These are the countries that are producing the most displaced people (Refugees, IDP, and Asylum Seekers):
1. Syria (13.5 million) 2. Colombia (8.2 million) 3. DR Congo (8.1 million) 4. Afghanistan (5.5 million) 5. Venezuela (4.5 million) 6. South Sudan (4.3 million) 7. Yemen (3.8 million) 8. Somalia (3.6 million) 9. Ethiopia (3.2 million) 10. Sudan (2.7 million)
*Note that there are also 5.4m Palestinian refugees in the Middle East for which the UN reports separately. *Source
Be silent for a moment and consider: How do you define family?
Here is another list of countries that we in the West have been taught almost nothing about, except that we should fear them. The words that come to mind for many when they encounter this list are: chaos, poverty, terrorism, and enemy. Whole cultures, people groups, families and individuals are reduced to the sum of our ignorant fears. We define them as first and foremost separate from us, not a part of us.
Once again, we should remember that people do not leave their homes and everything they know on a whim. The people who are fleeing their homes are doing so because there is a genuine and credible threat to their safety and their family’s safety, and they are looking for a place to be where they can be safe.
But even more, we must remember that these are our brothers and sisters. Their past, present and future is inextricably bound up with ours.
Luke reminds us of this in the second genealogy we come across in the Gospels. Where Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus begins with Abraham, Luke is a little more ambitious and takes us all the way back to Adam, and in fact to God. Jesus is shown here to be the Saviour of all humankind, and we are confronted with the fact that we all share a common heritage. Jesus incarnated, lived, taught, was persecuted, died, and was resurrected for all of humanity, not just certain parts of it.
It makes no sense, therefore, to believe that the countries on the above list are not part of us, and that we are not part of them. They are our brothers and sisters. All of us are caught up in the same family line with Jesus. Do we dare come to God with the ancient question: “Am I my brother’s/sister’s keeper?”
Read: Luke 3:23-38
Pray: Pray for your family. Start with your immediate family, then start moving outwards to your extended family and your Church family. Then start going further and further out. Ask God to help you see those who are fleeing violence and terror in the above countries as brothers and sisters as well. Ask God what it means, on a global scale, to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper.
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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.