National Refugee Week runs from 14-20 June, 2020.The theme is The Year of Welcome.
At the heart of all Christian ministry is God’s message of welcome.
In 1 Peter 2:11 Christians are addressed as foreigners and exiles in the world. 1 Peter 2:10 reminds us that once we were not a people but that now we are the people of God. Paul reminds the Philippians to turn their back on their earthly citizenship and to embrace new identities as citizens of heaven.
Each of us, in Christ, finds refuge and security, a purpose and a sure future. This is what every refugee is seeking.
Since taking on the role of CEO, I have enjoyed learning more about Anglican Aid projects - not just the administrative details but the way these projects have eventuated. Often they have grown from the vision of a small group (or one person) - a seed that germinates and takes hold and is now growing up and producing surprising fruit.
They see a need and pray about it; they yearn to meet the need and with God’s help a project is born. And in His timing, Anglican Aid becomes part of helping the project to continue and grow. That is where our wonderful prayer and financial supporters come in. Thank you.
Trust and obey
I think of Damascus Church Aid in Syria led by our great friend, Samir Yacco. The conflict in Syria continues after 9 brutal years. An estimated 5.6 million Syrians have been driven from their homes to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, with about 6 million fleeing to the capital, Damascus. Half of the 12 million displaced people are children. People arrive with nothing in areas like Dwel’a, on the doorstep of Christ the Redeemer of the World Baptist Church where Samir is the Senior Pastor. It certainly wasn’t a ministry direction he had planned.
“Before the crisis, our church had 80 adult members – we knew each other – all of a sudden we saw many people coming,” he said. “We had no experience in managing a crisis but the Lord helped us. The Lord is still seeing us through.”
“Our old building wasn’t enough for the newcomers and there was no emergency exit. We prayed about it a great deal. When the old woman next door passed away, her family sold the huge house to us.”
Locals laughed at the thought of a new building, when destruction was all around. “But actually when the order came from above – we couldn’t say no – trust and obey,” Samir said.
Anglican Aid partners with a number of projects that speak directly to refugees, extending Christ’s warm welcome and showing they can trust and obey.
These projects reach refugees from many countries in Guildford, Auburn and Liverpool South, some of whom have come via Samir’s ministry in Syria.
Samir Yacco (left) with The Rev. Tim Booker at Guildford Anglican Church, with church members once helped by the ministry of Damascus Church Aid.
In places like Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Brazil, Kenya and Uganda, projects are meeting the immediate needs of refugees from South Sudan or the Arabic-speaking world, providing services like school education, agricultural training, biblical leadership development, advocacy or assistance with bureaucracy.
These projects have very different approaches and adopt different development models. Yet at their most basic level, they are the same: heartfelt, radical ministries with refugee communities that offer God’s true welcome into his kingdom, his family and his people.
I urge you to support this work with prayer and giving as you are able. Anglican Aid’s End of Financial Year Appeal 2020 will bring certainty and encouragement to ministries such as these, strengthening churches and transforming communities.
Together, let’s truly make this a Year of Welcome.
Related project: Damascus Church Aid