What we can do beyond sending our donations
By Connie Faber
Since few Westerners have actually seen war, we are unable to visualize the tragedy and suffering that comes with the kind of violence that drives people from their homes. Statistics can be compelling, but in early September it was an image of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish shore, that sparked international outrage. Pictures of a little boy in his red shirt and blue jeans opened our hearts to the struggles of 3.8 million Syrians who have sought refuge in other countries as well as the 7.6 million who are displaced within Syria itself. Do something, the world cried. Governments, including the United States, responded by increasing the number of refugees they would welcome.
World Relief, founded as the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals and an agency that connects to our evangelical commitments, is one of nine agencies that will resettle the 85,000 refugees that the U.S. plans to accept in 2016. World Relief recently hosted a webinar during which staff members talked about the resettling process and how local churches can support refugees.
Mennonite Central Committee, the inter-Mennonite relief, development and peace agency that is also addressing the refugee crisis, represents our Anabaptist roots. MCC also recently hosted a webinar during which staff with MCC partners in Syria told how they are working with those who choose to stay in the Middle East.
It goes without saying that MCC and World Relief as well as many other faith-based agencies working to address the refugee crisis need our financial support. Just recently MB Mission opened a project account to support the work of Mennonite Brethren in Germany who are working with Syrian refugees coming to their country. But what else can we do?
See with God’s eyes. According to LifeWay Research, just 12 percent of American evangelical Christians say that the Bible is a primary influence on their views regarding immigration. Let’s not let a statistic like this be true of U.S. Mennonite Brethren regarding refugees. The Bible should inform our response as disciples of Jesus to the global refugee crisis. Both MCC and World Relief provide resources that can educate us about what the Bible says.
Advocate for peace. In the face of complex political, religious, historical and economic issues that are at the root of the current conflict in Syria, it may seem naïve to suggest that peace is the answer. And yet that is exactly what MCC partners like Riad Jarjour of Syria say. “Please work on ending the conflict and bringing peace,” says Jarjour. “Let’s rebuild our countries (so that) people stay and live as they did in the past.”
Followers of Christ Jesus are called to be God’s agents of change in a hurting and broken world. Deuteronomy 10:18-19 reminds us that God “defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing,” and commands us to “love those who are foreigners.” God cares for the vulnerable and so should we. For additional information on ways to address the refugee crisis, visit www.usmb.org/refugee-resources.