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How can we help? (pt.3)

June 14, 2022

Visiting asylum seekers in an abandoned building in France

World Refugee Day is on June 20th. The media will no doubt share how the global refugee crisis is escalating as never before. The numbers will be impossible for our hearts to grasp. Many of us will ask,

What can I do to help?

This might surprise you, but we can find some really practical answers to this question by looking at the example of Moses' father-in-law.

The Example of Reuel

We meet Reuel soon after Moses became a refugee. The story begins in Exodus 2.

We meet Reuel soon after Moses became a refugee.

Moses was forced to flee Egypt after killing an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave. Moses fled into the wilderness. He eventually found refuge with the family of a priest in Midian named Reuel. I don't think it is a coincidence that his name means “Friend of God”.

When Reuel heard about Moses, he was quick to invite him into his home for a meal. He then invited Moses to stay with them. Reuel later gave Moses a job as a shepherd. Moses ultimately became family – marrying one of Reuel’s daughters. And when God called Moses to return to Egypt, Reuel gave him his blessing (Ex 4:18).

Lead with hospitality.

Reuel and his family show us how hospitality is a wonderful starting point when serving refugees. They are a practical example of what Jesus meant when he said, "I was a stranger and you invited me in." (Matthew 25:35)

Pastor Gatera is a former refugee from Burundi. He serves with IAFR as our Refugee Church Consultant. He has spent most of his life in refugee camps. He tells me that social isolation and loneliness are among the greatest challenges they face - both in the camps and here in the US.

Refugees struggle with isolation and loneliness.

While humanitarian agencies and governmental services provide important assistance to refugees, hospitality is not one of their strengths. That’s why it is important for Christians and churches to show up in the lives of refugees and asylum seekers with a warm welcome and the invitation of hospitality. If we don’t, who will?

Offering shelter and community

Reuel provided Moses with both shelter and community by inviting him to live with his family.

IAFR's Jonathan House ministry in the Twin Cities is following his example by intentionally providing both shelter and community to asylum seekers - people who have come to the US seeking refuge.

Moses ultimately became part of Reuel's family, by marrying one of his daughters. He found genuine belonging with Reuel and his family. Belonging is among the deepest needs of any soul.

Belonging is among the deepest needs of any soul.

I have friends who took a young refugee from Congo into their home. He has since become part of their family. They did not need to join an organization. They simply opened their home and their lives to a refugee. They are following the example of Reuel.

Employment

Reuel employed Moses as a shepherd. Given how Moses grew up in the palaces of Egypt, it is unlikely he knew much about shepherding. Reuel or someone in the family likely taught Moses the ropes before entrusting the sheep and goats to his care.

It’s the same today. Many refugees need an opportunity to learn skills that will help them find work in their new context. They often need help finding employment as well.

A Challenge

It's pretty amazing that we can learn so much about welcoming and caring for refugees from the example of a Midianite priest that lived in the wilderness thousands of years ago.

Reuel didn't solve the problems of all the displaced people in the world. But he did take in one who crossed his path. The risks of extending such hospitality did not stop him. And he had no idea of God's plans for the stranger he chose to welcome.

A quick recap - What can we do to help?

- Invite a refugee or asylum seeker into our homes for a meal

- Open our homes as a temporary refuge to a refugee or asylum seeker

- Help a refugee to learn a helpful trade

- Help a refugee find a job

- Help a refugee find local community, integrating them into our family life and/or circles of friends

- Invite a refugee to participate in our local faith community

- Tom Albinson

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