Today’s refugee crisis has engulfed public policy and politics in countries around the world, deeply dividing communities. With increased migration many fear terrorism, crime and a dilution of their perceived national identity, while others embrace it as an inevitable reality of the globalized world in which we live. But what does the Bible have to say about migration and displacement and how refugees, migrants, and the stateless should be treated?
Strangers in the Kingdom asks why God cares for the displaced, presenting biblical, theological, and missiological foundations for ministries to those who have been uprooted from their homes and all that is familiar. Rupen Das and Brent Hamoud apply their experience and expertise to provide timely answers that the Christian community is waiting to hear. Addressing the humanitarian and legal needs of the displaced is the starting point, but relief, repatriation, and resettlement programs need to help the stranger find a place to belong, a place to call home.
About the Authors
Rupen Das has extensive global experience in relief and development and has worked with several organizations, including World Vision. He works for the Canadian Bible Society as their National Director. Previously he was Research Professor of Social Justice, Compassion and Development at Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto, Canada, as well as on the faculty of the International Baptist Theological Study Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Brent Hamoud lives with his family in Beirut, Lebanon, where he is a Projects Manager with Kids Alive International, a faith-based organization working with at-risk children. His work includes ministry to refugee, migrant, and stateless children and youth. He has a Master of Religion in Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Beirut, Lebanon.
As it is possible to read in newspapers and on various web portals, the number of refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina is rising.
The refugees currently in Bosnia are casualties of the local social and political context. They are facing the fear of not knowing what’s going to happen with them, often with no or limited access to the basic hygiene, food and water.
International organizations are limited in their work as their actions often can be interpreted as a political agenda. That is unacceptable, since they have the mandate to help refugees. It is necessary to approach this vulnerable group carefully and find the best way to help them go through this situation. With the local elections in sight, the campaigns are using refugees as play-toys and leverage for political power.
In order to help the refugees in this situation after consulting with analysts, politicians, and representatives of international organizations, we have been advised to get involved independently. With that in mind, we have established a new organization under the name ‘Hands of Hope Bosnia and Herzegovin’.
Hands of Hope is a sister organization of Croatian Baptist Aid which provides training to local churches and NGOs. Hands of Hope will be officially registered in the coming days. Through this organization we want to neutrally and objectively provide help to refugees, and help the government see what is important and how they can help. At the same time we want to offer local churches and NGOs the opportunity to be actively and constructively involved in this work.
This situation is way above our means, but we believe that together with your prayers and active involvement, we can help the 3000 people currently in Bosnia.
If you would like to send a team to help, please write to Elvis Dzafic at: [email protected]
Visit the website of Croatian Baptist Aid
On June 8, in Sarajevo the Refugee Response Cluster Group had its second meeting. Representatives of local Protestant churches and faith-based NGOs discussed the current situation. Actions point has been drown. An important suggestion was drafting a document that will present the future joint actions of the RRCG to the public and government institutions. The document will also suggest ways in which the Bosnian government can formally cooperate with Protestant churches and NGOs, in the refugee work, but also other areas such as community development.
Humanitarian profile – the most vulnerable group is the refugees located in abandoned buildings and on the streets, who don’t have access to water, food clothes and adequate hygiene. They are prone to illnesses and the consequence is a higher mortality rate, especially during winter. Their relocation and movement is also made more dangerous by various unmarked minefields around Bosnia. Due to the limited capacity of state asylum centers, refugees are forced to find accommodation elsewhere, so they are spreading around in groups, making it difficult to provide needed assistance. Due to the bad economic situation in Bosnia, there is great danger of smuggling and taking advantage of refugees.
WASH and nutrition – Refugees do not have access to clean water in places they are habituating. Outside of the asylum center, which is able to accommodate only a limited number of people, there isn’t many options for refugees, so they resort to using café restrooms and public restrooms. Refugees don’t have access to proper sanitation. In asylum centers, refugees are provided with medical care and nutritive foods, but outside of those centers there is no assistance provided for most of the refugees. NGOs are providing food for those outside of asylum centers, but their capacities are limited, and they can only provide certain types of foods.
The number of illegal crossings into the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina from January 1st until April 15th is 2240 citizens from countries of high migration risk.
The number of prevented crossings on the borders between B&H and Serbia is 730 persons. Places of crossings into the B&H territory according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the largest number of illegal crossings is in the area of Trebinje, Višegrad, Zvornik, Bratunac, Gacka, Velika Kladuša, Bijeljina and Bihać. A smaller number has been detected around Brčko, Foča, Posušje and Čapljina.
Situation in Sarajevo
The number of migrants in Sarajevo since January 1st until May18th is somewhere between 300-500, mostly consisting of persons returned there due to failed attempts to cross into western European countries and persons crossing from Serbia and Montenegro.
Structure of the migrant population
The migrant population in B&H consists mostly of Syrians, Pakistanis, Libyans,Eritreans , Moroccans, Turks, Ukrainians.
FOR MORE INFORMATION READ:
- Bosnia & Herzegovina Refugee Crisis Appeal
- Hands of Hope Sarajevo
- new article on migration and refugee situation in Bosnia: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-bosnia/bosnia-struggles-to-cope-with-arrival-of-thousands-of-migrants-idUSKCN1IG1LS
Refugee Days in June 2018
People all over Europe are called to focus on those people that are less privileged. The World Refugee Sunday (17 / 24. June) and the World Refugee Day (June 20th) will focus on young refugees that had no choice and had to leave their parents way too early. Join the initiative to support this vulnerable group.
Who would send his only sixteen year old son alone halfway around the world? In the past three years, parents have been forced to do so. In the year 2017 over 11 million teenagers1 were on their way alone worldwide, as they had either lost their parents on the journey or fled without their parents. These young children and youngsters need help in settling in a new country and a new culture. A process that needs time and energy. We invite you to show your sympathy and solidarity especially during the Refugee Days 2018.
APPsolutely simple – Integrate Refugees with three mouse clicks
Shopping on your own. Making new friends in the sports club. Finding the correct agency. Joining a language course. Going swimming. Finding a free Wi-Fi hotspot. All these things help young refugees to settle in Europe and to feel comfortable and welcomed. They are first steps to integration and meeting locals.
The Love Europe Refugee App supports this process. Add your events where you would like to welcome refugees easily into the guide in the app. Just download the app, click the + button in the Locations or Events section, and fill out your info and submit it. Also use the app to find existing local initiatives if you want to join in.
More info and free download (Android & iOS): www.love-europe.org/download
Become a partner
Become part of the growing network where refugees are welcomed all over Europe. Join us as the over 600 other small and big public and private initiatives in Europe that are already registered in the app.
Help us to keep this app free of charge for refugees with a smaller or bigger donation as a private donor or in our partner program: www.love-europe.org
20th June is World Refugee Day, an annual opportunity to highlight refugee issues. The 2 Sundays before and after this day are World Refugee Sundays. So, for 2018, these are 17th and 24th June.
Churches, NGOs, projects, individuals all choose to mark these Sundays in different ways. The World Evangelical Alliance hopes we will use the hashtags #WorldRefugeeSunday and #RefugeeHighway to share what they are doing in order to encourage and inspire others. You are most welcome to post resources, news and pictures on the Refugee Campaign Facebook page and we would welcome news to put in a future newsletter.
The European Evangelical Alliance is not in the habit of getting involved in film projects. But it made an exception for “The Peace Between”, a short documentary, giving a glimpse of 3 genuine friendships between a European and a displaced person. We knew that it could powerfully open up non-political, honest and respectful discussion about how we all feel about foreigners moving into our neighbourhoods. This kind of dialogue space is desperately needed among Christians and among broader society.
So EEA embarked on a big collaborative effort to help the film be completed and to create discussion, church service and prayer materials to go with it. We are hugely grateful for all who have given their creative talents, time and money and now we pray that many churches will choose to open up space for people to “meet” a displaced person through viewing the film. Possibly the week around World Refugee Day (17-24 June) might be a perfect opportunity.
We are immensely encouraged by the feedback we have received so far. Here is just one comment.
“I really think the film will help us to understand how good relationships can change bad habits and wrong expectations of refugees. This film gives me many good ideas and calls me into action,” wrote Vitaly Vlasenko, of both the Russian and European Evangelical Alliances.
“I wanted to be part of this film because I would like to help churches and Christian believers to find real, good and balanced answers to this complex and difficult situation. Most of the people who I am connected to have never met any refugee or migrant. Starting from this point of view, I think that it is true of many people in churches as well. Because they don’t have any personal experience, they receive information from different media. I find that the media is biased (with rare exceptions). People are watching, listening and reading mainly that kind of media where the news is interpreted according to their worldview and political beliefs. The propaganda from both side is very determined and very shortsighted, overly simplified and they use just simple political messages. I saw a lot of arguing from both side but I rarely had experience when I heard a really balanced views (It is true worldwide include Europe and Hungary as well.). Moreover, I do not want to get into the political or economic aspects of this issue. I would like to encourage God’s people to find what is our/their responsibility and our/their possibilities in this hard situation – at this historic moment. The Gospel will never change.”
Three countries. Six nationalities. One film.
The Peace Between explores how unlikely friendships can begin and continue to grow. We meet three Europeans who have had displaced people come into their country and their lives. And we meet the people who have travelled thousands of kilometres to seek sanctuary in Europe. These are friendships that grew in spite of huge differences.
The teams who have made the film and developed accompanying resources on www.peacebetweendialogue.com hope that, by looking at The Peace Between, there will be opportunities for honest reflection and discussion about how we all feel about displaced people in our communities.
Viewing asylum seekers through the various lenses of politics, humanitarian need, economic problems or security concerns is valid. This film invites people to pick up a new lens: relationship. It reveals the miracle of friendship stretching beyond vast differences. The Peace Between is an opportunity to “meet” real people, both Europeans and those that our cultures call ‘foreigners’ and to be challenged by how we can be neighbour to one another in spite of barriers.
The goal of this project is bigger than a simple film. We hope that churches as well as student and community groups will create the opportunity for people to view the film and then go a step further. The project envisions that they will be inspired to provide an intentionally safe space for people to react honestly to the film’s content through the sharing of experiences, hopes and concerns. Materials have been provided to make this easy.
The film and resources can be accessed and used via www.peacebetweendialogue.com . Translations of the discussion guide and subtitles in 20 languages are in the process of being added.
We would like to thank Talitha Brauer, Caroline Kamya and Dylan Klass, the makers of The Peace Between and their partners and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to create such a wonderful resource despite such limited resources. And we want to thank all who have assisted in the creation and translation of the resources on www.peacebetweendialogue.com and some amazing advisors who have guided the project.
We hope that refugee ministries, Evangelical Alliances, denominations, mission agencies, NGOs, student groups and others will let their people know about The Peace Between so that it can open up helpful reflection and discussion across Europe.
Three countries. Six nationalities. One Film. And, the challenges that come with finding the peace that can exist between us. May this project be a lens into the human side of the refugee crisis and may it lead all of us to peace.
If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]
More than 170,000 asylum-seeking children and youth have arrived alone in Europe since 2015. As the Church responds, it can be beneficial to come together to consider how God asks us to continue to care for these youth. How can we share resources and learnings? What do we still need to better understand about their experiences and their dreams for their futures? Where does a dialogue on faith fit into our relationships with these youth? The Mobilised for Unaccompanied Minors (M.U.M.) Network serves as a gathering place for churches, ministries and Christian individuals who help (or want to help) unaccompanied children and youth.
MUM exists to facilitate the dialogue, share or create needed resources, and raise awareness among the churches who are not yet connected with these youth. We seek to learn together how best to come alongside unaccompanied minors as their new community, to empower them to find solutions to their situations and work with them as they recover from trauma and renew their hope for their futures. We also serve as a voice to the Church, community and governments on behalf of these minors.
We work together in several ways:
- Network of Ministries: We host monthly calls and connect via email and our Facebook Group to share best practices, identify gaps in care for unaccompanied refugee youth, raise awareness of the plight of these youth within our communities and advocate on their behalf.
- Resources for churches, our communities, and unaccompanied asylum-seeking youth: We work together to create or share resources for these youth and for churches and communities.
- Awareness raising: Through relationships with organisations and other networks, we raise awareness about the needs and vulnerabilities of these youth, as well as their resiliency and potential to build a solid future if given a chance to participate in community. Through these networks, we seek to connect youth with caring churches and individuals who can befriend them on their journeys.
Learn more about these youth, access resources and join the MUM Network: http://refugeeconnect.yolasite.com/Unaccompanied-Minors.php
Find out how your church can help: http://refugeeconnect.yolasite.com/how-can-our-church-help.php
For more information, contact Kaylee Kolditz.