The Global Refugee Crisis and Us: Sifting Through The Issues to Honor Our King

The Global Refugee Crisis and Us:  Sifting Through The Issues to Honor Our King

Apr 21, 2016


Rev. Nicholas J. Kersten

Director of Education and History

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” — Matthew 2:13-15 (ESV)

“The first story we have about the baby Jesus is that He was driven to a foreign nation by a murderous king.”

— David Platt




There is no shortage of trouble in our sin-scarred world. In our times (as in all times), sin has run rampant, bringing with it the death and destruction which is its primary calling card. But our times are different in the amount of information about this scale and scope of the groans of our world (Romans 8:22). We no longer need to wait for trouble to invade our small circle of family and friends to be affected by it. We are assaulted daily with new information about evil happening elsewhere in the broader world. We, too, groan inwardly as we wait for the redemption of ourselves and this world. Depending on your constitution, giftings and experiences, different kinds of evils may strike you differently. But all of us are buffeted daily by news of disasters, wars and famine.

It is difficult in the face of such widespread pain and suffering to be moved by anything anymore. Becoming calloused to the disasters and struggles surrounding us is a common coping strategy. Others ignore any news of the broader world, choosing to focus only on the trouble which is directly in front of them. Still others despair, and give up their hope altogether. But none of these responses are the ones which the Scriptures call us to as followers of Christ. The call of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is to move to the places where pain and destruction are most prevalent with the message of hope and forgiveness that is in Jesus — only He can undo the damage of sin in us and in our world.

When it comes to places where we could choose to minister, there is no shortage of options. Anywhere we take the hope, mercy, grace and forgiveness of Christ is a worthy place for our lives to be spent in service. But in case you were short on ministry locations, I would like to suggest one to each of you: to aid in the global refugee crisis which is currently tearing at our world.

The simplest definition of a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee the country of his birth to escape war, natural disaster, or imminent persecution. These are people who have been ravaged by disaster or have had the sin of the world explode in their neighborhoods, putting their lives in danger. In response to the dangerous conditions, they uproot themselves and cast their fates to the wind, hoping that they land in a place that will be safe.

Though the news is reporting most frequently on the horrific refugee crisis which is impacting Syria [nearly half the nation, 11.6 million people, have fled their homes since the civil war began in March 2011], the truth is that caring for refugees has become a world issue. Nearly 60 million people are currently refugees, and half that number are children. To put that number in perspective, if refugees were gathered into a single nation, they would be the 24th largest nation on earth, and a nation bigger (by population) than Canada and Australia put together. The scope of this crisis is very, very large.

Refugees overwhelmingly flee from nations where Christianity is not prominent and may be openly persecuted. To say that differently: refugees are fleeing from nations where it would have been difficult or impossible for them to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are fleeing to locations where the Gospel is much, much easier to hear — if anyone will go to them and preach. But in order to hear, someone must go. In order for them to live long enough to survive to hear it, they need a loving care response from the people of God in the form of water, food, clothes and shelter.

Sadly, in America’s highly charged political environment, refugees have become a partisan talking point. America’s politicians have reduced a humanitarian crisis affecting nearly 60 million people into an argument about 10,000 people who might want to enter our country. Such rhetoric would cause us to miss the ways we can help millions of immigrants who want nothing more than to return to their homes in safety.

To be clear: no person, made in God’s image with the requisite dignity and value that goes along with that, should be reduced to a partisan talking point.

We must not miss the clear call of the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation to carry the good news and to take care of the sojourners (refugees), orphans and widows in order to defend a secular political philosophy (see Deuteronomy 27:19). If we care more about our national partisan politics than the unsaved people from the nations, we shouldrepent and turn away from our self-centeredness.

On December 17, I participated in a planning meeting for the GC2 Summit, which focused on a unified evangelical Christian response to the refugee crisis. More than 150 church leaders from diverse theological traditions came together to affirm the Bible’s clear teaching on the issue of treating refugees with kindness and dignity — and to plan a summit for a broad audience on January 20. The statement on the importance of refugees drafted by the planning committee, as well as videos from the speakers at the GC2 Summit, can be found at the website:

If you or your church would like more information about the global refugee crisis, you can contact me. For more information from two of the main Christian agencies ministering in this crisis go to: World Relief ( and World Vision ( May God give you the heart to serve the nations with his Gospel.

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