International Refugee Day is observed on the 20th of June. "Time and Date" describes this event as honoring "the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence."
My eyes were opened as I researched about the refugee crisis deeper. The lives that have been affected by war and persecution to this extreme outnumber the population of France, with more than half of these lives being children. Many refugees have seen family members die in war, have been severely injured by violence, have lost parents and children at sea as they fled their homeland. As I researched this crisis further, I read about an Indonesian man who traveled by boat hoping to find somewhere safe. When he and the other refugees that were with him landed on a shore of a neighboring country, they were found "by men in uniform and pushed back to sea."
Many refugees are stuck between not being able to return to their homeland, yet not being able to find a home elsewhere. Another story was of a man, his wife and their young children, who escaped from violence in Syria only to be forced to live in a tent in Lebanon, outside of a shopping center. The husband said in the report, "We’re stuck here. We can’t go on and we can’t go back... My children need to go to school, they need a future."
It is burdensome enough to leave a place you once knew as home, yet to leave it due to violence, war and persecution, only to come to a place that can be so unwelcoming and cold, is heartbreaking. What many of these refugees have gone through is unfathomable.
We cannot ignore this. We must ask ourselves, are we willing to help these people? Will we give, as we are called to give- generously, abundantly? Will we show them a safe refuge with open arms?
These are human beings who have seen so much turmoil and unrest, who are searching for rest and safety just like we all are. They have stories to tell, dreams to accomplish, hopes for the future and plans for their family. Parents long for their children to grow up in a place where they have a roof over their heads, are fed daily, are given an education and a future. Children long to see joy and laughter, safety and comfort. How can we deny them of that and push them away?