The so called “migrant crisis” has taken everyone by surprise – governments, NGO professionals, as much as Christians along the ‘refugee highway’. Dutch Christians have been thinking hard about serving refugees with integrity when people are traumatised and vulnerable. Here is what one leader sent me.
1. I will open my eyes to reality because I want to be sensitive to the world around me. I see people running away from violence and people using violence to stop them. That disturbs me. Yet I will stand up and help wherever and whenever I see a need that I can handle.
…I will be realistic not naïve; I will neither exaggerate nor belittle the problem.
2. I will open my heart because I believe that God created all people in His image and in His likeness. Unique beings, each of them with his (or her) own story, all of them longing for a meaningful and joyful life. Trusting God, I will not be afraid but be available for people in distress, just like Jesus Christ was.
…My heart will be controlled not by fear but by love, because love casts out fear.
3. I will choose meekness because the meek will inherit the earth. When people choose strong language, rejection, or even hatred towards refugees, I will respond calmly and sensibly.
…I do not believe in hatred, so I do not repay violence for violence and I do not retaliate when reviled.
4. I will pray for those who hate because I believe in the power of prayer. Even when I face people full of hatred towards the West, I will pray they learn to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the source and destiny of all life. I too live by God’s grace every day of my life.
…I seek not to curse but to bless, for God’s Kingdom is established not by might or power but by His Spirit.
5. I will promote justice because it is not my own merit that I live in a free and prosperous country. Aware that God makes His sun shine on everyone, I will protect the rights of my displaced neighbour; promoting the fair and just treatment of every person entering the country.
…I believe, not in the survival of the fittest, but the command of Christ to love our neighbour as ourselves and bear one another’s burdens.
6. I will help because every smile and every small gesture makes a difference to a person in distress. I seek to share what I have received with gratitude. I am prepared to sacrifice part of my wealth when that contributes to the hope of a refugee.
…I do not believe in dependence, but want to give what is needed most – respect and hope for the future; whether in our country or their homeland.
7. I will be patient because many refugees bear internal scars from violence, loss and fear. We rightly request their effort to learn our language and culture and to contribute to society. But I will be patient with them when they need more time, rest and space.
…I believe, not in unreasonable demands, but in mercy and loving care.
8. I will be faithful because it is necessary to support each other in difficult times, even when cultural differences cause misunderstanding. So I will walk with refugees encouraging them to accept their unique place in our society.
…I believe, not in uniformity, but in colourful diversity, which reflects God’s character.
9. I will testify because Jesus Christ alone can save and heal the heart and mind. It is God’s love I will proclaim. My story is like a seed that can be planted, grow and bear fruit in the life of a refugee.
…I do not want to be ashamed of the gospel, realizing it takes courage to speak out.