02 December 2015

Some thoughts on refugees: A sampling of Scripture, some poignant photos, the UNHCR definition, and a song

Words of Jesus 
Just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me. 
For I was hungry and you gave me food, 
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, 
I was naked and you gave me clothing, 
I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 
Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, 
you did not do it to me. 
Matthew 25:31-46

The fast God chooses 
Share your bread with the hungry, 
and bring the homeless poor into your house. 
When you see the naked, cover them. 
Isaiah 58:6-7

God’s law 
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien; 
for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. 
You shall not reap to the very edges of your field. 
You shall not strip your vineyards bare. 
Leave them for the poor and the alien.
When an alien resides with you in your land, 
you shall not oppress the alien. 
The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; 
you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. 
I am the Lord your God. 
Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:9-10,33-34; 23:22

More from God’s law
For the Lord your God loves the strangers, 
providing them food and clothing. 
You shall also love the stranger, 
for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 
You shall not deprive a resident alien of justice. 
Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice. 
Deuteronomy 10:18-19; 24:17-18; 27:19

From the books of wisdom
The Lord watches over the strangers; 
he upholds the orphan and the widow. 
Psalm 146:9

Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, 
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, 
but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, 
and he will repay him for his deed.
Proverbs 14:21, 31; 19:17

Look, the tears of the oppressed, 
with no one to comfort them. 
Ecclesiastes 4:1

The words of a prophet, God's spokesperson
If you truly amend your ways, if you truly act justly with one another, 
if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, 
then I will dwell with you in this place. 
Jeremiah 7:5-7

Thus says the Lord 
Act with justice and righteousness. 
And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow. 
Jeremiah 22:3-5

Words of John the baptizer
Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none 
and whoever has food must do likewise. 
Luke 3:11

Jesus, quoting Isaiah
Bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, 
sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free. 
Luke 4:16-21

Mark of a true Christian
Extend hospitality to strangers. 
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, 
for by doing that some have entertained angels. 
Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:1-2

Practical and probing questions from James
Has not God chosen the poor in the world? 
What good is it if you say you have faith but do not have works? 
If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food 
and you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 
Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 
James 2:5, 14-17

From John, the disciple loved by Jesus
Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God. 
We love because God first loved us. 
1 John 3:18; 4:7-21

According to the UNHCR 
(United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)
The practice of granting asylum to people fleeing persecution in foreign lands is one of the earliest hallmarks of civilization. References to it have been found in texts written 3,500 years ago, during the blossoming of the great early empires in the Middle East such as the Hittites, Babylonians, Assyrians, and ancient Egyptians.

The 1951 Refugee Convention spells out that a refugee is:
"Someone 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 to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."

Refugees have to move if they are to save their lives or preserve their freedom. 

They have no protection from their own state - indeed it is often their own government that is threatening to persecute them.

If other countries do not let them in, and do not help them once they are in, then they may be condemning them to death - or to an intolerable life in the shadows, without sustenance and without rights.

All the poor and powerless,
all the lost and lonely,
all who feel unworthy,
all who hurt with nothing left

All the poor and powerless
And all the lost and lonely
All the thieves will come confess
And know that You are holy
Will know that You are holy

And all will sing out Hallelujah
And we will cry out Hallelujah

And all the hearts that are content
And all who feel unworthy
And all who hurt with nothing left
Will know that You are holy

Shout it
Go on and scream it from the mountains
Go on and tell it to the masses
That He is God 

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