Advent Day 19: From Where?
“68% of the world’s refugees come from just 5 countries: Syria (6.6m), Venezuela (3.7m), Afghanistan (2.7m), South Sudan (2.2m), and Myanmar (1.1m).” *Source
Be silent and consider: What circumstances would make you flee from your home, your city, your country?
There is a lot of fear around the refugee situation. Some of the fear is manufactured by authorities or media outlets, because it is useful to keep people afraid, and in particular afraid of the Other. People are more easily manipulated when they are afraid, and more susceptible to marketing. (This fear can be exacerbated by the tiny percentage of newcomers who commit crimes in their host countries.)
There is also fear because we are generally cautious about that which we don’t know. New cultures and customs, languages, religions, etc…do not always mix seamlessly with the culture and norms with which we are familiar, and this can make us uncomfortable.
When the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with, they thought they were bringing good news, but their presence and their purpose evoked wide-spread fear: “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” Who were these strange foreigners? Why had they traveled so far to get here? Where were they going and what were they planning? Why were they talking about a new-born king of the Jews?
Herod, his advisers, and apparently all Jerusalem with him did not see their arrival as good news, but bad news. Dangerous news. The kind of news that results in secret meetings and vicious schemes. The kind of news that authorities respond to with violence, threats and fears. Herod feared the Other and the change that they represented.
The five countries cited above as the source of 68% of the world’s refugees are ones that, sadly, many of us in the West have been taught to fear. They have been characterised as “bad news” to us, and it is nearly impossible to shake that conviction from some people’s minds.
But what if, in our trembling, we are in danger of missing out on God’s good news? What if we have been duped by those who would profit from our fear? What if we learned to see people from these countries not as a threat to our safety, but as beloved children of God who themselves are fleeing from a genuine threat to their safety?
Read: Matthew 2:1-18
Pray: Get out your map once more and begin to pray for Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, South Sudan and Myanmar.
Pray for God’s peace, justice and order in the situations that are causing so many people to flee. Pray for the people who are fleeing, that they would find refuge and welcome and long-term safety. And pray for your heart, and the hearts of people in your Church, your city, your country, that you would not be governed by fear but by wisdom and love. Finally, ask yourself if there are ethnic groups in your city that you have been conditioned to fear, and see if there are ways to connect with local community associations to help you meet people and overcome your fears.
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Our vision is to help people survive and recover from forced displacement. We do this together with the church, both globally, and locally in Canada.