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August 1, 2021 | Javan Shashaty
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“True justice must be given to foreigners living among you . . .”—Deuteronomy 24:17 (NLT)
In recent months, the world has become acutely conscious of a crisis that has long existed yet has now reached an undeniable “tipping point.” That crisis, of course, is the plight of the refugee.
With the socio-political instability brought about by murderous regimes in areas such as the Middle East and Northern Africa, approximately 65 million men, women, and children have been forced to flee their homelands in the past handful of years. That’s nearly 1 out of every 100 people on the planet. (See attribution website below.) It has been estimated by the United Nation’s Refugee Agency that 24 people are displaced every minute . . . a trend that only projects to escalate. (See attribution website below.)
Clearly, this is an issue that cannot be ignored. It must not be faced in ignorance, either. Unfortunately, an unfiltered and steady stream of opinions, talking points, and editorials have produced exactly that. With so many contradictory views and voices cancelling each other out, many have been left in a dizzying state of bewilderment.
This article’s purpose is to clear the confusion by inviting and allowing God’s Word to reveal His heart for the dispossessed. For at the end of the day, His take is the only one that ultimately matters.
Unlike the opinion polls and policies of man, the Lord’s heart isn’t subject to change. It is firmly fixed and set for all generations. He doesn’t waver with the swirling winds of our contemporary climate. When He says, “I don’t change” (Malachi 3:6) He means it.
Which is why God’s Word is such an invaluable resource to us; it has the ability to reveal His attitude towards something in “real time.” Because His heart on a matter several centuries ago (as recorded in Scripture) remains the same today. Including the refugee, and here’s what we see . . .
“True justice must be given to foreigners living among you and to orphans . . . Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from your slavery. That is why I have given you this command.”—Deuteronomy 24:17-18 (NLT)
As the Lord prepared the children of Israel to inherit the Promised Land and establish them as a mighty nation, He reminded them of their beginnings in Egypt. By way of reminder, a famine had swallowed up the civilized world and Egypt was its only oasis. Under the wise leadership of Joseph, enough grain had been stored to feed those who fled to Egypt for survival. It was a global refugee crisis in the truest sense!
Among them were Jacob and his descendants, who would form the foundation of the nation of Israel. They were a dispossessed people without a homeland; strangers in a strange land. These were the origins that God never wanted His people to forget. Why? Because it would generate a sense of empathy for them going forward when people would flee to their borders for refuge.
This wasn’t an incidental afterthought, either. It was so important to God for this attitude to define His people that He deliberately built it into their history. Israel’s path to power could have been much different, but the Lord sovereignly set them up to be a caring and compassionate.
God wanted His people to have a hospitable heart towards the displaced in that day and His heart hasn’t changed. Only now, it’s not the nation of Israel but His Church that He is working through. Those who are “in Christ” constitute His tangible touch here on earth, and we’ve been called to show the same compassion.
We see this most powerfully in a story that Jesus shared about a Good Samaritan who reached out to help someone who was beaten and abandoned. He was destitute in every sense of the word, but the Samaritan showed him mercy by rescuing him and caring for the needs that he was unable to meet himself (Luke 10:30-37).
This is the kind of compassion that is to define Christ’s followers. Of all people on the planet, we are the ones who should be known for rising up and reaching out with our God-given resources to heal, house, cleanse, feed, protect, or prepare those in need of refuge.
Too often, everyone’s energy is expended arguing over the refugee’s rights instead of simply taking care of their needs. The Church’s role as Christ’s Body isn’t to focus on how someone may have come to us or how long they’re with us. Our calling is to extend the love and mercy of Jesus to them while the need and opportunity exists; which is why we’re providing a listing below on ways for you to be involved.
Suffice it to say, we live in a very complicated and potentially confusing world. But there’s a refreshing simplicity in knowing how God feels about something and how we should accordingly respond. He has a heart for the refugee. Moreover, He wants us to share and exercise His heart towards them in their time of need. In so doing, we’ll find ourselves in the center of His will and at the forefront of His favor.
“Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”—Hebrews 13:1-2 (NLT)
1. Pew Research Center: Key Facts About the World’s Refugees
2. The UN Refugee Agency: Uprooted refugees plant trees to rebuild Uganda’s forests
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.