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6 1/2 minutes for 65.6 million people

It is World Refugee Day. Would you set aside 6 ½ minutes to pray for the 65.6 million forcibly displaced men, women and children in the world? If you don't know where to start, perhaps the following prayer will be helpful.

A Prayer on World Refugee Day

Father in heaven, we pray for the tens of millions of men, women and children in our world today who have been uprooted by persecution, war and violence.

We pray for the children who make up over half of the global refugee population. We especially pray for unaccompanied minors and the fatherless. They are among the most vulnerable people in the world. Reveal yourself to them as their loving Father, their Protector and their Provider. As the Good Shepherd, go before them and lead them on their journey. Hear their cries and rescue them.

We pray for the displaced women in our world – grandmothers, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters. We pray especially for single women and single mothers among them. You know that they are unprotected and face many dangers and challenges. Protect them from those who would try and take advantage of them. Surround them with supportive community. Renew their strength and hope today. Hear their cries and rescue them.

We pray for uprooted men – grandfathers, fathers, husbands, brothers, sons. Their fellow refugees often rely on them for leadership, help and protection. Grant them wisdom. Renew their strength and hope today. Reveal yourself to them as the Good Shepherd and faithful Provider who has walked with many displaced people throughout history. Hear their cries and rescue them.

We pray for the refugee church – our brothers and sisters. Remind them today that they are in the company of many of your children who were forcibly displaced in years past. Remind them today that you, yourself, were forcibly displaced along with your family shortly after your birth. May they know your faithful presence with them. Renew their faith. May they extend supportive community to their fellow refugees. Hear their cries and rescue them.

We pray for refugee-producing countries in our world – especially those generating the largest number of forcibly displaced people: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, D.R. Congo, Central African Republic, Myanmar, Eritrea, and Burundi. We pray for peace and justice to take root. We pray for the people living in these troubled nations. Hear their cries and rescue them.

We pray for the nations providing refuge to people – especially those hosting the largest number of refugees: Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Uganda, Ethiopia, Jordan, Germany, D.R. Congo and Kenya. May your blessing be upon these nations as they provide safety and refuge to desperate people. Increase their capacity to care for the refugees within their borders. Bless them with political, economic, and social stability.

Father, we pray as did the psalmist thousands of years ago:

Some are wandering in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they can settle. They are hungry and thirsty, and their lives are ebbing away. They are crying out in their trouble, O Lord. Please deliver them from their distress. Lead them by a straight way to a city where they can settle. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Psalm 107:4-9

It is in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that we bring our prayer before you.

Amen.

Posted by Tom Albinson

Minimizing Fear

I stared blankly at my friend’s question: “How can we eliminate the risks from immigration and refugees?”  It politely captured what I’ve heard and sensed from so many, especially within the church.  In the absence of a cohesive biblical or theological argument against welcoming forcibly displaced people, fear is driving the debate.  Fear of physical harm; of economic loss; of cultural change. Fear of an uncertain future.

Maybe it’s the wrong question. We can’t completely eliminate risk from welcoming and loving people any more than we can eliminate risk from driving to the store or sitting in a school classroom. Perhaps the real question is how we can recognize the risks and choose to live courageously in spite of them?  What would that look like?

It would probably include learning and understanding the facts.  How many people have fled instability to seek peaceful safety? How has the refugee vetting process worked to maximize security?  How have refugees impacted local economies by starting businesses, spending hard earned dollars, even working to repay the loans for their own resettlement costs?  Did you know that the airfare to resettle a refugee is a loan which must be repaid?  The more we understand, the less scary things become.  (The IAFR toolbox has many educational resources!)

A huge step in reducing the fear is to meet a refugee.  Hear their story.  Share a cup of tea.  Or simply introduce yourself.  We don’t just have 21.3 million refugees in the world; there are 21.3 million people with stories and names traveling the refugee highway. Each time we share life together, it chips away at the walls. When we choose to love someone, we begin to cast fear aside.

Ultimately, followers of Jesus have the best responses to fear. Pray for courage. Grapple with God’s inverted economy. Remember that Yahweh never promised to be safe. Live now in the light of eternity.  Love others as Jesus loves us. As we follow Jesus’s example of embracing us when we were outsiders, I believe the risk of welcoming others will become much more acceptable.

-posted by Rachel Uthmann

Each year, the UNHCR publishes the Global Trends ReportThis vital document provides data and statistics* that help give context to the story of forced displacement.  Check out the complete report for the bigger picture!  Meanwhile, here are a few key observations:

1) 2016 was a relatively good year for refugees returning home: 552,000 (approximately 2.5% of the refugee population) were able to do so.  This is a 250% increase from 2015!

2) It was also a good year for refugee resettlement. 189,300 refugees (0.84%) were resettled to new countries. The number was hovering below 1/2 of 1%. 

3) Unfortunately, the overall numbers of Forcibly Displaced People increased by 300,000 to a global total of 65.6 million displaced people.

4) 2,800 people are newly displaced every day. That's 20 people every minute.

5) 51% of the refugee population is under 18 year old, compared to the total world population of 31%.

Of course, these are numbers and statistics.  Each number represents a person, a name, a story.  Thank you for being a champion for hope and recovery for the people behind the numbers!

*Note: The Global Trends Report is the most up-to-date official report, and reflects the data gathered from the most recent calendar year; this edition reports the data for 2016.

-Observations by Tom Albinson, posted by Tim Uthmann

Thanks to Tyndale House Foundation!

Photo: Asylum seeker from Myanmar

Many thanks to Tyndale House Foundation for awarding IAFR a $10,000 grant award to our Jonathan House Project! It is a joy and privilege to partner with them as we help asylum seekers survive and recover from displacement by providing shelter and extending supportive community to them here in the Twin Cities (Minnesota).

In addition to this generous grant, 30 individuals have donated a total of $8,000 towards the initial launch of Jonathan House! We are encouraged as local churches and individuals have embraced this vision and are actively seeking ways to get involved! IAFR has been training and consulting with them as they figure out their part in this movement to seek the welfare of asylum-seekers here.

Prayer Requests

Please pray with us as we are currently working to identify and secure suitable housing options for asylum seekers here. We also welcome your prayers for God to provide the remaining funding we need to cover Jonathan House expenses for the first 18 months ($27,000).

We are eager to see how God will use this ministry in the lives both of asylum seekers and of those of us who partner with them.

-Posted by Sarah Miller

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