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
|Refugees to U.S. by Country of Nationality – Fiscal Years 2009 to 2011
|Congo, Democratic Republic
|All other countries, including unknown
|Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (Wraps)
Report (May 2012), from Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics is linked here: Refugees and Asylees:2011.
“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.
Information published July 5th from the UN High Commissioner for refugees states that “…more than 80 per cent of the world’s refugees live in developing countries where many cannot remain safely and have no possibility of integration. For many refugees, resettlement in a third country is the only way to find lasting safety and a new and permanent home. While voluntary repatriation remains the preferred solution among most of the worlds refugees, persistent conflict or fear of persecution often prevent people from returning to their countries of origin.” http://www.unhcr.org/4c31f3826.html
Refugee resettlement statistics by country of origin and state http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/data/fy2009RA.htm
This group is run by friends (mostly former refugees) who are giving 110% of their time and energy to helping folks resettled in the Northwest (and other places in the U.S.). They can always use help and their web site gives you ideas of what some of that help might involve: http://www.allburmarefugees.org/
A list of the agencies that resettle refugees and more about their programs: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/partners/voluntary_agencies.htm