CHICAGO, IL (June 1, 2016) — The number of refugees around the world continues to rise to all-time highs, and Serve Globally asks that Covenanters observe World Refugee Day on June 20 and consider how they can support people who have been forced from their homes.
“The plight of refugees is unfathomable to us,” said Al Tizon, Serve Globally executive minister. “A refugee has lost everything—homeland, home, community, assets, and more often than not, loved ones—and these losses are often sudden. Displaced and travel-weary, they experience disorientation and tremendous grief, not to mention hunger, danger, and sickness. To remember them in prayer is the beginning of doing our part in addressing this great need.”
The Covenant’s refugee webpage highlights ways that Covenanters can become involved. In a video posted on the site, missionary Barbara Swanson, who lives in Antwerp, Belgium, tells how some refugees, assisted through the Covenant’s work there, have become Christians because of the love they received.
One refugee had moved eight times before being taken in by a church family. “I was so tired, and I really needed some place,” she said.
Rhonda Egging, a missionary in Sweden, says, “All the refugees describe long, dangerous, and expensive journeys, but they all start with ‘Syria was a beautiful place to live,’ And the story ends with, ‘Now there is nothing left, so we are here.’”
The country has welcomed the refugees, referring to them as “new Swedes,” Egging says.
Dave Husby, director of Covenant World Relief, says the Syrians have undergone horrible ordeals, adding that he hoped people would also remember the plight of refugees around the world, such as those who have fled violence in Central African Republic and South Sudan.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, roughly 42,500 people are forcibly displaced from their homes every day. More than half are under the age of 18, and whether they remain displaced within their countries or seek safety elsewhere, their journeys are often treacherous.
At least 880 people died in the past week when the vessels that carried them wrecked or capsized in the Mediterranean, according to the UN. So far this year, 2,510 people have died crossing the route.