Recently, my wife and I had the opportunity to sit down for dinner with a family of refugees who escaped a very serious and heart breaking experience in western Africa. By God’s sovereign direction, they were able to flee from their terrible circumstances and seek refuge in the United States. Over the course of our meal, it became apparent to both me and my wife that though we were both raised in what would be considered a privileged home, this family carried a joy that can only be achieved through suffering. As they shared their story, it was evident where their hope lied and by the end of their powerful testimony, we had all shared a few joyful tears.
Jesus Christ, A Refugee King
As Christians, hearing the stories of refugees is so powerful because the life of a refugee is part of our adopted heritage. Our Father and King, Jesus Christ, came into this world as a refugee with “nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). Just shortly after his birth, his family was forced to flee to Egypt for safety and protection. Over the course of his public ministry, King Jesus would borrow lodging and transportation as he travelled from city to city and eventually die in a borrowed tomb.
If the God who created the universe would humble himself to enter into the world as a defenseless baby born in a stable, shouldn’t we, as his adopted sons and daughters, be the first ones to offer our homes and hearts to those who have no place to stay? If the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills came not to be served but to serve, shouldn’t we, as heirs with Christ, be the first to serve those who cannot serve themselves? And if the immortal God who deserves all praise came to die a brutal criminal’s death on a cross, shouldn’t we, as those who received mercy when we deserved judgement, be willing to spend our lives fighting for those who are dying in refugee camps?
God So Loved the World
This world is not our home. For believers in Jesus, this world will be a memory in the back of our minds as we spend an eternity singing the praises of our God in heaven. And though we long for that day, Jesus gave his church a mission while it remains in this world. We are to be the witnesses of Christ in “Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
It is estimated that there are over 60,000 refugees or direct descendants of refugees in Guilford County alone. That means that in just Guilford County, over 1 in every 10 people is a refugee or a son or daughter of a refugee. As a people who are also longing for our homeland, might we meet them around our tables and in our homes and show them that the love of Jesus breaks through any cultural or political barrier. John 3:16 says God so loved the world, and so, might we show with our lives that he loves the peoples of all nations.
-Nicholas Gercken (Covenant Member)