Monday, November 23, 2015

Refugees Among Us

Okay, let’s talk about refugees.

A refugee is one who is seeking refuge. Their home is not safe anymore, and in desperation, they are running for their lives. Most have been forced out, they are powerless, all control over their lives resides in the hands of others.

There are literally millions of them around the world.

From a security perspective, there is an ongoing public debate about whether or not to accept them into any given country. It is a question of resources, of public safety, of basic sanitation. These are legitimate questions.

From a Christian perspective, there is really no debate. There ought to be no question. Followers of Jesus will say “Yes” to every refugee, everywhere, at any time. The only questions would be the logistical ones pertaining to how, not the philosophical ones pertaining to if.

But with that said, how might an individual follower of Jesus say “Yes” to a refugee in the world? Tweet about it? Share a pithy meme on the Facebook? Write a nice articulate “statement” and put it on a website somewhere?

I’ll tell you how. I guarantee you there are dozens of refugees in YOUR town right now. If not hundreds. People who are seeking refuge. Forced out of a home that is no longer safe, if it ever was. All control over their lives taken violently away. They are desperate, powerless, scared.

They are children in the foster care system, and they need you. No, their pictures are not spread all over your newsfeed. They do not make headlines. But are they not refugees, as much as the ones fleeing the violence in Syria?

Foster kids only become foster kids if they’ve been hurt - abused or neglected. The home that they know and love is not safe for them. They are removed by strangers, taken to a place they’ve never seen before, every decision made by people they don’t know, people that they do not trust. They have no home, no foundation, all is chaos.

Do you really want to help a refugee? Do you actually want to do something that will make a real and noticeable dent in the world’s suffering? Do you really? In “Fiddler on the Roof,” a revolutionary young man named Perchik asks, “Why do you curse them? What good will your cursing do? You curse and chatter but you do nothing. You’ll all chatter your way into the grave.”

The point is - DO something. Enough chatter. There is no try. Do.

Now I confess, honestly and openly, that foster care is our particular calling. My family has opened our home to sixteen refugees over the years, and we’ve given one of those sixteen a forever home. I’m passionate about foster care, and very, very biased on this issue. I’ll own that.

And furthermore, of course the refugees from the middle east should be welcomed, sheltered, fed, given refuge. The same goes for any refugee anywhere in the world. It clearly is not an either / or proposition. I have very little patience for the “no refugees until all American homeless people are cared for” position. That’s a false dichotomy, hardly worth refuting.

My point is just this. If you actually want to help a refugee, you can. Become a licensed foster parent. Open up your home to a child who needs refuge. Do it now. Use the anger you feel about “this refugee situation” as motivation to do something courageous and noble and (dare I say it) … Christlike.

Do you want to talk about refugees? Do you really? Do you want to help one? Do you want to meet one? Because there’s a list. In every town in every county in every state in this great nation - hundreds of kids. They are no less refugees than the thousands of people whose images are currently scrolling on the news. 

And they're not going anywhere.


(Foster families, thank you for everything you do. Respite providers, thank you. Case workers, therapists, lawyers, judges, and all the rest who devote your lives to foster kids, thank you. Agencies whose mission is helping foster kids, people who give support to those agencies, thank you. It doesn’t take a village; it takes a world. You are the world for some of the most vulnerable refugees among us. God bless you all.)

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