Refugees Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Refugees

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As a child, he fled violence with his parents. As an adult, he confronted all who would listen: "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." Jesus was a refugee and challenges all those who would follow him to welcome refugees in his name.

In Scripture

Executes justice ["]For the Lord your God . . . executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Deut. 10:17-19).

Anointed ones protected "When they were few in number, of little account, and strangers in the land, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, `Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm'" (1 Chron. 16:7-36).

Ruth "Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?" (Ruth)

Champion the cause of the stranger "I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I championed the cause of the stranger" (Job 29).

Psalm 94 "They kill the widow and the stranger, they murder the orphan, and they say, `The Lord does not see the God of Jacob does not perceive'" (Ps. 94).

"The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow" (Ps. 146).

Jesus as refugee "Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, `Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him. Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt" (Matt. 2:1-18).

"Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me" (Matt. 10:40-42).

Welcomes me "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me" (Matt. 18:1-5).

". . . for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me" (Matt. 25:31-46).

"Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers" (Rom. 12:9-21).

"Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God" (Rom. 15:7).

Brought near by the blood of Christ "Remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:11-22).

Hospitality to strangers "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it" (Heb. 13:1-6).

Points to Ponder

His Name Shall Be Called Adnan To teach the church that the name "Jesus" is only special to us in retrospect but was, in fact, perfectly ordinary at the time, you might retell the story in contemporary language. Adnan is the #1 most popular boy's name in Syria. If Jesus had been born there now instead of in Israel 2000 years ago, it is likely he would have been named "Adnan." Draw out the parallels. They aren't hard to find.

Jesus Was a Refugee Jesus told his disciples "the Son of man has no place to lay his head." This is a beautiful Scriptural pairing to these pictures of fleeing refugee children sleeping — some with no pillow at all, others afraid of their pillow because, throughout their whole life, the bombs came for them while they were asleep on their pillows.

Hospitality A highlighted virtue for the people of Israel was hospitality. Indeed, in the New Testament's telling of it, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was, primarily, a failure of hospitality. Jesus demonstrates it by identifying as one in need of hospitality, he models it in receiving and giving hospitality to others, and the epistles enjoin this behavior of those who would follow Christ.

Do Not Be Afraid When news media shows pictures of the overwhelming flow of refugees, when it's hard to tell, perhaps, who is "safe" and who poses a "threat," it is natural that even Christians may respond with feelings of sorrow and feelings of fear. While this is a natural response, the Bible is clear that fear is a feeling the Christian may experience but by which he or she ought not be controlled. The Holy Spirit gives power and courage. 1 John says that "perfect love casts out fear." It may well be wise to name the fears in the room, but to also speak a word of prophetic challenge that God did not encourage us to offer hospitality only to those "like us" or only when it is easy to do so or only when it is perfectly and certifiably safe. The Bible is clear in providing a prophetic word: "Do not be afraid!"

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.