The images and stories from the Middle East and Europe have been horrific—a dead toddler washing ashore in Greece, 71 bodies being found in a cargo trailer in Austria, and mothers passing their babies to those able to squeeze onto departing trains. More than 4 million refugees have fled Syria since the war began in 2011. The United Nations Agency on Refugees reports almost 1.9 million have journeyed to Turkey; 629,000 to Jordan; and 1.1 million to Lebanon, which has increased its population by one third. In September, Chancellor Angela Merkel anticipated that Germany would assist in processing 800,000 asylum-seekers this year alone. They anticipate becoming home to 500,000 additional refugees each year. These refugees are fleeing oppression, tyranny, and strife. This could very well be the greatest expansion of Islam outside of the Middle East in the history of the world. Some refugees are Christians, but most are Muslims fleeing the oppression of their Muslim brothers.
Refugees need to know that someone cares. Many have left thriving businesses, professional jobs, and lifestyles that would look fairly normal to most reading this article. They left with only what they could carry for hundreds of miles. You’ve probably seen pictures of parents passing babies onto trains or over barbed-wire fences…notice there is no luggage—not even a backpack or a diaper bag. People are desperate—needing shelter, safety, and food for their families.
During September, it became obvious that Christians needed a plan to respond. The receiving European governments are assisting with food and shelter, but accounting for the emotional state of the refugees is outside of their expertise. European governments were eager to provide physical resources but did not have a plan for assisting with emotional and mental health, not to mention spiritual health. Foundational to helping the hurting is a listening ear. The need is for people who have the time and skills to listen. The need is for caring, evangelical Christians to go and be the emotional and mental stability this crisis requires.
The SBC of Virginia has incredible partners around the world. We have hundreds of disaster-trained volunteers and trustworthy partners in the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board, Baptist Global Response, and Canadian Global Response. Another new partner in the equation is Bibel Seminar in Bonn, Germany. Bibel Seminar provides seminary education, in partnership with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, to German pastors and church planters. They will assist the SBC of Virginia in identifying 10 churches in 10 different cities with whom SBCV churches can partner and serve. A renewed relationship with Liberty University will place students through their SEND NOW initiative into German churches.
It is through these partnerships that SBC of Virginia churches will mobilize a response to the refugees, but we need your vote of confidence. Would you give today toward meeting the needs of the refugees? Would you volunteer to be trained? Would you go? We look for all to pray, but we also need a voice of confidence by Christians stepping up to give, train, and go. Would you do so today?
The pictures need a happy ending. That baby passed onto a train needs food, a roof over her head, a diaper bag, and the Gospel. Won’t you be a part of the happy ending?
Watch Journey to Jesus with Muslims – 6 hours
Attend a Refugee Training Event – 4 hours or 4 days
Attend a Ready Church Training Event – 1 day
Take an English as a Foreign Language Class – 1 day
Attend a Baptist Global Response Training Event – 2 days
For more information, go to www.sbcv.org/training.
Sweden—with 230,000 Syrian refugees and immigrants already in place—will be the focus of a 2016 vision trip to Stockholm. Most of the refugees’ physical needs are being met by the government. Christians will work alongside local churches to meet the emotional and spiritual needs. We will follow the lead of the Swedish churches in serving the refugees and immigrants. Pastor Danny Campbell of Wayne Hills Baptist Church (Waynesboro, VA) will lead out in meeting the crisis needs in Sweden. Connect with him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The response in Germany will include church-to-church partnerships, with churches in Virginia sending small groups regularly to encourage, coach, and serve with specific German churches that are engaging refugees. Germany is predicted to receive over 500,000 refugees again in 2016. Teams will be needed weekly throughout the year.
Commonwealth of Virginia
Refugees are coming to Virginia. We don’t know when, but they are coming. Is your church prepared?