Who are migrants? A Reflection for Global Migration Sunday
There are 65 million displaced people in the world today. That’s more than at any other time since World War II. In response to the global migration crisis, The United Methodist Church has planned a day of prayer and a special offering to raise awareness and funds to aid migrants and refugees. Learn more about the people Global Migration Sunday will assist.
Every five seconds…a person is displaced. Forced to leave their home in order to escape war...persecution…or natural disaster. It has become a global issue. In not only Africa and Asia but also in Europe…the Middle East…and the Americas.
Over 65 million people are displaced worldwide, departing a home they don’t want to leave, on a journey they don’t want to take.
Over 22 million are refugees, fleeing repression, conflict, and climate change. Over half are under 18. And 10 million are stateless, without access to education, healthcare, employment, or freedom of movement.
Paul Jeffrey: "My job as a missionary is to tell stories using both images and words about how God is moving in the world to empower people who’ve too long been relegated to the margins.
In some of the societies in which we are engaged in mission work, refugees are often seen as a burden.
But I would like to suggest today that we as people of faith see refugees and the displaced as blessings to us.
After all, these strangers may be angels. Or Jesus."
In 2015, one image, of a Syrian boy, brought into sharp focus the plight of the migrant and refugee.
But there are other boys, on other beaches. Another pair of sneakers….one brand new….one lost.
Life as a refugee is hard. Displaced people are not always welcomed. Hungary insisted migrants keep moving…to somewhere else.
Cambodians have been displaced by modern development, and mining operations in the Philippines have forced indigenous people from their villages.
In Brazil, loggers have destroyed forest homes, and corporations have stolen land from native people in Argentina. In Kenya, the government is closing the world’s largest refugee settlement, even though it provides critical services to hundreds of thousands of people.
Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic have no legal status, and people deported from the U.S. are sent back to the violent northern triangle of Central America.
This young farmer in Honduras resisted the theft of his land, and paid the ultimate price.
Still, hope thrives in a hopeless environment. In this Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, church agencies are working to make improvements.
This family made it to a Palestinian camp, where they found welcome support from their new neighbors, themselves refugees.
In Czechoslovakia, volunteers guide families across the Serbian/Croatian border.
The Croatians will organize all this transport for free. You don’t have to pay anything.
A Methodist lay woman in Austria teaches cooking to migrant boys.
"Vas is this?" (laughter)
In Uganda, the global health unit of the United Methodist Global Ministries is helping children to thrive.
In Germany, Methodist minister Rolf Held has helped a town of 6,000 people receive over 3500 refugees, most of them Muslim.
Rev. Rolf Held: "We found they are very open. They come to our Christian services in our local Methodist church, a lot of them want to find out what do Christians do."
Refugees who were attacked in Zimbabwe found shelter in the Central Methodist Mission in Johannesburg.
And, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, it was ordinary people who organized and rescued drowning refugees, helping them toward freedom. Paul Jeffrey will never forget one grateful migrant, a Christian from Syria.
Paul Jeffrey: "First, he carried his daughters ashore, and when he was sure that they and his wife were safe, hugged by a Norwegian volunteer, he knelt on the beach, covered with deflated rubber rafts, and prayed with thanksgiving. Nabil then arose and came and hugged his family, kissing the Norwegian woman, his wet clothes dropping water as he repeated over and over, shokran, shokran, thank you, thank you."
Learn more about how the church responds to the issue of global migration.