welcoming the stranger

try to imagine

being on the run, barely escaping a violent ruler with your life. In your hurry to escape, you are forced to leave behind life as you know it. Leaving behind family, friends, relationships and any sense of normalcy, you now have to make your way hundreds of miles across treacherous terrain in order to reach the border that hopefully promises safety. Likely, you join a caravan of immigrants in order to protect yourself on the dangerous journey from looters, thieves and robbers. Food and water are scarce, and it is nearly impossible to escape the natural elements because there is no shelter. As you reach your destination, the reality sets in that you have to start all over. You are living the life of a refugee.

Escaping oppression and violence is not new to this world:
Moses was a refugee
David was a refugee.
Elijah was a refuge 
Even Jesus was a refugee.

Today we join with other churches across the country to observe National Refugee Sunday. The issue of refugees – and how to best address this worldwide crisis – has become very politicized. This is a complex issue, one in which Christ followers hold varying viewpoints about political solutions.  We aren’t making a political statement today. Instead, we want to talk about what scripture says about caring for our neighbors and those who are oppressed and vulnerable.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me, 
I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  
Matthew 25:35-36

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.
Deuteronomy 10:18-19

Since the beginning of this conflict in 2011, more than 11 million people have been forced from their homes; 4.8 million are refugees who have fled to other countries due to violence and immediate dangers.  More than half of these refugees are children. Globally, one out of every 122 people is now either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum

We believe you care about the distress the people of Syria are experiencing. We also think you may be overwhelmed with what do…or wondering if there is any way you can really help.

Here are three places to start:

1. Lake Forest, through our denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church is supporting Syrian Refugee Relief Efforts through a crisis fund. If you'd like to know more about EPC efforts and how to give directly to the fund, check this out.  EPC crisis giving

2. Contact our missio Dei Team Leader Andy Muhich, amuhich@lakeforest.org
Globally, LFC and our denomination partner with missionaries on the ground in the Middle East and Europe who are in the trenches of refugee camps and helping refugees get established. because they are already involved, they can direct our prayers and support. 
Locally, in LKN and Charlotte, there are many refugee and foreign people, living on the margin in our society. This is an area of growth for LFC; at present we aren't involved in any efforts to serve the needs of refugees who quite literally are our neighbors.  If you are interested in being a leader within our own tribe to help us discover our church’s role and help us live out this role in God’s story, Andy would love to talk with you.

3. and ultimately, when you see images or hear news about the refugee situation, pray.  
Let’s do that together now…

Psalm 46:9 declares that You “make wars cease to the ends of the earth.” Help those in conflict with one another to come to a peaceful solution, so that civilians may resume their daily lives.
  Lord, we trust in You.

Come to the aid of families who have fled to safety. Guide them to places where they can find help and rest. Provide host communities with the resources to assist families arriving on their doorstep.
  Lord, we trust in You.

Have mercy on those who have no warm place to stay. Provide desperate families with ample resources to withstand the weather. Infuse aid organizations with extra supplies to meet their variety of needs.
  Lord, we trust in You.

We lift to You our brothers and sisters in Christ living in this region. Strengthen them with power through Your Holy Spirit to be a light in this darkness. Empower to be Your hands and feet to the many suffering around them. Give them the peace of Your Presence.
   Lord, we trust in You

Gracious Lord,
Awaken us to the needs of the vulnerable. Help us not grow weary in doing what is right and good in Your eyes. Remind us to engage on the behalf of the most helpless of these as we would if it were our own families. Give us the courage to be generous advocates for peace in this world.
 Lord we trust in You


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