We currently live within the largest global crisis in human history.
In recent years, more than twenty million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes in an attempt to escape ethnic and religious persecution. More than half (eleven million) of those displaced are children.* Yet most of us are only vaguely aware of the atrocities facing refugees. In order to best figure out how we can help, we must know the answers to two questions:
1. What is a refugee?
A refugee is someone who has fled one's home country and cannot return because of well-founded fear of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. This is a categorically different group from immigrants or economic migrants who leave their country as fleeing poverty, but not necessarily persecution.
None of us within Northridge Kids claim to know why God has allowed this persecution to take place, but we believe He has a sovereign purpose, even in the midst of horrendous suffering, and as a result, we want to join God in what He is doing in this unique time in history.
2. How should we respond?
Compassion, simply defined is our feelings of sorrow for those caught in hurting. According to Jesus, a simple standard for compassion is exemplified by the way we treat ourselves. Jesus said:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no greater commandment than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
We should care for people in a way that exceeds the care we provide for ourselves! This means, compassion is only an initial feeling and our response should not end there. Compassion should lead us to action, particularly an attempt to alleviate the suffering refugees are experiencing.
According to our biblical faith, we are compelled to respond to the plight of refugees with hospitality. We are to welcome and to treat kindly those who are new to our land. In Leviticus, the Law commands Israel to welcome foreigners in this way:
"When a foreigner resides among your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself... " (Leviticus 19:33-34)
Our love for Christ is best demonstrated when we love others and treat them with kindness, especially those who are most different from us. We are called to love our neighbors, even if it costs us something. The ways that we can best show love includes praying and meeting needs.
While there are many refugees who have relocated to our own Greater Rochester area, and there are practical ways to meet their needs, the majority of the world's refugees live in the Middle East. So, how can we help them.
"...love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. (Romans 12:20)
Throughout the year, Northridge Kids participates in several giving projects. The goal of our giving projects is to make God's love known through kids helping kids. We focus on projects both locally (Pack-a-Pack & Tons of Love Food Drive) and globally (Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes & Advent Conspiracy).
For the next month in HighPoint, we're going to partner with our friends World Relief by praying for refugee children and by raising $225 to support one child for the year in a Child Friendly Space located in the Middle East.
This weekend in HighPoint your kids will come home with a brochure about Safe Spaces, as well as a wallet they can use to save money to bring back on Sundays between May 28 and June 11. Use these tools as discussion pieces to help your kids understand how they can demonstrate compassion, love and faith by helping to meet the practical needs of children who have been displaced from their homes.
In the meantime, if you'd like to know more about the refugee crisis please take a look at any or all of these recommended resources: