What can Christians do about the current Refugee Crisis?
By Karla Petty
Sometimes the weight of evil in the world is crushing. One of the most alarming issues today is that of the Syrian refugee crisis. On the news, we see streams of people pouring over open countryside to escape desperate conditions in their homeland. They would have to be desperate. Only the most desperate people leave everything they know - homes, family members, education, career, communities, entire lives, entire histories. And they leave by the hundreds of thousands, willing to face the possibility of death, at sea maybe, or at border crossings, to escape the near-certainty of death in their cities of origin. They are betting on marginal probabilities with their lives. That is desperation. And it is hope.
And many of us, in comparatively safe situations, receive these messages and images and wonder what to do. Sometimes in my head, the encouraging words of “you can do anything!” easily twist into “you should do EVERYTHING”, especially when it’s a seed planted in performance-driven soil. There is a certain amount of guilt that comes with my limitations, and if I let it, it can turn to crippling inaction, or maybe worse, a presence too thin to do any one thing well, both scenarios preventing meaningful engagement. It’s a pretty neat trick on Evil’s part, isn’t it?
James Russell Lowell once said “All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action.” At the heart of Coracle’s mission is forming Christ in us for action in service to the Kingdom of God. God’s intimate knowledge of who he made us to be, where he has placed us, and our own willingness to be used animates us. He is sovereign over me and my limitations. He actually created me so that I couldn’t do everything, on purpose. But some parts of our call to action for the Kingdom are universal. At the center of that call is the call to love God first, and also to love our neighbors.
Not everyone is to take to the sea and rescue fleeing refugees on makeshift boats, or bring displaced people into their homes. But all of us are called to love as Christ loved, and to show that love in real ways to all whom He shows to us. An openness to loving people is a symptom of Jesus’ love in us. This bubbles over into a holistic kind of Christianity, a Christianity that is acted out in every moment of our lives, waking and sleeping, that is painted on the lintels of our doors (and cubicles), written into our checkbooks, heard in our conversations, felt through what flows out of us from the Spirit. When I live from this place, I don’t get stuck on the things I can’t do, I am energized by the things I can do.
Stephan Bauman, President of World Relief, said in a recent sermon he gave at The Falls Church Anglican, “love discovers neighbors... it doesn’t define who will be our neighbors”. There are thousands of issues for us to be aware of, stay informed about, and many asks are made every day of our time and resources. To sort through all of this, and to find freedom to act meaningfully for the Kingdom, we must remain connected in love and listening to God. From that place we quickly find our limitations in His strength, our finiteness in His infiniteness, and in our silence, His voice. He will open our eyes to the opportunities He has for us, and free us to act joyfully in them. Then we can pray to see all of our neighbors as Christ sees them, and to empower us to respond with our gifts, to include our limitations, to those He brings to us in His name.
Often an Anglican service closes with these words, said together: “And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.”
Karla Petty is the Communications Manager for Coracle.