Tori Ford, Senior English & Family Studies major from San Antonio.
Over two steaming cups of Starbucks hot chocolate, I listened to two refugee girls tell me their stories.
They spoke of flight, homemade jollof rice, their new schools and the deaths of loved ones. They spoke of countries and landscapes that they missed, along with family members left behind. They spoke of civil war, fear, displacement and of hope. They were both sixteen years old.
Our nation’s refugee admittance ceiling recently hit an all-time low at 30,000 for the year of 2019, yet, there are 25.4 million refugees worldwide, a number quite large in comparison to the small portion America will resettle.
The truth is that our world is facing a crisis. The Christian community should be upset and motivated by this, and we must act on the biblical calling to serve refugees.
Exodus 22:21 says this: “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” Later on Exodus 23:9 echoes this while also saying “you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners.” Americans should understand this sentiment, since most of our ancestors were also once foreigners to the New World.
Caring for foreigners is not a command exclusive to those who experienced the Exodus; this message of mercy reappears in the New Testament as caring for the archetypal and socially constructed “other” of society.
Hebrews 13:2 says that we should “show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” God’s love is not exclusive to one race or nationality, but for Jew and Gentile alike, refugee and American alike.
I’m not a Biblical scholar, but I believe in refugee ministry.
During this period of change, vulnerability and international crisis, Christian communities have the opportunity to show a beautiful mercy to refugees. At a time such as now, amidst the Syrian and Rohingya refugee crises, civil wars and even the conflicts America is a part of, we can create safe places of refuge for the displaced.
It starts with seeing the pain of two uprooted teenage girls. It starts with a prayer. It starts with getting informed, reading refugee stories and giving some of your time to local causes. It starts now and it starts with us.
Be bold enough to say, “Refugees Welcome.”