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Most believers are aware of that the Bible says that we are citizens in Heaven (Phil 3:20) as well as foreigners and strangers on the earth (Hebrews 11:13). But did you know that it also says that we are refugees?
“we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.” – Hebr 6:18
The Greek word for “fled” is kataphygontes, which more explicitely means “having fled for refuge”. All Christians have fled from death, evil and sin and entered the safe refuge of the Lord.
This is also expressed earlier in the same letter: (more…)
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there’s been a lot of hostility towards refugees in the minority (so called “Western”) world lately. In Europe, country after country are closing their borders and argue that they don’t have capacity and resources to welcome refugees, even though the EU is the world’s richest political entity and development countries receive 86 % of the world’s refugees. In Australia the government is pushing back boats of refugees and put refugees in horrible detention camps, and in the United States there’s a guy called Trump who wants to ban Muslims from entering the country and build a wall against Mexico.
The two latter examples are extremely confusing since the white population there are obviously descendants of immigrants themselves… I read in Bob Ekblad’s book A New Christian Manifesto recently about some Scandinavian Americans who were protesting against native Americans’ claims of land, and the Scandinavians’ argument were that they had owned that land for such a long time.
The Bible says: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” (Lev 19:34). The Israelites had then been in Egypt for 400 years. Most American and Australian families have lived in their colonies for less than that, which means that they surely are immigrants from God’s perspective, and this Bible passage is naturally very relevant to them. They have no moral grounds for deporting immigrants when they are rich and themselves have benefited from migration. (more…)
Earlier this summer when I was preparing my lecture Jesus vs Xenohpobia, I went to my favourite Bible study site biblehub.com and searched the Scriptures for the word “refugee”. Two passages touched me in a special way, both being from prophet Isaiah’s book.
Isaiah 16:3-4 says: “Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer.” This is in the middle of a prophecy against Moab, that warns the kingdom for an upcoming disaster. In the previous chapter, God says: “My heart cries out over Moab; her fugitives flee as far as Zoar, as far as Eglath Shelishiyah. They go up the hill to Luhith, weeping as they go; on the road to Horonaim they lament their destruction.” (Is 15:5).
It is thus clear that even though this catastrophe is described as being the result of God’s judgment due to the idolatry of the Moabite people, He still cares for them and wants people to give them shelter from the ones who destroy them. Even people who do not worship the Lord still deserves love, care and humanitarian aid. (more…)
The Mediterranean genocide is nothing new , over 25,000 people have drowned when they have tried to cross the sea to reach Europe during the last 20 years. European politicians have known about this problem for centuries, yet it is still ongoing. The reason for this is that they simply want it to be like this: they are stuck between being insanely evil or sacrificially merciful, and then they chose a deadly middle-way instead. That’s why Syrian children die in Mare Nostrum: it’s because of politics.
First of all, why do refugees die in the Mediterranean? It’s because they travel with extremely fragile boats provided by smugglers. These crooks usually demand lots of money – often around 1,000 euros and sometimes even as much as 10,000 euros. So why don’t the refugees fly with airplanes? Well, because they aren’t allowed to. As professor Hans Rosling explains in the video above, an EU directive has made sure that airlines must pay the costs of all immigrants who aren’t refugees and therefore are to be deported. Since no airline wants to take the risk of paying these costs, they simply deny all people from developing countries that don’t have a visa, entrance to their planes. And visas aren’t granted to refugees.
This is why all refugees must enter the EU illegally, on dangerous boat rides across the Mediterranean or inside trucks from Turkey to Greece. It’s illegal because there is no single way for them to enter legally. Still, since refugees must be granted asylum according to UN conventions that European countries have signed as well as EU:s own decisions, many who do enter a EU country will be granted asylum, and then suddenly become a legal immigrant. Pretty messed up system, isn’t it?
As the election to the European Parliament gets closer, I want to highlight some of the biggest European sins that unfortunately are not very present in the political debates.
Let us, as usual, look at the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia to get a definition of today’s deadly sin: “Pride is the excessive love of one’s own excellence… By it the creature refuses to stay within his essential orbit; he turns his back upon God, not through weakness or ignorance, but solely because in his self-exaltation he is minded not to submit. His attitude has something Satanic in it.”
I would say that Europe is overflowing with pride. It is because of their pride that European politicians promote economic inequality with Europe at the top, and because of pride they oppress the poor through neo-colonialism, destroy the planet and refuse to give enough aid so that poor people die abroad. And if that wasn’t enough, pride creates xenophobia, racism and evil migration policies.
It’s not any big news that xenophobia and racism is spreading across Europe. Xenophobic parties want to stop immigration of people from the so called third world, they are hostile towards Muslims and want to limit freedom of religion, and they emphasize their own culture and nation (which always is very pathetic in Europe since basically all countries here have changed culturally, geographically and politically over and over again since the fall of the Roman empire).
I know, I’ve written about the crisis in Syria before, it shouldn’t be new to anyone that the humanitarian situation there is catastrophical. But things have become even worse. Today, leaders of four giat UN agencies – UNICEF, WFP, OCHA and UNHCR – published the video above were they demand more support for the humanitarian relief in Syrian and neighbouring countries. There isn’t enough money. People die because of lack of money. The political leaders of donor countries are to blame for this of course, but it won’t hurt if we dig in our pocket books ourselves to save lives.
As of the beginning March 2013, Jordan has received over 320,000 Syrian refugees, with the numbers expected to double or triple over the coming months. There are wide spread shortages of food, water, medical, hygiene and education resources. Jordan is under pressure and struggling to keep up with the demand of the ever increasing basic needs of those seeking refuge. (more…)
After two years of extremely violent conflict, the humanitarian situation in Syria is now catastrophic and the aid provided falls drastically short of what is needed. The diplomatic paralysis preventing a political resolution of the conflict can by no means excuse the failure of humanitarian response. MSF calls on the parties involved in the conflict to negotiate an agreement on humanitarian aid, to facilitate its supply around the country via neighbouring countries or across front lines. Meanwhile, states, United Nations and donors must acknowledge the country’s fragmentation and urgently give their support to NGOs to help them provide assistance where they can.
The Syrian population is faced with a conflict of extreme violence and a humanitarian situation of catastrophic proportions: the previously well functioning health system has collapsed; food shortages are commonplace, and water and electricity supply is disrupted. “Medical aid is being targeted, hospitals destroyed and medical personnel captured,” explains Dr. Marie-Pierre Allié, President of MSF France. According to the United Nations, 2.5 million Syrians have been displaced in the country, while 57% of hospitals have been damaged and 36% are unable to function according to official data. These statistics do not include the private clinics or makeshift hospitals that have been destroyed or damaged.
While Mozambique, DR Congo and South Sudan also are facing enormous humanitarian crises, Mali is perhaps the African country which has most problems right now. Islamists supported by al Qaida have taken control of the northern parts of the country to practice extreme sharia laws, and to stop northern Mali from becoming a terrorist state, France is cooperating with the Mali government in a military offensive. In the midst of violent conflict are millions of civilians that already were poor, hungry and sick before. The result is disastrous. UNHCR reports:
Since the start of the conflict in northern Mali a year ago, more than 150,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso, while nearly 230,000 have sought safety in other areas inside Mali. […] Most are living in poor neighbourhoods with little or no access to housing or vital services such as clean water, education and health.
People fleeing the current fighting between French-backed government forces and rebels in the north of Mali tell alarming accounts of atrocities. A former resident of Gao, who left the northern town after recent air strikes, told UNHCR that food and fuel were in short supply.
“The situation in Gao is difficult. The rebels took all the medicines from Gao hospital. I saw dead bodies everywhere, in the yard of the hospital,” said Agesha, who fled the town last Sunday.
I strongly urge you to support Christian Aid’s West Africa Food Crisis Appeal, which will bring food and humanitarian relief to the people in Mali and surrounding areas. And I also urge you to pray for this country. There are few Christians in this country, and because of the rise of extreme Islamism, they are severely persecuted. Yet, the main thing Mali needs to get rid of war, poverty, terrorism and hunger, is a mighty Holy Spirit revival. They need a miracle, and they need it now.