Saturday, December 10 (Suggested Reading Matthew 2:13-15; Hebrews 6:17-20; Deuteronomy 6:10-12)
As of December 2015, the total number of refugees in the world was over 65.3 million- that is one out of every 113 people on Earth. And, it is estimated that 24 people are displaced around the world every minute. Over half of these refugees come from Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia, a fact that causes many of the would-be host nations to pause, since these are people who have the potential to bring conflict with them where ever they may resettle.
In Princeton, New Jersey, Nassau Presbyterian Church has been in the refugee business for about 50 years. Their goal is to assist one refugee family every five years. They are currently sponsoring a Muslim family from Syria.
According to their web site, their Refugee Resettlement Committee has sponsored families from Europe, Africa, and Asia, including Bosnia, Sudan, Myanmar, and Syria. All refugees have fled their homelands because of war or political and religious persecution. The committee helps families find housing, jobs, and medical care, enroll children in school, serves as their advocate, tutors the adults in English as a Second Language, provides modest help with start-up expenses, and assists with getting the government benefits to which refugees are entitled.
When God brought Israel out of Egypt and led them through the wilderness, He reminded them frequently of His covenant promise to give them a great land and make them a great nation. Even though they were facing years of misery wandering in the desert, He wanted them to remember Him and His great love and faithfulness toward them, and He wanted them to know that He had a purpose for bringing them through the desert. The long, arduous journey was meant to show them that He was all they needed.
When Jesus’ family fled to Egypt to escape Herod, they discovered what it meant to be refugees. But the passage in Matthew tells us that even in this, God had a purpose- that the prophecy from Hosea 11:1 would be fulfilled.
In a sense, every Christ follower is a refugee. We are living in a world where we don’t really belong. Once we respond in faith to the Gospel message, we become citizens of another country- Heaven. While we are here, though, we have a great hope, one which Hebrews describes as an anchor of the soul, and this hope anchors us within the veil- in the holy of holies- where Jesus sits.
I find it very comforting to remember that for every obstacle in life, Christ is my solution. He is my hiding place from danger, He is my fortress, He is my priest, He is my intercessor. And, as I travel the deserts of this world as a refugee waiting to be settled in my Heavenly home, He is my constant companion and my hope.