New York, NY - September 26, 2015
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has established a special task force on the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. Focused on facilitating a coordinated response from the global to the grass roots level, the task force will strengthen the collaboration between various Evangelical Alliances, agencies and churches that serve the needs of refugees while also addressing key concerns related to the protection of the most vulnerable communities.
Led by Comm. Christine MacMillan, WEA’s Director of Public Engagement, the task force includes WEA’s Ambassador for Refugees, Displaced and Stateless People, the Executive Director of WEA’s Religious Liberty Commission, WEA’s United Nations team in New York and Geneva, leaders of Regional and National Evangelical Alliances and a growing number of partner organizations.
"Over the last months, we have seen governments struggling to find a proper response to help the huge number of people fleeing conflict and persecution. We have seen how certain communities are excluded by the aid and refugee resettlement mechanisms that the United Nations and some European nations have implemented. Our faith calls us to respond in prayer and in concrete action to help and to speak up as the voice of those who are not heard," said Bp Efraim Tendero, Secretary General of the WEA, adding that "setting up this task force will enable us to galvanize the various ongoing efforts among our constituency and strengthen our joint response."
Comm. MacMillan says: "We abhor the violence that causes citizens to flee their homeland as refugees for safety. And while welcoming and serving these vulnerable men, women and children is critical, it does not address the roots of the issue. Therefore the WEA's approach to the refugee crisis includes ongoing negotiations for peace."
The task force will focus on:
- listening to and engage with refugees on the ground through local churches and agencies as well as on the national and regional level;
- advocating to countries around the world to welcome and care for refugees, especially giving priority to the most affected and marginalized religious minorities like those of the Christian faith;
- facilitating and coordinating the engagement of WEA and evangelical partners in advocating for refugee’s human rights at the United Nations;
- raising awareness on the conditions of marginalized religious minorities, religious liberty concerns of refugees, and the security and wellbeing of the vulnerable communities who are in danger of being extinct: most notably the Yazidis and Christian communities;
- facilitating the distribution of resources and hosting of workshops for local churches to respond and engage with refugees at grassroots.
The Bible is full of refugee stories and gives believers a clear mandate to care for the stranger. In the Old Testament, God says that the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself.1 And in the New Testament, Jesus said that those are blessed who care for the least: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.2
Already evangelicals are engaged at every corner along the so-called ‘refugee highway’: Local churches are serving and hosting marginalized refugees in the Middle East and Southern Europe; refugee aid organizations are serving their needs within and outside of refugee camps; in transit and destination countries throughout Europe, evangelical Christians are providing for refugees’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs, even welcoming refugees to stay and live in their homes.
"The refugee crisis is a reminder of our dependence on God and the need for prayer. We therefore call on believers around the world to pray for a peaceful and lasting resolution to conflicts, for a willingness among governments to seriously address the immediate and long-term needs of refugees, and for the most vulnerable Yazidi and Christian communities in the Middle East who are crying out for protection and intervention as they see another genocide unfold," Comm. MacMillan added.
For more information and resources, see also:
- Justice and Compassion - Responding to the Refugee Crisis in Europe (comprehensive resource in PDF format)
- European Evangelical Alliance statement on the Refugee Crisis (Sept 24, 2015)
- WEA's Engagement with Refugees, including resources and links for churches
- WEA's Religious Liberty Commission
- WEA's Engagement at the United Nations in New York and Geneva
Please consider a donation to support WEA’s refugee and religious liberty efforts at this critical time, click here to give.
1 Leviticus 19:34 (NIV); 2 Matthew 25:35 (NIV)
Timothy K. Goropevsek
Director of Communications
+1 212.233.3046 x149
Over two billion Christians in the world today are represented by three world church bodies. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is one of those, serving and representing more than 600 million evangelicals. Launched in 1846 to unite evangelicals worldwide, the WEA continues to be a dynamic movement with 7 regional and 129 national Evangelical Alliances, and over 150 member organizations. WEA's mission is to speak as a trusted voice, to equip members and leaders for global impact and to connect its members and others for common action in the furtherance of God’s reign. For more info e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to Worldea.org.