– Salathiel Nalli
I am writing these few lines in the comfort of my home, but around 80 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes as on today. Among them, there are 26 million refugees (forced to flee their country because of persecution, war or violence) (Source: https://www.unhcr.org/en-in/figures-at-a-glance.html)
The United Nations declared June 20 as ‘World Refugee Day’ to build empathy and understanding for the plight of refugees, and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.
During this period of COVID-19 Pandemic, many people are going through a difficult phase of their life. Refugees, who are already struggling with many issues, are suffering much more. Lack of adequate health facilities, crowded habitations and insufficient access to food and water supply increase their struggle to survive.
There are several passages in the Bible which exhorts us to take care of refugees. We are expected to Love the refugees as ourselves (Leviticus 19:33-34) and provide food for them (Leviticus 19:9-10) because God loves them (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).
As Christians, the first thing we need to do is to equip ourselves with information regarding refugees and start praying for them. Much of the information can be accessed from UNHCR. Once we are aware, we need to inform others, both in our respective churches and in our communities. One of the ways of sensitizing our churches is by observing World Refugee Sunday.
It’s also important to keep our eyes open to refugees, and look for them in our communities. As we identify them, we should also be able to help them in various ways, including in their daily living, local language, cultural adjustment and psychosocial wellbeing.
Finally, as we care for the refugees, God acknowledges our work as in Matthew 25:35-36: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”