I hear a lot of talk among the church people I talk to about looking forward to when this time of Covid-19 is over and wondering what church may look like when that day comes.
Recently, I find myself much more interested in what churches are doing now – today – in the midst of a pandemic in which we have been asked to remain physically distant from one another.
What is right here, right now, that we can be about? What are the “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" for today?
Covid-19 has been a game changer on so many different levels:
We and people in our communities face uncertainty about a myriad of questions:
There are currently 70.8 million forcibly displaced people worldwide of which 25.9 million are refugees and 3.5 million are asylum seekers (February 2020). Unfortunately, as more countries experience unrest, those numbers continue to rise as seen from recent events in Venezuela. Some of these "millions" are single adults or children, many are parents with young families, several have fled with older parents. Each one is looking for a place to call home. Any place to call home.
As the refugee crisis continues, we can expect these numbers to rise. The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative and the Global Compact on Refugees are working with global partners looking for ways to ease the pressure on host countries and beyond traditional means of finding a place for those have been forcibly displaced.
Even before the days of Covid-19, refugees, asylum seekers and those who have been forcibly displaced from their homes needed our prayers. Today they need them more than ever.
Isolation and physical distancing is strange for us in North America. Yet today, many of us are isolated in our homes that are plenty big enough for us. Our fridges are full or at least easily filled; our medications can be refilled with a phone call. Some of us have the blessing of a yard - we can putter in the snow or the soil as the case may be. And our country has passed an Emergency Measures Bill that means many of us will be paid while we stay home.
This is not the case for refugees. When this pandemic hits the camps and cities where soap and water are scarce - well, let's just say, we need to pray for and be a voice of encouragement to as many of these families as we can.
And the good news? We have the means to make a big difference in the lives of thousands. I have a list of refugees ready to be prayed for by name. If you're willing to connect via email, you can encourage them directly.
At the very least, download the pdf "Ten Ways to Pray for Refugees." Share the link with people in your congregation.
More than anything, our world today needs people who will pray. This global pandemic and the refugee crisis are both far too large and complex for us to solve. It is only by the merciful intervention of our kind, compassionate and holy God that any long-term solutions will be found.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
Thank you for praying!
I recently crossed paths with an interesting woman in Argentina. She had participated in a "community sponsorship" in her city and was now looking for someone to help her sponsor another refugee she had met. Canada is the only country in the world with a working private sponsorship of refugees program, so when I heard that Argentina was allowing citizens to sponsor someone, I had to learn more.
The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative for several years has been looking for global answers to the current refugee crisis. One solution is Community Sponsorship. As GRSI explains:
Community-based sponsorship programs allow individuals to directly engage in refugee resettlement efforts. Sponsors commit to providing financial, emotional and resettlement support to help newly-arrived refugees integrate into life in a new country.
Countries around the world are starting to explore private sponsorship or community sponsorship, providing their citizens with the means to do something - something that Canadians have been privileged to do for 4 decades. It turns out, Argentina is one of those countries and Susana is one of those citizens. This is her story...