World Refugee Day, June 20, has arrived without much fanfare or preparation. It isn’t holiday; rather, it is a day to recognize the plight of people who are forced from their homes and country due to a fear of persecution or death. Refugees are like you and me until they are confronted with the terrifying choice to flee and live or stay and be persecuted, or worse, killed.
The New Testament urges us to welcome the stranger – someone not of our midst who is forced to travel in front of us. Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees as they fled Herod’s wrath and went into Egypt. Refugees need welcoming – a safe welcome back home if the authorities will allow it; a generous welcome in their country of exile if the foreign government will not see them as a threat; and in another country, an often unfamiliar and strange country, if again the government will grant them the refugee visa to travel far and enter a new and permanent home.