God’s heart of compassion for the orphan, the widow and the stranger among us is constantly reiterated throughout the Bible.
So is His rage and condemnation of those who refuse them justice or even worse actively oppress these vulnerable communities. The Bible constantly grounds both Israel and the church’s spirituality with this theme.
As World Horizons, we yearn to be a community of people who actively respond to this heart of God, in all of the countries and cultural contexts that we come from and work in. God’s cry for social justice resonates deeply within our community. We aim to not just preach the good news but to also roll our sleeves up and engage in acts of compassion that will contribute to making this world a better and fairer place for all.
The UNHCR estimates that “84 million individuals have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations” and that “Half of the world’s refugees are children”. Furthermore, it states that “85% of refugees are being hosted in developing countries” and that “We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record” ever.
All of us are being impacted by this global crisis and thankfully, there is something all of us can do to respond as God would like us to. Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats tells us clearly that when we feed our brothers and sisters if hungry (who are not our family but rather the stranger, the other, our fellow humans), or offer them water if thirsty, or clothes them when naked, or welcome them into our homes if homeless, or care for them when sick or visit them in prison, that these are spiritual offerings that please him.
All of us can pray but we can also be practical answers to the individual strangers that God brings across our paths, many of whom will be part of that refugee population in today’s world.
Some in World Horizons are now actively engaging in the more organised humanitarian efforts. We are increasingly working to facilitate culturally sensitive and locally sustainable answers to the numerous needs that refugees may have in the many different countries and cultures we work in. Those of us involved in this work feel the deep joy and enormous privilege of getting to know, as well as working out how best to serve these communities. We serve in pop up soup kitchens, in language schools, through the healing and therapeutic benefits of the creative arts, adventure therapy and livelihood projects.
The challenges are immense and our efforts can seem like a drop in the ocean when we think of addressing the global needs of refugees, but we can choose, like Mother Theresa, to take courage from the fact that an ocean is made of many drops. The church has historically often been at the forefront of social change in the fight for social justice and human charity. Our World Horizons community is committed to promoting and facilitating this deeply spiritual and practical service of embracing the refugee in our midst.