How desperate would your life need to be for you to leave everyone and everything you knew in pursuit of a better one? To venture into a new place where you were a vilified stranger? To risk death?
For the immigrants and refugees making their way out of crisis, what lies ahead of them may appear to be opportunity, but inevitably what lies behind them is tremendous grief.
The North Carolina Council of Churches has worked for decades to make our state and nation a more welcoming place for those fleeing other countries. Policy on refugee resettlement adopted by the Council’s Governing Board in 1979 reads in part:
And we affirm that God’s loving kindness, which reaches out to us in our need, impels us to reach out to these who are homeless and destitute. Christian compassion requires that we open our hearts, hands, homes, churches, and communities to those who seek a place to lay their heads.
As people of faith whose beliefs are grounded in a child born to displaced parents, we must heed the call to welcome with compassion, to protect the vulnerable, to share what we have with those who have nothing.
The staff of the Council decided that the theme for this year’s Advent devotional guide would be refugees. Clearly the issue is of pressing importance, but we are not the first to address the needs of our sisters and brothers in crisis.
Interestingly, two of the Gospel passages begin with the same words, “In those days.” But the words and messages apply in these days, as well.
We hope that this guide will provide an opportunity for prayerful reflection within your faith community, your family, and on your own. There are children’s activities to help even the very young consider the challenges facing the world they will inherit, and the guide includes information from NC nonprofits providing assistance to refugees.
In this busy season, may we all take the time to think deeply, pray fervently, and act compassionately in this world, in these days.