome as much as you can.
- Be aware of your own prejudices towards other peoples.
- Be a peacemaker in your community.
- Do not discriminate against refugees who do not share the same belief; instead, love them and embrace the stranger.
- Don’t overlook the opportunity to share the gospel.
- Celebrate the cultural diversity of the one Body of Christ.
- Pray for thousands of such Syrian refugee stories to come to light as God heals and restores them.
Evi Rodemann (@erodemann) is executive director of the European youth mission movement and congress called Mission-Net. She loves young Europeans and seeing them discover and use their God-given calling in this world gives her the greatest joy.