A Refuge for the Weary

November 19, 2015 | Written by Thomas Thompson

Jordan. Photo: World Bank
Jordan. Photo: World Bank

We are in the midst of what some have called “the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.”

One out of every two Syrians has fled for their lives with literally seconds to grab what they could before they went on the run.

That’s half the country, gone.

Families walk for miles through the night to avoid being shot at by snipers or caught by soldiers who will kidnap young men to fight for the regime.

It’s unfathomable.

What if it were you?

Imagine that you fled your home, only to find yourselves strangers a strange land.
You don’t know the laws, the language, or the customs.
You don’t have a phone or a single friend.
You don’t see anyone with your color skin.
Where would you even begin to go for help?

As we began to look into how we at Pulpit Rock could respond to the Syrian crisis, we learned an amazing fact:
We don’t have to leave our city to work with refugees like the ones fleeing Syria – they are coming to us.

One of our own members, Sandra Zabukovic, volunteers with Lutheran Family Services.

In the next 12 months, Lutheran Family Services in Colorado Springs is slated to receive 150 refugees from places like the Congo, Burundi, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Cuba.

No Easy Answers

Now, I know the topic of immigration is a tricky and complicated one. I don’t have all the answers.

I like what Sarah Tinan, another member of our church family, posted online this week:

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know if you respond to emotion and stuff the logic away. I don’t know if you open our borders and bring anyone/everyone in despite danger and cost and sustainability. I don’t know if you split up families and bring women and children and the elderly in. I don’t know if you again offer up your husband’s life toward the effort to destroy evil men around the world so people can stay in their very own beloved countries without fear. I don’t know if you just keep giving and praying and hoping and speaking for peace when there are men whose Allah-given mission is to kill your family. I don’t care if you DO know and judge me for not knowing…But I do know Jesus and Jesus knows me and we are talking about it, everyday.

Sarah captures where I am:
I don’t know how to solve our nation’s immigration problems.
I don’t know how to run the right security or background checks.
I don’t know how to open our doors without tearing down our walls.
I don’t know that the question of whether our Governor should welcome Syrian refugees is as black and white as Facebook seems to make it sound. Like most issues, immigration is complicated and there are few easy answers and good hearted believers even in this room disagree on what steps we should take.

The Important Questions

But as a citizen of this city, and more importantly, as a citizen of the kingdom, I have to ask more than just how to protect me and my family. I have to ask how to offer refuge to the families already here, as well as the at least 150 more who will come to Colorado Springs in 2016.

We serve a Savior who said that the difference between the sheep that follow him and the goats that don’t boiled down not to politics, or statements of faith, but this one simple test:

For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Matthew 25:35

If we want to exercise our right as Americans to get involved in immigration reform, by all means, we should.

But let us also exercise our responsibility as Christians to offer refuge to the displaced who are at our doorstep.

We can’t do everything. But we can do something.

So What Are We Doing?

And that is why Pulpit Rock is partnering with Lutheran Family Services as part of this year’s Christmas Offering.

They offer refugees the chance to rebuild their lives by equipping them to achieve self-sufficiency within their first year here.
They foster integration into their new communities.
They have two condos for temporary housing where families can stay while they begin the process of finding jobs and homes, enrolling kids in schools, learning the language and surviving their first year here.

However, the condos are old and the appliances and furniture could use some refinishing. We are going to raise funds to fix them up. There might be opportunities for some of us with repair skills to help out as well. In fact, moving forward, we hope to build opportunities for our small groups providing refuge for these displaced refugees in our own city. We are also providing welcome kits with basic living necessities.

Find out more about how Lutheran Family Services helps refugees.

Here’s the Bottom Line

Pulpit Rock, we need to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves as we talk, post and respond to these issues. We need to think deeply about security and at the same time care for those who are running for their lives.

We will offer the love of Jesus and the shalom of our city to families in our city, no matter how they got here.


photo credit: Syrian Refugees Face an Uncertain Future via photopin (license)

 

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