The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), together with the Refugee Highway Partnership (RHP), call on churches to participate in the upcoming World Refugee Sunday on June 19 or 26 – the Sundays before and after the United Nations’ World Refugee Day. Highlighting the practical role that churches play in responding to the rising numbers of refugees, this year’s theme is taken from Deuteronomy 10:18 where it says, “The Lord defends the rights of orphans and widows. He cares for foreigners and gives them food and clothing.” (CEV)
“The theme of this year’s World Refugee Sunday focuses on God’s deep concern for the world’s most vulnerable, reminding us that He defends and protects. Our hope is that, as churches around the world unite in praying for the forcibly displaced, millions will experience protection and miraculous help from the Living God,” said Gordon Showell-Roger, Facilitator of the RHP, adding that “As a European, the Ukraine war has brought the awful realities of wars around the world very close to home. Behind the statistics are millions of people and their families, real people with their own stories of pain and suffering.”
He also pointed out that “the largest numbers displaced this last year have been from Afghanistan and Ukraine – but there are hundreds of thousands of others also forced from their homes in many other places, all across the globe.”
The United Nations now estimates the number of displaced people to be above 100 million globally1. Major crises have been featured prominently but not equally in the news in recent months. Notably, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Ethiopia: whilst other conflicts in Myanmar, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan, and other smaller African and Asian displacements have not been highlighted by the media.
Commenting on the challenge of varying news perspectives around conflicts and displacement, RHP Global Leadership Team member Jude Simion commented, “My prayer and hope are that the Church will not get caught in the media portrayal of displacement narratives, but genuinely seek to know the truth and suffering behind the numbers. Behind every statistic, we can hear the stories of pain and survival. At the same time, the resilience of the displaced Church and her faithfulness to serving the needy deserves recognition.”
Highlighting the prevalence of the theme of refugees in the Bible, WEA Secretary General Bishop Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher said, “Refugees and strangers are protected by Biblical law in the Old Testament. Patriarchs and prophets had to flee. Baby Jesus and his family took refuge in Egypt and were saved by “unbelievers”. Early on, converts to faith in Jesus lost their earthly homes. By praying for and speaking up for refugees we help the world being transformed into a better home but also stand up for our own family of believers.”
To help churches participate in World Refugee Sunday, a variety of resources have been prepared and made available online.
WEA Migration & Refugee Network Hold Online Roundtable on Evangelical Response to Refugee Crisis
In the context of World Refugee Sunday, the newly formed Migration and Refugee Network (MRN) of the WEA is hosting a global roundtable on the evangelical response to the refugee crises on June 17th.
“Today we reflect with sadness on a new low: one hundred million forcibly displaced persons globally. What does this mean for the Church that is God’s agent of reconciliation on this earth? What does it mean to follow the Biblical mandate to do justice and love mercy or to love our neighbor as ourselves?” asked Chris Pullenayegem, Director of the MRN.
Commenting on the roundtable, he said, “We recorded best practices, perceptions and helpful suggestions from theologians and practitioners that would help us agree on a common theological framework of how we as an evangelical body could be proactive and responsive to this escalating crisis. Although migration and the forcible displacement of people has been a historical constant, we would like to discover how the Church can be consistent in word and deed, giving shape and form to her engagement with refugees in particular. What would that look like in our witness to the world? Stay tuned…”
For more information about the WEA Migration & Refugee Network consultation, click here.
About the Refugee Highway Partnership
Because of our God-inspired love for refugees and our biblical responsibility to care for forcibly displaced persons, the Refugee Highway Partnership (RHP), as a collaborative global voice, initiates, connects and equips Christians for effective ministry with forcibly displaced people.
About the WEA Migration & Refugee Network
The MRN was set up to support congregations and facilitate a coordinated response from the global to the grassroots level; to strengthen the collaboration between various Evangelical Alliances, agencies and churches in serving the needs of refugees, migrants and the newest and most vulnerable communities in our midst.
About the World Evangelical Alliance
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 more than 600 million evangelicals belonging to churches that are part of 143 national Evangelical Alliances in 9 regions. Launched in London in 1846, the WEA unites evangelicals across denominations for prayer, evangelism, mission, theological education, religious freedom, human rights advocacy and engagement in a wide range of social issues. It speaks with one voice to United Nations, governments and media in public or through behind-the-scenes diplomacy on issues of common concern to the Church. For more information, visit worldea.org.