Advent Day 21: Why are We Surprised?
International Association for Refugees (IAFR) works with 160 Churches that live and minister in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.
Be silent for a moment and consider: What does a typical “Church” look like, in your experience? How might Church be different in a refugee camp? How might it be the same?
It is both wonderful and humbling to find God in unexpected places. It is wonderful because God is working all over the world, and no walls, governments, social situations, economic conditions or wars can keep God out.
It is humbling because of course God is there, and why would we think it was unexpected in the first place? That has a lot more to do with our expectations and cultural assumptions than it does with the power of the Gospel.
Many Christian groups have the idea that they should plant Churches, and of course this can be a very good thing to do. But check first. Are there already Churches ministering and serving where you want to plant? Do they need you, or even want you to come in and start something new? Or is it better to partner and support the ministry that is already happening?
The Nativity story includes many “unlikely” characters, not the least of which are the shepherds in Luke 2 and the Magi in Matthew 2. One group are local agrarian workers, the other are foreign intellectuals. They were both “unlikely” groups (in the world’s view) to be visited by a host of angels, or to be guided by a star, and to show up at the birth of the Messiah.
Why would God choose them of all people as witnesses? Well, why should it surprise us that he does? Both groups attend the mother and baby at different times, and afterwards the shepherds announce the good news of the birth to anyone who would listen. They are the first evangelists. And the Magi presumably share what they have seen when they return home as well.
Refugees come from every background, from hard-working farmers to well-educated intellectuals, and everything in between. Many of them are Jesus-followers who carry a missionary heart with them wherever they go. When IAFR went to Kakuma they wisely partnered with the Churches already worshiping, serving and living within the camp. The Churches they are working with represent only a portion of those that are ministering there. What’s more, these Churches are now planting new ministries outside of the camp, because the Gospel cannot be stopped. God is on the move, and it should not surprise us that he is working in and through the Kakuma Refugee camp.
Read: Luke 2:8-20
Pray: Ask God to uncover your false expectations and assumptions about what he can or cannot do in the world, and to replace them with awe and wonder at his plan, his love, and his power. Thank God for the Churches being run by refugees all around the world, and the way the Gospel is advancing in the midst of the crisis of mass human displacement.
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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.