How Global Workers Are Dealing with the Refugee Crisis and Other Difficult Situations
An immense challenge stands before the German church. Germany has a population of 80.62 million. With over a million refugees, nearly one out of every 80 people is a refugee! This statistic will change the face of the country forever. We will all be affected in some form or another. We have a choice to make. Will we see refugees as a problem? A crisis? Or is this the church’s opportunity to love her neighbors and extend the message of the gospel to them, seeing them as part of the fulfilment of God’s plan for this earth?
Much fear surrounds the issue of refugees in Germany and in the West. Will refugees bring terrorism with them? Will they destroy the German culture or other host cultures? Will they integrate?
The answer to these questions is not easy to find. However, in God’s Kingdom, fear is never to be the driving force. The driving force is the power of the gospel.
What about the religious fanatics? Are we forgetting that religious fanaticism has never been a problem for God? The Apostle Paul, the great missionary to the Gentiles, formerly known as Saul, had himself been a religious fanatic. The believers who first heard the news about Saul’s conversion were justifiably quite suspicious and fearful. God sometimes handpicks some of His greatest enemies to use them as His most powerful servants. In fact, we find this very same Paul preaching the following at the Areopagus:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us (Acts 17:24–27 ESV).
Paul believed that God is the maker of all nations and the mover of peoples. God is sovereign over history and appoints boundaries and dwelling places for men. There is no denying that our world is in flux and that God is moving people en masse. One might ask for what purpose? The answer is clear, according to Paul: God moves people so they may find Him!
From Curse to Blessing
God is using this very difficult situation to bring people to Himself! We are already hearing testimonies of men, women, and children finding the Lord Jesus after being disillusioned with their religion. Some have seen the horrors of ISIS and are turning their backs on their religious upbringing when they experience the love of Christ through Christians at refugee camps. Some are having revelations of Jesus in their dreams. Others are eager to study what the Bible has to say.
All of our little church-planting projects are asking similar questions. What will this mean for our churches? How do we convince our people that we have a calling and an opportunity here? Does it mean every church plant needs to have refugees as a target group? How do we get to know and reach refugees with God’s love? What is it that the church can offer specifically that the government cannot? How can we deal with the massive logistical challenges such as language barriers, funding, or helping them with their multi-faceted needs? What about the German friends to whom we also want to be faithful? Can we adapt? Redouble our prayer efforts? Set aside other agendas? We are hearing that time is a key factor in reaching refugees. Are we willing to sacrifice large amounts of time to build new relationships?
For you, in your part of the world, it may not be the refugee crisis that is your challenge. Maybe it is a different target group, or a crisis particular to your region. We believe that God is sovereign and sometimes uses areas of great pain and suffering for His redemptive purposes. Where is God calling you to see the difficulties as opportunities to minister to and bless others?
God has moved a mass of people to live within our borders. This is our new reality. We can either stand paralyzed with fear on the shore of disbelief and incredulity, or we can hop on the tidal wave God has created and see how far it will carry us! We can either cower and refuse to face this reality, or we can move out boldly, confident that our sovereign Lord has prepared these times, His sheep, and the good works we are to walk in. He is about to bring in a new harvest of Christ-followers who will have the ability to turn this world on its head.
Is it scary? Yes! Will it cost us? Yes! Do we feel like it is an impossible task? Yes! Consequently, we must remind ourselves that God loves to:
- move in impossible situations,
- open up Red Seas and barren wombs,
- feed thousands with just a few loaves and fish
- make God’s enemies into His closest friends as far as the curse is found.
He is the God of all impossibilities so that He might get all the glory!
Question to consider: Where is God calling you to see the difficulties as opportunities to minister to and bless others?