“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew 2:12-14
The Scripture verses above recall the time when Herod ordered all the children under two years old be killed because he feared the loss of his throne. Joseph and Mary were sent to seek refuge in Egypt. Today women, men and children continue to flee oppression and danger in their home countries. However, there is now a legal definition and rules surrounding refugees.
A refugee is any person who is outside his or her home country and is unable to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Jesus would be a political refugee in today’s world.
Refugees flee their home country due to persecution, civil war, or genocide and seek refuge in a second country, often in temporary camps set up by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Most refugees never leave those “temporary” camps; unable to return home or resettle in a third country. The UNHCR estimates that there are approximately 10.5 million refugees awaiting a homecoming or resettlement right now. Less than one percent of those refugees will resettle in a third country that they can finally call home.
To learn more about refugees and how you can get involved see the following links:
- United Nations High Commissioner of Refugee Website
- For every refugee there is a story of great sacrifice, patience and hope. Here is just one example of the many varied and long journeys refugees take to finally make it to a place of safety.
- The United States resettles tens of thousands of refugees each year. To find how many and from where, look at the 2013 Presidential Determination of Refugee Admissions.
- Church World Services (CWS) is one national agency that assists in the resettlement process. PC(USA) has had an ongoing relationship with CWS since the late 1940’s. CWS has affiliate agencies across the U.S. doing the grassroots work of resettling refugees into their new homes in America. Learn more about CWS and how you assist with refugee resettlement in or near your hometown.
- Learn more about the refugee ministry of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
- Office of Immigration Issues Refugee Toolkit