In recent years refugee issues have dramatically increased. Whether it is the surge of refugees trying to get into Europe, the flow of refugees from some of the war zones of the Middle East, the Rohingyas fleeing from Myanmar into Bangladesh or Australia’s issues with blocking refugees and putting boat people into off-shore camps, refugees are in the news.
Every year 20 June is the World Refugee Day. In recognition of this the World Evangelical Alliance invites churches to observe World Refugee Sunday on either the Sunday before and after June 20th. This year that means that World Refugee Sunday falls on June 16th or June 23th.
“Headlines about refugees may at times be short-lived in today’s fast-paced news media, but the reality of displacement persists and affects countless people in every region of the world,” said Bishop Efraim Tendero, Secretary General of the WEA. “The situation may feel overwhelming, but if local churches take time to pray, to reflect on God’s perspective on refugees and displaced people, and then reach out to those in their surroundings who may have been forced to flee, they can make a great difference in people’s lives. World Refugee Sunday provides an ideal opportunity for your local church to get involved!”
A website with good resources on refugee issues for churches is the Refugee Highway Partnership. They say “68.5 million is simply a number. But the world’s 68.5 million precious men, women and children forcibly displaced by war, violence and persecution can tell untold numbers of stories of personal and family pain and suffering, resilience and courage, hospitality and kindness, while many also experienced some of the worst inhumanities imaginable. We hope that the resources will help churches to lament and celebrate together and express their solidarity with displaced people in prayer and action.”
World Refugee Sunday is an opportunity for local churches, small groups and others to demonstrate their common concern for the welfare and protection of the world’s forcibly displaced people. WEA partners and the Refugee Highway Partnership have developed the resources on this site to help you promote and observe this important day. This year the theme is based on the words of Jesus “I was a stranger and you welcomed me in” (Matthew 25:35).
On one of these World Refugee Sundays would your church consider including something in your service to highlight the challenges faced by refugees; and what it means to welcome the stranger? There is a church resource book with sermon ideas, prayer and discussion starters, and ideas for activities which is available to download here.
They encourage us to use the #WorldRefugeeSunday and #RefugeeHighway tags to share what you are doing, in order to encourage and inspire others to join in.
- Refugees as Survivors New Zealand is a good site for information on refugee issues in New Zealand, with a good page of suggestions about how to get involved
- For information on helping with settlement of refugees in New Zealand visit the New Zealand Red Cross website and look at their section on Refugee Services
- Tearfund has an appeal for the Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
In conjunction with World Refugee Day, CWS runs Operation Refugee fundraising activities