Our Part in the Global Refugee Crisis [Video]

It’s died down a lot in the news. Yet the Global Refugee Crisis remains the worst refugee crisis since WWII. As of September 2015, the number of displaced persons had risen to 60 million, and they’re still coming.

“All the questions,” you might think, “have already been asked.” Yes, but they remain unanswered. This situation is complex, and there are no easy answers. But some things are certain: It’s wreaking havoc in and on Europe. It’s devastating the migrants. And it’s turning the world upside down.

1. How can Europe handle such an influx of people?

Many European countries, especially southern nations like Italy, Spain, and Greece, were already struggling financially. And with high unemployment rates: 12-25% overall, and 38-50% among young people. How then can Europe handle this crisis of more migrants on the move than during WWII? And what future will refugees find here?

2. Should Europe close its borders?

Whether it should or not, European borders are closing for the first time since WWII, with talk of even abolishing Schengen. For the first time since the Cold War, fences are going up. Even in Hungary which, ironically, was the first to start removing them after the Cold War in 1989.

3. How well is Europe handling the crisis?

Though this is not the first time Europe has faced refugee problems, it is the first time they’ve faced a mass influx from outside the region. And overall, it is not handling it well.

At least 2700 people died at Europe’s borders in 2015 alone. (Not counting those who died at sea or along the way.) Better policies and political choices could have prevented this.

4. Why are we seeing so few women and children?

More than 10,000 (of the 26,000 unaccompanied) children have gone missing, along with many women.

Registered at points of entry. But no one now knows where they are or what happened to them. Experts fear they’ve been sold into slavery or forced into sexual exploitation. [Sources: The GuardianBBC News, and Women’s Media Center.]

5. Do all the applicants get documents, and what happens to those who don’t?

Here in Italy, refugees refused documents get put out on the street. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, they cannot be forced to return to a country in which they fear persecution. And there are no funds for such operations anyway. So they get turned out on the streets.

Refugees now mill our streets, in small towns and cities. With nowhere to go, no money, and little hope. We can’t help but wonder: can’t the government see that these are possible criminals in the making? Who out of desperation to stay alive may try almost anything?

But the greatest question that comes to us is this: what is the church doing in such a time as this?

As far as we know, both Evangelicals and Catholics here in Italy have done little. Little out-reach to the immigrants, with almost no help centers.

Granted, even this is complex. It’s difficult, at best, to get into the state centers — even with offers of help. And difficult, as well, to help those on the streets. We were even threatened with arrest if we continue to help these illegal people.

So should we just stand by and do nothing?

It should not be illegal to keep someone from starving or freezing. And to the question “Should we follow the law?” Of course, but we must always obey the highest law. Christ’s law of love and compassion commands us to reach out with help.

Since our involvement in helping the refugees, many have asked us: “What can we do?”

And we’d like to take a look at that today. In what tangible, useful ways can we reach out to those God has allowed into our nations? Useful suggestions no matter where we live. Because every nation has its share of immigrants {and homeless}, even those who have not received refugees.

1. First, and most obvious, offer food, clothing, and blankets.

Even individual families can do much in this regard. Many of us can afford to buy a bag of groceries or some simple used garments.

2. Next, open hospitality centers.

Either overnight centers as some churches do for the homeless. Although even daytime hospitality points can offer a place to warm-up with coffee, tea, and sandwiches. As well as practical help with documents, providing needed items, etc.

In situations such as these, it is paramount that we lay aside our differences, and take up the soup ladle. Chopping carrots, side-by-side, to show the world that Christ truly is in our midst.

3. Hold language and culture courses.

Because teaching them the culture and language of their new land can enable them to better integrate. And could even turn possible foes into friends.

4. Help people regain their loss of dignity, and work through their PTSD.

Help them get counseling for their probable Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder. And treat them as equals. We have found that the greatest gift we can give is friendship. It helps them start believing in themselves again. And to see themselves as the persons of worth and dignity they are.

5. Get Bible resources into their hands.

ChristForAllPeoples.org offers the Jesus Film DVDs in many languages. At Bible.com you can find the Bible in over 900 languages. And Creation to Christ has downloads of their Gospel presentation video in many languages. Check out the English version here.

This crisis has spawned great controversy. Disagreement over solutions, confusing policies. But there is one thing, in particular, that we believers must keep in mind.

Both refugees and immigrants are in our nations because God has allowed them to come.

Now, what does he want us to do with them? We could grumble and complain, resenting the extra burden. We could even ignore them and walk away.

Or we could see this crisis as God’s way of helping us complete the Great Commission.

“Go into all the nations,” God said. Yet so many around the world still need to hear the Good News of God’s love and mercy. So perhaps he decided to bring them to us, both refugees and immigrants.

The Mission Field is now right next door to us. People of many nations: Syrians, Iraqis, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and many African ethnicities. No one could ever go to all the nations, but they are now coming to us.

And now with the mission field right next door, what excuse do we have for not going?

Many would say fear. Especially fear of violence and terrorism. But remember, Christ’s perfect love casts out fear. God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love.

Perhaps in reading this, you wonder how to find these new neighbors in your area.

There’s a great mapping tool, called Mapping Center for Evangelism and Church Growth designed with this in mind. God has brought them: these new neighbors, from all over the world. Perhaps now living right next door to you. Find out where they are with this useful tool!

The refugees are here through God’s unseen hand. Now how will he use us to make himself known to them?


[Video via Gospel Frontier Missions.]

[Images ©BibleSpotlight]

Author: Sheila

American born, Italian at heart. Happily married over 40 years, living in Italy almost 30. Mom of two, and nonna to 9 grandkids. Missionary with a passion for God's Word and discipling others to to walk in his ways and give their all in devotion and consecration to him. For He alone is worthy of all.

2 thoughts

  1. Thank you for this insightful post. I am from the US and have been wondering how the refugee crisis is affecting European nations. You spotlight it it well. I wonder what we in the United States and other countries can help the church to minister for these people. Can you shed some light on that?

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    1. Thanks Pete for your concern over this situation. It’s complicated. I personally would not recommend sending money overseas for this; too much dispersion. But what can you do? Prayer of course tops the list. Then if you know of any reputable organizations you could volunteer at home or abroad. I put a link toward the end of the article to the Mapping Center for Evangelism & Church Growth. It could help you find some areas in which to reach out. We do some work here with the refugees and it’s quite a complicated affair. Sadly, many (businesses, etc.), and even governments sometimes, are making a lot of money off this situation. What a shame. It’s hard to know what to do. But prayer can change things!! God bless!

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