Welcome the Stranger
“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” Lev 19:34
|Kiddos in Southern Sudan|
Tomorrow is World Refugee Day. Groups and organizations around the world will gather to remember the plight of the refugee. Refugees are those who have fled from their home country as a result of violence, persecution, or natural disaster. The words listed above are everyday realities for so many refugees in our world.
I’ve met many refugees in my years of traveling, working, and volunteering. Their stories have touched me and inspired me. From Tibetan women weaving purses on looms to young Sudanese girls finding restoration through sports, I’ve been amazed. I’ve stood on hills in Southern Sudan with a former refugee and attempted to imagine the world through her eyes. I’ve listened to the story of a 16 year old girl as she detailed the day she witnessed her mother’s murder. I’ve driven by ‘tent cities’ filled with people who were displaced by disaster or poverty. Refugees often are a picture of tragedy and loss in our world.
|Kiddos in Clarkston|
But through my years of work with this population, a new picture has emerged for me. I’ve met incredible people who have found new life in the United States and in other countries. I have met business owners, college graduates, and healthy families. I feel privileged to have been able to ‘welcome the stranger’ into the United States through several different organizations. I remind myself that the Bible commands us to welcome the stranger into our land. Refugees come here searching for a fresh start, and I feel honored to have been able to help them meet their needs as they adjust to their new life. I’d like to add some new words to the picture of refugees.
I hope you take a moment tomorrow to think about the refugees in our country and around the world. Say a prayer for those in danger and the families starting fresh in new countries. And maybe take a moment to look up a great organization serving refugees like World Relief, or the International Rescue Committee. We can each do our part to welcome these future Americans into our home, in the spirit of our country’s tradition. It’s a rewarding and humbling experience.
Happy World Refugee Day!