Pray with us this week

Lament

• Currently it is estimated that there are over 40,000 immigrants being held in ICE and CBP detention facilities around the country. Current number of children separated from parents are difficult to determine (NY Times)

• There are reports of Mexican Asylum seekers being returned to Mexico with a court hearing. This week alone there were 6 families denied entrance at the Nogales border. (Kino Border Initiative)

Requests and Thanksgiving- ... by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God... (Phil. 4)

• There is a growing number of Christians praying for displaced people, and people globally responding with compassion.

• The administration issued a proclamation Friday evening that they will begin denying immigration applications to any applicants unable to prove they can obtain health insurance within 30 days of arrival in the US. Pray for legal steps to block this attempt to restrict immigration, especially among the poor. (CBS News)

• There are currently 4.5 million internally displace people in the Dem. Rep. of Congo, with another 800,000 refugees in other countries. Fighting there continues, and has recently intensified. Please pray for our neighbors here in Rochester affected by this.

• That the government will issue Temporary Protective Status for Venezuelans currently in the US.

Praise

• For the great work being done at Casa del Migrante in Juarez, Mexico and at Annunciation House in El Paso Texas. Many followers of Jesus coming from places like Honduras and El Salvador are being loved and welcomed, with both immigrants and Americans being deeply encouraged in their faith (various reports).

The View from the Border

If you follow our Facebook page you know that I spent a week recently volunteering near our border with Mexico at a shelter for asylum seekers from the south. Here are a few thoughts and reflections.

  1. The ‘Crisis’ is real and actual: since the information we have on this situation is only through the media, I’m sure that most of us are unsure as to what to believe. People on both sides of the political fight over immigration, however, agree that we truly are experiencing a crisis. The people I saw go through this shelter looked exhausted and weary, a few looked under-nourished. What moves it to a crisis level, however, is the immensity and every-day-ness of the situation. Daily, asylum seekers that had been released from ICE and CBP detention facilities were dropped off at the shelter. Some days as few as 10. Our team was there for a day when 65 people were dropped off. Earlier in the year they were having days of over 100 people arriving. The sheer volume of people crossing the border is overwhelming.

  2. When we discuss the Border Crisis we’re talking about people: As ICE and CBP dropped people off, the first thing that stands out is that they are primarily young mothers with young children, families. I must confess that I came back from this situation angry. I’m angry that politicians refer to the people begging for safety in our countries as ‘rapists’, ‘bad hombres’, drug dealers and human traffickers. I am sure that there are some of those people are trying to cross, but the overwhelming number of those seeking asylum are innocent people fleeing dangerous situations that we would run from as well. We must stop using de-humanizing and criminalizing terminology for this crisis!

  3. There is no easy solution, but punishing those knocking on our doors as a way of deterring others from coming is truly not the answer: We as a country are causing pain in those who are incredibly vulnerable at this time. Our main focus right now at the border is to allow as few people in as possible, and making it difficult for those we do allow in-hopefully so that we can deport them. As a follower of Jesus, I simply can’t agree with this, and am grieved that this is happening in my country. Families are coming to us broken, and we’re doing all we can to try to convince them that they’re not welcome and should go back to what they were fleeing from.

  4. Many of those coming across our border are our brothers and sisters in Christ: I saw small groups praying together, individuals and families stopping to pray with volunteers before they boarded buses to leave, people of prayer and deep faith. We must take this into account as we consider and discuss this topic.

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    You and I could be tempted to say “We can’t solve the world’s problems" or “This isn’t our problem”, or look for simple solutions like “Send them all back and have them apply legally”-or some other form of those viewpoints.

    The reality of what I saw, however, is much more complicated, and can’t be solved with simple slogans or reactions. We, as followers of Christ, must be asking God for wisdom, “who gives generously to all without finding fault” (James 1:5). Only then will we respond to this situation with views and responses that are “full of mercy and good fruit” (James 3: 17).

    Oh, Father, that your wisdom would pour down on us and our leaders, and that you would empower those who are so generously serving those coming to our border. We beg you.

Our Mission: Why Refuge Rochester?

If you’ve been tracking with Refuge Rochester I hope you understand that we exist to help churches in Rochester embrace refugees and immigrants as a way of welcoming Jesus (Matt. 25: 35). We aim to educate evangelical Christians towards a Biblical perspective on refugees and immigration.

This Biblical perspective is incredibly important and a huge personal challenge for each of us to develop internally. The task of then passing that perspective on to those around us?!? Oh my.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, our views of refugees and immigrants is being shaped daily-as are those of our family members and friends. The constant coverage of these issues in the news media IS shaping our minds. If we’re not carefully immersing ourselves in the scriptures we will develop perspectives on this issue that are not in agreement with God’s perspective, and we will most likely pass those perspectives on to those around us.

Will you join us in this journey by beginning to immerse yourself in the Scriptures with us? God has something to teach us from our dear neighbors from far-away places, and we don’t want to miss out.

If you’d like to begin immersing yourself in scripture related to God’s perspective on refugees, you can check out our resource page here:

If you want to go even deeper, we highly recommend this excellent and very readable book by Karen Gonzelez:

God bless you as you welcome Him to our community by welcoming the stranger!

The Refuge Rochester blog begins

The country of Nepal has been ‘temporary’ home for the roughly 60,000 refugees who fled the country of Bhutan in the early 1990’s. Most of those who were displaced had been living in the southern part of Bhutan for generations, but were forced to flee due to political and religious persecution from the majority people group in that country. Those that fled the country remained in refugee camps where their numbers grew to roughly 110,000. In 2007 the UN began to resettle the Bhutanese, and today roughly 7000 refugees remain in Nepal, almost 30 years later!

I had the privilege of traveling to Nepal at the end of May in order to take part in the dedication of a new church building, and while there went to visit one of the remaining refugee camps. This trip began to build in me a desire to develop more of my own view of the global refugee crisis, how it relates to my Christianity as well as what God could be calling us to as His people in Rochester, New York.

I hope you’ll join us at Refuge Rochester as we seek to embrace and welcome the refugees and immigrants that God is bringing to our city. I hope you’ll follow our blog as we record some of the process that He is leading us through as we grow in this ministry.