6 Ways to Respond to the Refugee Crisis

As a parent, I feel like I can be much more perceptive to world events than I would be otherwise. I have a mother's heart and when I hear stories of mothers struggling to provide the very basics {think safety and clean water and food} for their children, my heart breaks, especially when it's through no fault of their own. I am quick to think of how I can help, what I can do and how I can align myself to step in to relieve their burdens. I must confess, I spent a lot of time scrolling past posts about the refugee crisis last year. I saw the images of young children bloodied and crying. I saw pictures of parents fleeing war zones holding children in their arms and I saw a baby washed up on the shore. I didn't stop to hear more. I just couldn't. There were gaps in the news coverage and there would be days that I could ignore what was happening in the world because it was easy to turn it off. The refugee crisis isn't anything new, it started in 2011, but it's no longer easy to ignore. I finally stopped scrolling by and took a second to stop and process the largest humanitarian crisis of our time. It's becoming harder and harder to look away with current news events and many people are just now opening their eyes to the scope of this issue. I'm hearing desperate pleas from friends who genuinely want to know what they can do, how they can understand this crisis and how it is that they should be responding right now. I'm hoping that I can share some of what opened my eyes and how our family has been responding.
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photo credit Jon Warren 

6 Ways to Respond to the Refugee Crisis


Don't respond in fear

It's easy to hear conversations about refugees and information on immigration and for there to be an undertone of fear involved in those conversations. Fear chases away compassion, which in turn destroys our ability to respond effectively.


syria, immigration, refugee, camps, humanitarian
photo credit Jon Warren 

Get to know the individual


I feel very fortunate to live in a state that has welcomed refugees. I've spent time serving them meals, teaching them about American culture, listening to their stories, and nurturing their children in our church nursery. If you don't personally know any refugees and you look at "them" as a group, not as individuals, then you should take some time to get to know some of their stories. 

Worldwide, there are more than 65 million people that have been forcibly displaced from their homes. More than half of those displaced are children. This count is higher than at any other recorded time in history. Once you get to know their stories you can see that they are families just like yours fleeing violence. Wouldn't you do the same? When we label a group of people we dehumanize them. Let us not have blurred vision when we are looking at the people that are affected by this crisis. We all struggle to see the world the way that God sees the world, so pray that your eyes are opened to seeing the individual. If you do not know a refugee personally, spend some time hearing stories of those that are. Listen to the violence that these children have seen and you will grow to understand what it is that people are fleeing from.



Educate yourself

With all due respect, social media is not your best source of news. There is a good deal of misinformation out there. As a Christian woman, I found this article about What the Bible says about How to Treat Refugees very eye opening. 

Support local organizations

Those individuals that I know that are in the United States with Visas and Green cards are very concerned right now with immigration issues. They aren't always sure where to turn for help and navigating a different culture can sometimes be very overwhelming. World Relief is a great organization providing help. You can also contact local ESL programs to find out about other organizations that are working in your community. Sometimes just lending an ear and letting someone know that they are not unwelcome, unwanted or unloved is what those in crisis need to hear right now.

Advocate

We live in a democracy and have elected officials to be our voice. Make sure that your elected officials know the voice that they are representing. It takes just a few minutes to write to your congressman. You can also make a phone call.

Support global organizations


There are many groups at work overseas helping refugees resettle. Many of these people have been away from their home for years in temporary housing. I have heard stories of those families that prepared to leave their home and before they left, they cleaned their house so that it was ready for their return. I've also been told despite having very few personal possessions with them that if you ask many of the individuals in refugee camps they will have their house key on them.

There are women and children and families currently living in exile with no end in sight. Several years ago I was able to go to Uganda to see the work that World Vision was doing first hand and since then, I have been blown away by work they do all over the world. World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization that has been at work for more than 60 years helping people regardless of their faith. They have a strong professional reputation and have been working in the middle east before the refugee crisis began.

It's easy to want to do something, but not know how. This is exactly how I felt, so one day, I signed up to become a refugee responder. For $29 a month you can help provide critical essentials to a refugee and provide health assistance, emergency supplies, shelter, food, clean water, education and safe places for children to play and learn.

There are many other global organizations at work, doing good things, World Vision is an organization that I am passionate about. Do your research and find one that you are passionate about.

It's been hard for me to know how to speak up exactly on this issue on my blog. You may have noticed that it has been business as usual and just because I'm not writing about this crisis, doesn't mean that I'm not doing something about it. Sometimes we all need a distraction like vinyl covered cups or a yummy recipe. This is something I wrote and shared on my personal Facebook page this past week:


syria, immigration, refugee, camps, humanitarian
photo credit Jon Warren 

Six words continue to run through my head when I think of the refugee crisis; for such a time as this. Esther was a refugee living in a foreign land and while I am not in a royal position, I feel like because I am the daughter of the King, maybe, just maybe I'm not to remain silent at this time. Perhaps our royal position in the kingdom has prepared us as Christians to respond for such a time as this. This is how you can respond to this crisis because clearly the Bible is calling us to do something and encourages us to respond.

Esther 4:14
14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”


5 comments

Anonymous said...

I was fine, nodding my head in agreement throughout your post, until I got to Esther 4:14 and I.Was.Broken.

As someone who frequently chooses the latter in fight vs flight and can get overwhelmed by all the news, I have lately been suppressing the urge to cut bait. God used your post to convict me that He wants me to stay, respond and most of all, LOVE. Thank you.

Rachel Teodoro said...

YES!!! This. So much this. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Dr, David Jeremiah in his book, Is This The End, has the best scripture dealing with this topic; as well as what their church has done to reach out to "sojourners"/ refugees. It's chpt 2, or he can be pulled up on You Tube.

Catherine @ Ten Thousand Hour Mama said...

Your first point really struck me because it helped me think about WHY others may be responding to the refugee crisis by closing borders, kicking people out and turning their backs. Fear makes us do things that go against our values.

I'd add that we can involve our kids in talking about refugees. I chat with my daughters in very simple terms - e.g. "Some people have to leave their homes because it's not safe. It's important that we welcome them in our town" or whatever. Kids who don't grow up thinking of refugees as "other" are more likely to treat people in need with kindness and compassion.

Rachel Teodoro said...

Catherine, such great points on how to talk to kids about this crisis.

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