There are more displaced people in the world today than there are people in the United Kingdom. Despite a serious uptick in news coverage due to “popular” conflicts like the war in Syria and the Rohingya crisis, the number of asylum-seekers and refugees, about 66 million, is rising.
Briefly, refugees were a hot topic. But because of compassion fatigue, disillusionment, and a news cycle that pushes fresh, trendier breaking news, their moment is fading.
I spent the last two years working with uprooted populations. I came alongside Syrian, Iraqi, and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. I worked with a resettlement organization in the United States. And I worked with an international development alliance focused on trauma relief, legal protections, and strengthening human rights around the world.
I’ve learned that people want to understand the realities of displacement, but don’t know where to begin. Many people want to help refugees, but simply don’t know how.
In this series—“Refuge”—I aim to respond to both of those needs.
“Refuge” has three purposes:
- To shed light on the reality of displacement. It is a hard reality, filled with challenges and heart-wrenching truths, but also beauty and hope. Telling the stories of refugees and those who work with and for them is essential to demystify the truth about global displacement today. We need to understand the trials of migrants and their advocates to find solutions.
- To provide a blueprint for action. Refugeeism often seems a massive, distant problem. In many ways, it is. Images in magazines and on TV screens add to the feeling that we are merely spectators, helpless to actually do anything to affect change. But the challenge of refugeeism is also present, near, and personal. There are concrete steps we can take today to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the uprooted and to quench the inevitability of forced displacement down the road.
- To describe a theology of refugeeism. All people everywhere have an interest in aiding refugees and cutting out the causes of the enormous and painful displacement we see today. Christians especially have a mission to sojourners and the dispossessed. We have the responsibility—and the blessing—to think of the refugee crisis not only with our heads, but also with our hearts. People of faith consider the crisis not only in terms of sociology, politics, and history, but also in terms of spirituality and autobiography. Our Lord was a refugee. So were our forefathers. In some ways, so are we. So just as we have a theology of sanctification and suffering, peace and forgiveness, we can also have a robust and practical theology of encountering (and being) the foreigner, the sojourner, the refugee.
Over the course of this series, I intend to stick to the following outline:
The Gospel in a Time of Refugees
- The Refugee Crisis and the Church Today
- Refuge and Refugees in Church History
- Why the Church Is In a Unique Position to Serve
- A Theology of Refugees
Responding to Refugeeism — What You, I, and the Church Can Do
- Humanitarian Aid
- Responding to Root Causes
- The Contributions of Refugees
- Addressing Concerns and Objections
- Practical Next Steps for You and Your Church
Please follow along each Monday to learn more about the condition of refugees in the world and how we can think, act, and believe better about them. Read, respond, share, grow.