#19: Refugee Crisis

Wes Magruder is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park United Methodist Church, serves on the board of Refugee Services of Texas, and is author of Jesus Was A Refugee.  

What is a Refugee?

  • Refugee: A person who has had to flee their country of origin because of the threat of persecution or violence  
  • Internally Displaced: People who have fled their community but remain in their country
  • Immigrant: Anyone who has gone to another country for whatever reason

Twenty One Million and Counting

There are over twenty one million refugees in the world at the moment, which is the biggest number of refugees since World War II.

The Syrian crisis is on everybody’s mind right now, and has been for several years, but the growing, new crisis is in South Sudan, because of famine and the government’s inability to feed its own people. South Sudanese are flocking to Kenya and Uganda.

Refugees are Legal Immigrants

People who come as refugees into the U.S. are coming as legal immigrants. To come into the U.S. as a refugee is a very extensive process.

Because of geographic isolation, refugees cannot just cross a border to get into the U.S. The only way the United States accepts refugees into the country at the moment is through a very extensive process known as the refugee resettlement process, which is handled by the State Department.

Cultural Assimilation

Almost every refugee feels like they’ve been given a remarkable second chance at a life in which they’re confident their children have a real future. So, they feel very strongly about becoming Americans. You can look at the number of refugees who go on to complete the citizenship process as an indicator of this fact. They and do so proudly.

It is possible for some refugees to come to America and not feel like they fit in, often walling themselves off in a sub-community of only similar people. In cases like that, it is often because of a negative response they have received from a community or from certain individuals.

We have to recognize that refugees often come with a great amount of psychological trauma, because they have encountered war and the tragedy of losing loved ones, maybe even seeing loved ones murdered right in front of their eyes. So, they come with trauma, and if they’re not met and accepted and welcomed in a generous way, there can be negative ramifications.

The Unique Role of the Church

The church can offer friendship.  The church can offer a friendship that doesn’t demand that you become like me, but a friendship that says, “I’m going to open myself to get to know you, and I want to accept you on your terms, so tell me about yourselves. Tell me your story, and and then I’ll tell you my story.”

Social Work or Evangelism

We must focus on the whole gospel for the whole self, because beyond this gospel urgency there’s also just this humanitarian urgency.



REFUGEE SERVICES OF TEXAS: https://www.rstx.org



Photo by brx0 / CC BY

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