Become a monthly supporter to advance gospel-centered resources

×

A Word of Hope for the Refugee

Our family has a small Christmas Bible we read regularly during Advent. My children are fascinated that on the pages describing the birth of Jesus, Mary is surrounded by barn animals. They point to the animals, identifying them by name and making animal sounds.

I clarify that this is not a normal birthing situation, and sometimes it opens the door for us to talk about the hardships Mary and Joseph endured. Not only were they unable to find a warm and hospitable place to give birth, but shortly thereafter, this young family had to flee persecution and find safety elsewhere. The temporary shelter Mary and Joseph found at the inn, while cold and uninviting, was actually a short respite before they were forced to flee to Egypt as refugees.

The warm and cozy feelings we often associate with the Christmas season belie the cold, harsh, and unwelcoming environment in which Jesus Christ was born.

The warm and cozy feelings we often associate with the Christmas season belie the cold, harsh, and unwelcoming environment in which Jesus Christ was born.

The journey that Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus took is not altogether unfamiliar to the millions worldwide who are forcibly displaced from their homes every year––40 percent of them children. We do not hope in Christ abolishing all the conflict and injustice that force people to flee their homes, but in the knowledge that he came in the midst of suffering himself.

God’s incarnate Son was both a downwardly mobile migrant––he left the realms of heaven and pitched his tent among men (John 1:14)––and a refugee fleeing a genocidal edict (Matt. 2:13). He intimately knows what it feels like to be a stranger in a foreign land. He identifies so much with strangers that when we welcome them, we are welcoming him (Matt. 25:31–46). Elsewhere, we learn we could even be entertaining angels unaware when we enter into relationships with strangers (Heb. 13:2).

The many churches in the United States and around the world who are on the front lines of welcoming refugees are well aware of these deep blessings. By loving our immigrant neighbors, we understand more fully a God who works through every culture and circumstance to bring people to know himself. We are able to both carry out the Great Commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39), and fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19), at the same time.

And we may receive significant encouragement from our refugee neighbors, some of whom are vibrant believers in the faith.

We do not hope in Christ abolishing all the conflict and injustice that force people to flee their homes, but in the knowledge that he came in the midst of suffering himself.

Every Christian is led by a Middle Eastern refugee who faced the daunting pressures of exclusion and insecurity and yet carried forth his duty to obey his Father and love his people. Jesus’s birth gives us hope that despite the challenging circumstances we face personally or societally, we can always find healing––and a home––in him.

Hope can indeed be found in the most unexpected of places—after all, it took the form of a fragile child in a manger––and it keeps our hearts open to the possibilities of God working in and through all things. Sorrow and joy are intermingled markers along a refugee’s journey, but the Christmas story is a reminder that our challenging circumstances don’t have the final word. Jesus does.

LOAD MORE
Loading