G od loves refugees. He cares for refugees. He identifies with refugees. When we love God we should love the things that he loves.
Deuteronomy says that we should love the stranger because we too were strangers. When was the last time that you were a stranger? Do you remember how it feels to the new kid? Do you know the anxiety that comes from not knowing your way around and not wanting to look foolish? Have you felt the loneliness of being in the crowd? Jesus doesn’t leave us alone, he didn’t wait for us to call out to him but he came to us. In the same way we need to welcome those who come to our land searching for safety and a future.
Almost every major character from Adam and Eve all the way through the end of the New Testament was on a migrant. They were strangers in foreign lands, searching for rest, seeking a home, proclaiming God’s Kingdom. Abraham left the land of his father in hope of a land that God would show him (Genesis 12). Abraham’s first son Ishmael was born to Hagar, an Egyptian slave-girl, a foreigner (Genesis 16). They were later sent away and forced to wander the desert alone (Genesis 21). Joseph, a descendent of Abraham and Isaac, was sold into slavery and trafficked as a house slave (Genesis 37). He brought his people to Egypt in a mass migration, to escape famine (Genesis 46). Moses led the Hebrew people through the desert in search of their own country. David was a political refugee and sought refuge among the Philistines (1 Samuel 27). The whole Israel nation was exiled to Persia (2 Kings 15, 17) and then later returned to pick up the pieces and rebuild their former home (Ezra, Nehemiah). Jesus himself was a refugee and fled to Egypt as a baby (Matthew 2). Jesus’s final command was for his followers to go to all the nations and preach the gospel of his Kingdom (Matthew 28). Which means that as Christians we too are called to be on the move. These are only some of the highlights. There are many more stories of God loving the outsider and the foreigner. When God loves refugees shouldn’t we love them too?
The Bible isn’t just a story about refugees. The Bible is the story of God providing asylum to refugees. The whole Bible is a long story of God’s grand plan to provide an eternal home to those who have no home. He is preparing a place for us where there will be no more tears. God cares for refugees. He provided manna from heaven for food and provided water out of rocks. He is still taking caring of refugees. I have heard many stories from refugees from places like Afghanistan and Nigeria how they prayed and God answered their prayer providing them with a sandwich, a room to stay or a friend. Sometimes God has used me to answer their prayer. What a privilege! A friend of mine once told me, “If you don’t know where you should serve God, find where God is working and get busy”. You can be sure that God is pleased when we show love to refugees.
God says when you love refugees you are really loving me. Jesus says, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25) Jesus says that when we care for the hungry, and share our possessions with those who have less we are sharing with him! When we welcome refugees and migrants and visit those in prison, we are showing friendship to Jesus!
In the Old Testament, God went with the Israelites through the desert. Moses was afraid of leading the people but God told him “I will be with you!” (Exodus 3). God himself was a migrant moving with the people! Throughout the book of Exodus, God traveled with the people and he continues to travel with the migrants today.
It is wonderful to be a blessing for others. But, if you share your life with a refugee you will also be blessed. I am convinced that God is not only bringing people to Europe to be blessed but he is bringing them to be a blessing. I treasure my friendships with Iranian and Afghan refugees. We have laughed and cried together. I have taught them to get around my adopted home in Salzburg and they have taught me about their culture. We have shared delicious steaming plates of kabuli palau, and American hamburgers off the grill. Experiences I would have never had, if I hadn’t put myself in a place where I would come into contact with people from another culture.
Refugees are people. They are in a desperate situation and have come to us for help. They are standing at our doorstep. Will we open the door? Or will we slam the door in their face?