Do More than Cheer on the Refugee Olympic Team in Rio (But do that too)June 26, 2016
The Summer Olympics are still more than a month away, but the 2016 Games are already making history by including the first refugee team.
Previously and traditionally, those athletes who did not represent a country were not allowed to compete, but this year, 10 athletes- 6 men and 4 women will compete under the Olympic flag.
These refugee athletes will compete in swim events, track and field, the marathon and judo. They are from Syria, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Friends, as you are watching the Olympics, look for these athletes. Cheer them on. But don’t just watch- take the time to learn about their lives and the lives touched by the worldwide refugee crisis happening right now. And some ideas of what you can do.
The UN Refugee Agency estimates there are 65.3 million people who are forcibly displaced from their homeland. 33, 972 people A DAY are forced from their home due to conflict or persecution.
Put that stunning number in context. In 2013 the estimated population of Orlando was around 255,000 people. At 34,000 people a day evacuating their homes, that means in 7 and a half days the entire population of Orlando would be evacuated. One week.
What can we do? What should we do? What will we do?
Prayer and Action
Obviously, Christians need to respond with love and compassion for refugees and seek to not only show practical love in action, meeting immediate needs of those who have lost everything, demonstrating the fullness of the Gospel in all its grace and truth.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:25-36)
Understand the Times
Knowing what we ought to do requires us to “understand the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32). Wise and innocent… Hospitality to strangers is a Biblical command. “If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help them, like a stranger or a sojourner.” Leviticus 25:35 and yet, we recognize that some are using the cover of the refugee flow to make their way into Western nations for nefarious reasons.
Provide Direct Relief
Help with direct aid in the Middle East is essential. Here are two examples of organizations working on the ground:
Samaritan’s Purse provided 20,000 blankets, 3800 baskets of food, 5000 pillows, 7500 mattresses, 4500 pairs of shoes and tons of other aid to refugees in Iraq last year.
Convoy of Hope has been serving refugee camps in Europe and the Middle East provided food, shelter, heating oil, coats and other necessities, particularly for the most vulnerable — women and children.
Serve our New Neighbors
Every year, refugees from around the world are resettled in the United States. The US Office of Refugee Resettlement works with private organizations to assist refugees with their move. You could assist by befriending a refugee family. They will help learning English, preparing for and finding a job, enrolling their children in school and simply, starting a whole new life. Find out more about these agencies:
Love in Action
The Lord makes it clear that we are to be His witnesses, both in our own Jerusalem, and our Judea (a similar culture close by), our Samaria (a different culture not too far away) and to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). We are to cross borders, to let the earth hear His voice, to proclaim God’s Word to the nations, to put feet to our faith, to express the love of Christ in practical actions, on the ground, where people are, meeting desperate needs.