World Refugee Day is June 20
We hear statistics like the following:
- 65.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide
- 21.3 million refugees
- 10 million stateless people
- 33,972 people a day forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution
Source: UNHCR, June 20, 2016
Behind each of these numbers are stories of families who no longer have a home to return to. Stories like the one we heard from Kari about a family she met — a mother and her two daughters, ages 10 and 12, who were forced to flee the violence, their home, and her job in the Middle East. When she fled, she had to leave her husband’s body behind. They paid a smuggler to take them across the Mediterranean on an overfilled rubber raft in hopes of making it to safety in Greece.
Kari shared with us, “When we entered their tent, they were welcoming and eager to tell us their story. As the woman talked, she wept. She wept for her husband, for her lost family members, for her home, for her job, for her country, for her people. She said she kept going only for her daughters, as they tried to comfort her while she was telling us her story. She had no other hope.
“My friends and I went back to visit her every time we were at the camp during our four weeks there. We listened to her, cried with her, loved her, and spoke truth into her. After a few visits, we started noticing a change in her. She began to smile and tell of the good memories she had of her life before. We were able to share the gospel with her and her daughters. They even came to church with us a couple times. We invited the Holy Spirit to be present in her tent and played worship music quietly in the background. By the last visit, she greeted us with laughter and smiles. The atmosphere was completely different from the first time we met. But most importantly, the attitude of her heart was different.
“The Holy Spirit had started a healing work within her, and the evidence of this was reflected on the outside. She shined with hope and joy now. And although she never accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior while we were there, we felt a promise from the Lord that one day she would. Jesus heals the most broken and hurting people, if only we invite Him in.”
We don’t have to cross over the ocean and go to Greece or the Middle East to welcome refugees. Refugees continue to arrive in Minnesota from all over the world.
We want to build a team of Hope’s people to welcome a newly arrived refugee family some time during this next year — to walk alongside them as they adjust to life in Minnesota, finding new hope, new beginnings and new friends. How can you be part of this welcome?