At first glance, it would seem that western Christians, especially those in the U.S., have nothing in common with refugees that come into our country or are still in refugee camps whether the camps are in Thailand, Malaysia, Iraq etc. After all, we live the most affluent lifestyle of any country in history.
If we stop and think about it though, we will realize that we share a common theme- suffering. Western Christians do not suffer the same as our refugee friends. We do not flee from governments or hate filled groups trying to kill us. However, the person we seek to follow, our Lord Jesus, suffered for us. His suffering began shortly after his birth when his earthly step father Joseph was warned to take the child and Mary and flee to Egypt because Herod’s troops were coming to kill Jesus. His suffering on our behalf culminated in his death on the cross.
Suffering is part of the Christian heritage in this world. It has been since the birth of the church when Christians fled persecution at the hands of people like Saul of Tarsus. Christians hid in the catacombs in Rome to escape persecution. Christians are still persecuted in this day and age in many places in the world.
It is hard for Western Christians to understand suffering as our brothers and sisters in many places in the world do, but it is part of our heritage. I often wonder what Jesus thinks of Western Christians attitudes and actions toward refugees. There is a theme in the bible about sharing in suffering. The verses are related to sharing in the suffering of Christ or the apostles, yet there is connection. Some joined Paul in his suffering through giving and prayers.
It is my conviction that we can join in the suffering of Christ by reaching out to those who have suffered. In many communities in America, refugees have been relocated from various parts of the globe. We can reach out to them in friendship to help them with their new lives. For refugees in camps around the world, there are ministries reaching out to help them with basic needs. We can support those efforts. The least we can do is to pray for refugees. Imagine the impact if we skipped a few visits to a coffee shop each month to support an effort to assist refugees.
But first of all, let’s try to imagine what our Lord Jesus thinks about refugees since after all, he was a refugee at the beginning of his earthly life.