Today, June 20, is World Refugee Day. If you’re like me, maybe you’ve never heard of it before. For those of us in the Western world, the idea of being a refugee—of being forced to flee your home under threat of persecution, conflict, and violence—is unthinkable.
But for millions of people around the world, this is reality. The UN Refugee Agency reports that there are over 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world.
Imagine having no home… no security… no privacy… no way to adequately feed, shelter and educate your children. Get a glimpse into a Syrian refugee camp in this video from Samaritan’s Purse:
Over the last week as I watched the news coverage of events in Iraq, my thoughts and prayers turned to a segment of that country’s population not often mentioned in the news – Iraqi Christians.
Open Doors reports:
In the past several days, hundreds of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee from their homes. Islamic extremists have taken over the northern part of the country, where the few remaining Christians live.
In 2003, there were a million Christians in Iraq—today there are less than 345,000... and hundreds more have been forced to flee due to the violence. The rising influence of radical Islam has accounted for increased attacks specifically against Christians. These Iraqi believers are joining the ranks of countless other Christian refugees from countries like Central African Republic, Syria and North Korea.
Christianity Today quotes the vicar of St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad, who recently wrote, "Things are so bad now in Iraq, the worst they have ever been.”
So much tragedy… so much pain, in Iraq and Syria and in so many places around the world.
1. Support ministries that reach out to refugees.
Below are some organizations EPM recommends:
Open Doors USA is working with refugees from Iraq, Syria and other countries to support their physical, emotional and spiritual needs
Samaritan’s Purse is providing emergency food and other supplies as refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria are pouring into northern Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. They also support local ministry partners throughout the region as they provide physical relief in Jesus' name to suffering people.
World Relief is on the ground in South Sudan working with families internally displaced by the current violence.
2. Get your family personally involved through a hands-on project.
Voice of the Martyrs offers a great opportunity to provide much-needed items for Syrian refugees by filling an Outreach Pack with things such as clothing, bedding, and toiletries. You can also sponsor a pack to be filled and distributed. My family is going to be filling a pack this month and I encourage you to consider doing so as well, as a great way to get your children involved in tangibly helping refugees!
3. Pray for refugees around the world.
Randy writes, “There is no greater ministry, no higher calling, no better investment than prayer.”
And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong (Leviticus 19:33).
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause (Isaiah 1:17).
Eternal Perspective Ministries
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.