Project HELP: Refugees

Project HELP: Refugees

A young mother. A new father. A baby boy. They must have been frightened as they fled during the night. Their biggest fear may have been that they could be found out if the baby cried while they escaped. We don’t know all the steps they took in getting to the border, but there must have been relief to realize they were safe from the cruel leader of the country from which they fled.

This story of a refugee family could be the story of thousands of refugees in our world today. But this family’s story is written, not in today’s newsfeed, but in Matthew 2:13–15 as we read of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus’ escape to Egypt. Joseph was warned by God in a dream to take his family and flee, so his baby boy would not be killed by Herod. Jesus and his family escaped to another country as refugees. The writers of Seeking Refuge said, “Jesus not only was a refugee; He also taught His disciples in many ways that inform how we can respond to refugees.”1

Beginning this fall, WMU launches a 4-year focus on the issue of refugees through Project HELP: Refugees. The crisis of people leaving their homes has taken place before our eyes as we watch news footage and see people leaving places such as Syria, Iraq, Somalia, and Myanmar. World Relief gives the definition of a refugee: “under both international and U.S. law, an individual who has fled his or her country of origin because of a credible fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, political opinion, national origin, or social group.”2 This definition does not include people who stay within their own country, but persons who cross country boundaries. Other organizations, such as Baptist Global Response, also include as refugees those who are forced to leave their homes and cross country borders because of natural or man-made disasters.3 These could be drought, poverty, or violence.

As Christians, our response to the refugee crisis must be guided by Scripture. The Bible has much to say about the foreigner, stranger, or sojourner among us. Leviticus 19:33–34 states, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (NIV4)

Open your Bible and read other passages: Deuteronomy 10:18–19, Matthew 25:31–46, and Hebrews 13:2. Throughout this year, follow a series in Missions Mosaic called “Refugees in the Bible.” This series will give you more in-depth study about refugees in Scripture.

During this year, we will look closely at our responses to refugees. We will search for ways that we can pray for and minister to refugees among us. We will also look at appropriate ways of sharing this issue with preschoolers, so they do not become frightened by talk of difficult subjects such as war and hardship.

Each quarter, a leader article for Project HELP: Refugees will be on wmu.com/preschool and in Mission Friends Leader. As we look at our response to refugees, we will find opportunities to follow Jesus’ words to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

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1. Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Dr. Issam Smeir, Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publishers, 2016), 33.

2. A Church Leader’s Tool Kit on the Syrian Refugee Crisis (World Relief, 2016), 15.

3. Jeff Palmer, “Refugee or Internally Displaced: What’s the Difference?” (www.gobgr.org, June 26, 2017).

4. Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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