One of the phrases we commonly repeat throughout IAFR is that refugees are “more than just people in need.” Yes, they have specific physical, emotional and spiritual needs- as we all do- which are wonderful opportunities to share life together. However, they also bring something beautiful: themselves, with life experiences, skills and perspectives which enrich our relationships and our world. They often reflect resilience, perseverance, joy and resourcefulness in ways we would otherwise miss.
A new film opening in theaters this weekend (Friday, 25 August) shares a great example of the contribution refugees can bring. All Saints tells the powerful true story of a group of Karen refugees from Myanmar and a shrinking congregation in Smyrna, Tennessee, discovering community together. As the church struggles to keep its doors open, the refugees bring new life to the church in some unexpected ways.
The movie is good precisely because it doesn’t create a “hero” in the story; instead, it reveals the challenges and beauty when flawed, broken people learn to walk through the messiness of life together. It’s a compassionate, engaging and occasionally funny movie that shows a side of the refugee conversation which is often missed. That is the real power of this film. It reminds us that people, even in the vulnerable position of refugees, can reflect hope into our lives.
If you have time this week, go see All Saints. Take the kids before school starts back up, or invite a group of friends to join you. Then talk about it together. Challenge each other to consider how everyone, including refugees and imperfect church people, brings life to our story!