To the people who have been forced to flee their homes:
Today, as many around the world observe World Refugee Day, you are on my mind. In the midst of the uncertainty you are experiencing as a refugee, I am praying for you.
One day your life turned upside down. Now you find yourself on the move in an unfamiliar region. Maybe you once lived in a conflict zone. Maybe you walked to a neighboring country, taking with you only the clothes on your back. Maybe you now live in a camp, waiting to receive paperwork that will allow you to travel to a peaceful country and begin a new life.
I wish I could meet you and hear your story — I know it would be a gripping account of your incredible strength, perseverance, and courage. I would welcome the opportunity to sit knee-to-knee with you and tell you how much you are loved by One who sees your struggle to survive the chaos.
Most of all, I would affirm your God-given dignity. I’d remind you that no individual, government, or official refugee status can strip that dignity from you. No matter how you feel in your current circumstances, your value is determined by your Creator, God, who made you in His image. God loves you, and He understands.
In fact, Jesus knows exactly what you have experienced. When He was very young, His family also was forced to flee their home because of persecution from a violent political leader. If His family had stayed, He would have been killed. His own country could not protect Him, so His family sought protection in a different country.
During some of His most formative years, Jesus lived as a sojourner in a strange land. He ate strange food. He was raised among people of a different culture, of different religious practice, of different laws, and of different political systems. When His family finally returned to their home country years later, they could not live in their hometown because they might still face persecution there.
Because Jesus was a refugee, He understands the unique grief and struggle you feel. He understands what it is like to have no place to call home, to suffer unjustly, and to be betrayed by His own people.
Jesus loves you, and He wants to carry you through your grief, sorrow, suffering. He desires for you to know His peace — a peace that surpasses all understanding. He wants you to have the unshakeable hope found only in Him — a hope that stretches forever beyond the troubles of this present world. He desires that you know Him, even as He already knows you and sees what you have been through.
There is no one more “with refugees” than Jesus.
As people use #WithRefugees and #StepWithRefugees on social media channels, know this: There is no one more “with refugees” than Jesus. He once described how His followers should treat other people: “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, ESV). Caring for people in your situation is the very heart of God!
At Unto, we express the kindness of this same Jesus to relieve suffering, restore dignity, and reveal hope in the toughest places on earth. While this letter may not be able to reach into your specific situation to relieve your physical suffering, our organization, and others like us, works tirelessly to do that very thing. In the meantime, I trust these words will encourage you and bring you a true glimpse of lasting hope.
President and CEO
Published June 20, 2018