“When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34
Refugee resettlement has been a part of my church experience since I was a young person. My home congregation in Austin resettled refugees from Laos and Cambodia in the wake of the Vietnam War. We welcomed and helped get established individuals fleeing violence in Central America. Meeting and experiencing growing up with refugees and their children deepened my understanding of our global communion and world.
Refugees have, and continue to be, in the news regularly. Many organizations, political groups, religious entities, and others talk about refugees, serve them, and some choose to vilify them. In an era of violence and anxiety, the refugee has become a face of fear and anxiety, both for the refugee as well as for those in whose country they seek refuge.
There is a great deal of misinformation about refugees and how they are granted this status.
The Lutheran church has a long heritage of working with refugees. In particular because in the wake of WWII, one out of every six refugees in our world were Lutherans, the Lutheran World Federation was born. As a result, we are committed to caring for those God calls us to care for, particularly refugees.
In the United States, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) is one of the ways we work together with other Lutheran bodies (including the LC-MS) to service. This organization has a long and storied history of assisting in refugee resettlement. We are grateful for their work.
One of the most important aspects of understanding our refugee sisters and brothers is to listen to and hear their stories. Southern Methodist University & Human Rights Media have put together a remarkable podcast series in which refugees tell their own stories. Certainly a wonderful resource so close to us here in NT-NL.
In this time of anxiety, it is important that we educate ourselves about who refugees are and how we are called, by God through Holy Scripture, to be welcoming to those seeking refuge.