June 20 is World Refugee Day

June 20 is World Refugee Day

“When you have more, then you need build a bigger table not a higher fence."

June 09, 2016 | Bern, Switzerland. | Jonathan Duffy, ADRA Int., CD-EUDNews.

Imagine if you woke up to the news one passenger jet had crashed killing all on board. Imagine if it was 100, then another 100 the next day, and the next

That is the equivalent of how many children die each day of preventable diseases why do we never hear about it

Why is it that our compassion for others seems to be directly correlated to whether people are close to us socially, emotionally, culturally, ethnically, economically and geographically?

How might God think about the issue? Does He look at the suffering of a child in Cambodia or Malawi with a certain sense of emotional distance? Does God have different levels of compassion for children based on their geographical location, their nationality, their race or their parents’ income? Does He forget about their pain because He is preoccupied with other things? Does He turn the offending page to read the sports section- or is His heart broken because each child is precious to Him?

God surely grieves and weeps because every one of these children is His child - not somebody else's.

900 million people live in a permanent state of hunger and that number is on the increase with the major hike in food prices.

20 million people live as refugees and internally displaced persons

Over 2 billion people exist on less than $2 per day with over half of them on less than $1 per day

Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read or sign their own name.

Less than 1% of what the world spends each year on weapons is needed to put every child in school and yet it never happens.

Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water and 2.6 billion lack access to basic sanitation.

More people in the world have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet or safe sanitation.

Slavery abolished ?

In 2007 we celebrated the 200th anniversary of Wilberforce's Act in British Parliament to abolish slavery. So slavery ended 209 years ago?

Today some 27 million people live in slavery - mostly women many of them victims of the sex trade.

Some 1.8 million children die each year as a result of diarrhea.

1 in 2 children in the world live in poverty

2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized.

15 million children are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.

A child dies every 3 seconds.

Are you moved by these statistics? Does it make you aware of what a broken world we live in? Does it make you want to do something that makes a difference in the world?

These statistics are overwhelming and impersonal. If I was to show you a picture of a child in distress and tell you a very motive story of the hardships they face would it move you.

On the streets of Moldova, we found an orphaned 5 year old girl living in a cardboard box, nearly naked, hungry, dirty afraid looking after her 3 year old brother.

In Syria, a successful business man forced to flee with his family he packed everything he could fit in one of his 3 cars and escaped to the border where he was forced to leave everything behind. He and his family have now lived in a refugee camp for 6 months in the hope of getting refugee status to take his family to Australia.

Why is it that the story of a refugee who has lost everything doesn't have the same affect upon us as the story of a child.

In 2015 over 1 million refugees crossed into Europe sparking a crisis in how to deal with these unprecedented numbers.

ISIS, who had destroyed these people's homes robbed from and destroyed their businesses, killed many of their relatives have inserted themselves into this humanitarian mess of people linking them with acts of terrorism like the Paris bombings.

Countries closing borders

Now we see countries closing their borders to them. Bloomberg surveyed the American public. 53% said they do not want any Syrian refugees in the United States. A further 28% said they only wanted to let Christian refugees in, so in some way 81% said they did not want to give refuge to Syrian refugees.

What of the concept promoted by Samantha Fienburg of project happiness when she stated, “When you have more, then you need build a bigger table not a higher fence."

Where do we sit with this issue as Christians? Is our compassion limited to matters that we are passionate about or move us in some emotive way? Is our compassion limited by our social boundaries, our own comfort zone or our own safety?

Former member of the European Parliament Tony Benn stated, "The way a government treats refugees is very instructive because it shows how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it".

What statement do we make as individuals, as a church, in how we engage in this refugee crisis?

In Matthew 25 we read of where Christ challenges us - "I was hungry, naked, thirsty, sick and where were you?"

Well I am comfortable with providing those things, you can count on me Lord. But then we read on - a stranger, a refugee well if it is safe for my family and they don't take any jobs away from me. A prisoner well, what was thier crime?

When I look at the life of Christ I often wonder how many people He healed? We are told everywhere He went people surrounded Him. Then I think where they were when He was on trial? Where were they when the crowd cried crucify Him? Were they conveniently absent? Did they wring their hands in frustration of their inability to speak out and make a difference? Did they weep silently ridden with guilt by their cowardice?

Are we as a church willing to give voice to the social outcast? Are we willing to champion issues of justice even if they are unpopular? Is our compassion driven by our social norms or our own safety?


We are told to view the stranger within our gates as if he were Christ. Are we going to remain silent while people reject Him, abuse Him and send Him send Him away? Do we act just as the mob did when they cried crucify Him?

In Micah 6:8 we read: "He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

"Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering and injustice when He could do something about it." 

"Why don't you ask Him?"

"Because I'm afraid He would ask me the same question" (Anonymous)

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