I was glad to attend the North American Refugee Highway Partnership 10th Annual Roundtable in Chicago last month. This was a 2.5 day event for specifically Christian organizations and stakeholders working on behalf of , and around the world and in our communities. There were plenery sessions, multiple workshops with opportunity for "roundtable discussions," times of worship ... and former refugees told their stories of displacement, flight, survival and eventual resettlement in the USA.
One of the blessings and the challenges in this work are the conversations with people who have been forcibly displaced. Most of those ‘conversations’ happen by way of email, but having been at this for 3 years now, there are more happening via Skype, Facebook Messenger and phone.
I would like to share 2 of those conversations with you here. English is not their first language. In order to protect their identity I have changed their names, but I have preserved their words, their message to us …
Understanding how other people are just like us makes it easier to feel compassion for them and love outside of our comfort zones.
One of the challenges in the debate about refugee sponsorship is the hesitance to discuss the issue of racism in our culture and in the church. There is a fear that the slightest admittance that race or cultural differences affect how we live out our beliefs is equal to confessing complete allegiance with history's greatest genocidal offenders.
Judy Wu Dominick has written an excellent article where she proposes, "Let’s take a break from our own trigger-filled context and practice talking about the role of race and racism in the context of biblical history instead." If indeed this has been a struggle for God's people down through the years, perhaps we'll be a little bit more gracious to ourselves and reflect on how to break free of this unspoken sin that entangles us and prevents us from following God's call on our lives to care for the stranger.
You can read her article at: lifereconsidered.com/2016/01/25/a-biblical-approach-to-overcoming-racial-discourse-allergy