How Will Western Adventists Respond to the Refugee Crisis?
Senior Pastor, Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist Church, Silver Spring, Maryland
Many in the West gasped when we saw the photo of drowned Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy who washed ashore in Greece.
After the picture went viral, there was an initial outcry for Western nations to do something. For us to assist in some way with the Syrian refugee crisis, but, much like our three-day news cycle, far too many in the West just moved on. After all it was just one child. Or was it?
According to the many pictures we have all been seeing and after speaking with the frontline workers I had the privilege of meeting at ADRA’s European Refugee Summit in Croatia, held January 18-19, the news cycle has passed but this human tragedy remains.
There are, to date, over 12,000 unaccompanied, orphaned children that have been registered at refugee camps in Macedonia. Children that are more susceptible to the evils of the world, evils like sexual exploitation and slavery. There are still refugees pouring into Europe, places like Serbia where 4,500 a day are still making the journey in winter to escape war, torture, starvation, and persecution. And yes there are still bodies, including the bodies of children washing-up on the shores of Europe.
Praise God that while far too many in the West have been able to push the pictures of dead Aylan to the back of their mind, in Europe many NGO’s have not pushed the tragedy to the back of their minds, including our very own ADRA Europe that is ministering to the needs of the refugees in 17 countries. The example of these ADRA leaders and volunteers, many of them young adults illustrated to me what it truly means to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
The example of these ADRA leaders and volunteers, many of them young adults illustrated to me what it truly means to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
I went to the ADRA Refugee Summit in Croatia with a desire to help the refugees flooding out of the Middle East into Europe and eventually beyond. I left with more than a desire, I left with a resolve to not forget, to not turn a blind eye, to not think it is just one child that is drowning in the European waters, I left with a resolve for myself and my church to partner with our brothers and sisters in Europe to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
There are many churches here in North America that could make a huge impact on this crisis with minimal sacrifice, but even if the sacrifice were great wouldn’t it be worth it, if it meant one less three-year-old would be found face down dead on the shores of Europe?
I want to challenge churches and church members to not turn a blind eye, don’t wait for a Conference, Union, or Division committee action, seek how you can get involved today! Could you help our church in Greece (membership 450) establish an ADRA team? Could you take some time to volunteer with ADRA in one of these 17 countries? Could you find out what items are needed and collect those in your town in your church and send them to those most in need? What could you do? Reach out today to ADRA International or ADRA-EU, let us not just talk about being the church, let us actually be the church as we face one of the great human crises of this generation.