What would you do if soldiers broke into your home and held your family hostage?
What would you do if your children were screaming, “Mommy! Daddy! Help Me?”
Where would you hide if you wended your way through the forest, only to find hucksters nestled in the bush, ready to rob and kill you?
In March of 2014, Antonio Guterres, then the United Nations’ High Commissioner of Refugees, stunned the world with this pronouncement: That 60 million people had fled the lands of their birth and were searching for a country to call ‘home’.
This marked the greatest number of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people (IDPs) in recorded history.
“Refugees! A Family’s Search for Freedom . . .” and a Church That Helped Them Find It’ recounts the story of “Every Refugee” down through the ages. Transcribed when a family of refugees found asylum at the Lick Creek Church of the Brethren in Bryan, Ohio, the church’s day-by-day experiences with their refugees reflect, in many ways, the tragedy of ‘Every Refugee’ down through the ages.
Cases in point:
. . . Moses leading the children of Israel to the Promised Land;
. . . Mary and Joseph fleeing with Jesus to escape King Herod’s henchmen;
. . . Now, let’s fast forward to the common era:
. . . During World War II, refugees in Hitler’s Germany fled by the millions to receiving countries;
. . . In 1975, 400,000 escaped Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos when Communist soldiers invaded their country. This was followed by another exodus of 400,000 who left under great duress.
By the time the conflict drew to a close, 1.5 million were among the desperate people who survived. Thus, history echoes the refugees’ story in every generation.
. . . Today, in 2016, we are no exception. As this post goes to press, world-wide, more than 65,000,000 people are searching for a country.
. . . Approximately one-third of these are Refugees who can never go home again; another third are Asylum-seekers who are searching for a safe place until the violence has subsided, and another third of them are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who are living in their home country, often with relatives or friends, but at a safer distance from the violence.
The time has come in our history whereby we must open our doors to ‘the other’. Only in doing so can we become the ‘hands and feet of Jesus’. It is a moral decision, a political decision, and it requires a humanitarian response. We must work together to salvage these vulnerable people.