See the mother on the journey, tiny baby in her arms,
Running from the soldiers who’ve come to rape and kill
She’s tired from the running, desperate, hungry, full of fear—
How can she know God loves her, and that He walks beside her there?
He is there beside her in the dark and in the cold.
He knows what she is feeling, in the Bible it is told
That He was once a refugee. His parents ran to save His life
From the soldiers sent to kill him in Herod’s infanticide.
The way that God has chosen to loose the bands of wickedness
To give bread to the hungry and to help free the oppressed
Calls us to walk beside her in our prayers and in our hearts:
As the body of Christ, the servant king, it makes her burden ours.
But words and prayers are not enough, no matter how well spoken
God’s love requires our presence so He can walk beside His children.
Even though we’re broken, we are His feet and hands.
We stand in need of grace to obey His commands.
Though she sits in darkness, He came to be the light.
Though she now is hungry, He is the bread of life.
Though we turn aside sometimes or don’t know what to do,
We are all called in some way to help her make it through.
He chose to entrust us with His reputation
And to make us His body throughout every nation
As a king become baby, He risked everything
Calling us to embody the love that He brings….
“I was hungry and you gave me bread
Thirsty and you gave me drink
A stranger and you took me in
In prison and you came to me….”
Lord, when did this happen?
His answer is quite clear
“When you did it for the least of these
It was for me, for I am there….”
Teresa Norman March 2001
Money doesn’t make you a better person-it just gives you better choices. In some cultures, having no money and no rights makes you a target for traffickers. I first heard of the organization “Not For Sale” shortly after I had met some of my young refugee friends. It made their presentation pretty non-theoretical. I could picture some of the young people I care about and the choices they may have faced if their parents had not chosen to become refugees and take the risk of resettlement to America.
Not for sale…..
Humans as commodities, stocks to exchange,
inconveniences, expendables to be thrown away.
Their lives for sale…choices determined by $.
No! Their lives are a gift. Their lives have value!
Children of God, created with purpose-
whether they know it or not!
They have captured us, adopted us, let us love them.
Priceless treasures beyond measure…
These sharers of laughter, of humbling moments…
Yahtzee played, meals shared, loving acceptance offered and received.
We talk of woman things and what it means
Of relationships and guys who are good
And those who are not.
Transitions negotiated like minefields….
New experiences played out each day….
We talk of Christmas trees and manger scenes–
Of Jesus, a refugee whose parents fled to safety to keep him safe.
They watched our daughter with her baby
And reflected on a mother who loves instead of leaves…
They have little “stuff”- but their father loves them.
With courage he brought them here in spite of the challenges.
They live in a “big” house (smaller than most living rooms),
grateful their father cooks for them….
Grateful for food. For friends…. for choices.
If different choices had been made,
They could be some of those who are for sale in another land…..
How do you determine the value of a human?
Of their love?
It is priceless.
It should not be for sale.
This article yesterday in the Seattle times tells about the struggle refugees are having making ends meet in the recession economy and how the budget cuts are impacting them here in Washington State. I took some time to read the comments that followed the article, and was made aware of how great some of the hostility is that people hold towards not just illegal immigrants, but also towards those our government has invited to be here. While I understand their financial frustration, and fear that their piece of an ever-shrinking pie will somehow disappear, I am also aware that my friends who are refugees have faced things beyond my comprehension. The link here is to an article from the Bangkok Post, written by a friend of a friend, highlighting the situation these folks needed a refuge from.
“Those” people are different than us….”, my usually reasonable co-worker said this morning. She was trying to explain to me why immigration and immigrants and all those “other” people make her mad coming into “our” country. (Not sure which country her ancestors immigrated from-mine were German, Norwegian and Swedish). It was hard not to get mad. But we were at work, so there wasn’t enough time for a full-blown rebuttal of “why so many of my friends and the people I respect are refugees or immigrants” and why I believe our country is enriched by what they bring or that those of us who are not Native American need to walk a bit softly and with humility on this one. She knows how much we love our “adopted” Burmese granddaughters so, she just wanted to tell me that the Somali refugees next to her house were blocking the driveway with their car and she thought they should be deported. Oh, and, that we let too many of those “other” people into this country!
I’m sorry her neighbors had bad manners, or maybe didn’t have her understanding of property rights. But stereotyping everyone from every region (except of course, white North Americans who forgot that they too immigrated) is a really bad idea!
Refugees go through a stringent screening process to get here. Article 1 of the Geneva Convention as amended by the 1967 Protocol provides the definition of a refugee:
- “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it..”
Taking a deep breath, saying a pray for those, like my friend, who do not understand the value of diversity, the necessity of compassion, or the richness and beauty to be gained by learning from what each person created in the image of God has to offer.
The following video by France24 is work a few minutes…footage of those fleeing the military junta and DKBA attack in Burma….and discusses the history of the conflict….
Nikolas Kristof writes about ending the silence associated with talking about sexual violence. A report this week from Free Burma Rangers breaks the silence on the recent gang rape of a 12 year old girl in Shan State, Burma–part of the continuing crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing being carried out by the Burma Army.
Rape is one of the oldest weapons used to terrorize women and children and whole communities. A google search on “rape, why women stay silent” turned up this article about women in DR Congo.
Last year, the UN recognized rape as a weapon of war-something victims have recognized for centuries (see article from Human Rights Watch). It’s almost exactly a year later….has anything changed? More words from the UN-good words, but, maybe I haven’t looked hard enough to find it, but have any of the regimes using this weapon been made accountable for their actions/inactions? Are they being prosecuted? Is it being stopped? How do we make it stop being OK to rape?
Friends on the ground in Burma now report another 300 IDPs have just arrived at a village near the Thai-Burma border (along with the 200+ who arrived days ago). These people are fleeing the continued fighting and oppression of the Burma Army and DKBA, usually arriving with only what they can carry. While this is a more secure location than being under attack in their home villages, this is still a place where kids have to learn in school what a landmine looks like so they don’t accidentally pick one up!
Urgent needs (other than peace and freedom) in order of priority:
1. rice and cooking oil
2. plastic tarps for emergency shelters
3. mosquito nets
Anyone wanting to help out with life-saving resources can donate through our friends at Partners Relief & Development .