Today is World Refugee Day. For decades, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has sponsored and resettled refugees-persons outside of their country of nationality who are unable or unwilling to return because of persecution (or a well-founded fear of persecution) on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Since 1949, our Refugee and Immigration Ministries, funded predominantly by Week of Compassion offerings, has resettled approximately 35,000 refugees. Responding to Jesus’ call to welcome the stranger is one way we live out the Gospel. After all, our own Savior was a refugee, with nowhere to lay his head.
Currently, there are more than 15.5 million refugees in the world. As climate change becomes more evident, affecting especially those in developing areas, we have coined a term for a new type of refugee: the “environmental refugee.” Also on the rise is the number of people fleeing to cities-“urban refugees”- rather than to often remote refugee camps. There are tens of thousands of displaced persons no longer searching for a temporary shelter or camp but rather have had to search for long-lasting, durable solutions to displacement. These solutions are few and far between-and this has become a critical aspect of the immigration and refugee ministry we carry out ecumenically. While we Disciples have helped to resettle 35,000 people, there are still countless numbers of God’s children roaming the planet, desperate for a place to call home. Thus, we still have much work to do to continue to welcome the stranger, the displaced, and the vulnerable in our midst. For weren’t our ancestors once, too, aliens in the land of Egypt?
For more information on our denominational work to welcome the stranger, click here.
For information on our ecumenical collaboration with Church World Service and its long and effective history of immigration and refugee ministry, click here.
For a church bulletin insert to help your congregation acknowledge World Refugee Day this Sunday, click here.