Who is on the front line of the refugee crisis?

Men, women and children serge toward the fence under the watchful eye of border police.  Babies nap in weary strollers caked with mud.  Lines of people move in a slow shuffle, all that remains of their worldly possessions slung over their shoulder in backpacks that used to carry their university study books.  Young professionals, now homeless, wait by the concertina wire.  This looks like the frontline of a crisis.  Refugees- thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them.

AP Photo
AP Photo

Further back, away from the hawkish eyes of the news camera and the primetime reporters, locals mingle among the sojourners.  They humbly engage the refugees.  Where are you from?  Would you like something to eat?   Can I pray for you?

This month I heard firsthand accounts of individuals and church families driving a few hours from home or walking only a couple blocks to reach the masses.  I heard stories of an American family in Vienna who, every day, felt called to invite a refugee family into their home.  They would feed them, provide a place to clean up and rest, preparing them for their journey the next day.

I spoke with a believer in Romania who lives near the Serbian border.   He, along with some other church members, stocked their van full of food, and crossed the border to feed and pray with the refugees.  Their engagement was joyfully and gratefully received.

Volunteers from a local church handout food and hygiene items in Vienna.
Volunteers from a local church handout food and hygiene items in Vienna.

These Christians didn’t need to fly across an ocean or establish a parachurch organization to immediately show the love of Christ.  They live on the front lines of crisis.  It’s outside the front door, and, in some cases, present in their own homes.  The Church is on the front lines of the refugee crisis and is spiritually equipped and mandated by Scripture to be involved.  This crisis is for the Church in Europe and wherever else these refugees are arriving.

The Church around the world needs to be praying for brothers and sisters here.  But, aside from prayer, unless the Spirit has moved you to be involved, local churches across the globe should do one more thing.  Look at your local community.  What crisis is your community facing that the local church is spiritually equipped and mandated by Scripture to address?  Racially-motivated violence?  Rampant drug abuse? Prolific, entrenched poverty?  May the Christian response in Europe encourage you to respond likewise to the crisis at your doorstep.

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For readers in North America who want to support refugees, I recommend reading “Ways to Welcome the Refugee,” which outlines various levels of support you can offer from financial giving to adopting a refugee family through a government-supported refugee resettlement agency.  Over the years I have volunteered with several refugee resettlement agencies.  You can read about some of those experiences and other related topics on previous posts.

The Global South at my door – working with a refugee family from Burma in San Diego

The luxury of safety – My Burmese family needed me to take them to the hospital to bring food to their 8-year-old son who had been hit by a car.  The donated car-seat they had for their two-year-old was too small for her (an infant car seat).  How were we going to get to the hospital without the appropriate car seats for the children and avoid California’s stiff penalties for those who do not use car seats correctly?  This post highlights one of the pressing needs refugees have when they arrive in the United States.

A mom’s take on Syria – written just over two years ago, even more relevant today

Happening Upon Solidarity – last year we stumbled upon a very large peaceful demonstration in Stuttgart, Germany.   Middle Easterners were protesting the lack of government initiative to stop the oppression of Christians in areas influenced by ISIS.

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