In a world of refugees….

Colleen Elisabeth Chao is an editor and author. She enjoys dark-dark chocolate, side-splitting laughter, and half-read books piled bedside. She makes her home near Boise, Idaho, with her husband Eddie, their son Jeremy, and Willow the dog. 




In a world of refugees….

In a world of refugees….

In a world of refugees….

Today I sat with a friend from Romania whose family has suffered upheaval and persecution as far back as she can remember. Her heritage is heroic. Her Jewish grandmother fled to Romania to escape the Germans. Her German grandfather escaped a Siberian concentration camp and endured an arduous 14-month journey home. Her Romanian aunt and uncle—Christians under Communist rule—fled to the United States for religious freedom.

Listening to my friend’s stories, passed down from generation to generation, reminded me that I am incurably American in my way of thinking. Security and comfort, that is what we know and prize here. How can I even begin to imagine a world where I must run for my life or tyrants will take it from me?

I don’t get this refugee reality at all. 

I cringe to admit that sometimes the nonstop needs in my own little corner of this world can overwhelm me, and it’s hard to find time to cultivate compassion for people I may never meet. If I can’t keep up with the people and tasks within arm’s reach, how can I ever care for those a world away?

It’s one of the reasons why I need to “abide in Christ”—so I have His heart for both my reality here in California and realities worldwide. I need Him to teach me what He wants me to do with the time and resources He gives me each day. When to give myself to what is right in front of me—and when to educate myself on what’s going on in the larger world.

When to make time for mercy that reaches across the miles.

Truth is, my heart gets bigger when I remember that I serve the God of nations. He is not a 21st Century American God. And I’m a better friend, neighbor, wife, and mom when my heart beats beyond this country’s borders. My son especially needs to see me pursuing the physically and spiritually impoverished. He needs me to live in the uncomfortable question, “How can we give and sacrifice to love suffering peoples for Christ?”

History proves that a refugee crisis is nothing new, and it guarantees we will always have refugees among us. So what will we, the Body of Christ, do to care for them?

I’m not saying I’ve got this figured out. Far from it. But God’s working on me, and I love Him for it.

So here’s a small way I’m attempting to enlarge my heart this month. I’m having my son join me in:

  1. Collecting coins and bills in a jar, the sum of which we’ll send to Samaritan’s Purse in March. Their relief efforts are some of the best on this planet.
  2. Watching videos like this one together. And this one.
  3. Learning more about the refugees traumatized by ISIS, war, and other forms of persecution.
  4. Praying for God to bring the gospel and physical relief to refugees around the globe. (This article!)

Chances are, our impact will be infintesimally small. (That’s okay: impact is the Lord’s work, not mine.) But perhaps the simple acts of dropping coins in a jar, of praying while I wash dishes, of talking to my son about people groups like the Yazidi—maybe these are the small faithfulnesses that will grow my love large.

In a world shouting loud its opinions of this crisis, would you consider joining us in your own small, quiet way? What if we were all praying and giving as we went about our days’ work, asking God to give us His heart for these who have lost so much—and who need Him so desperately?

Photo credit: Vadim Ghirda.