Standing on the cliffs above Dover in England, you can look out over the English Channel toward France and watch mighty ships and tankers plow through the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Dotted amongst those hundreds of vessels, you may spot a small inflatable boat crammed with people — refugees and migrants, who have paid large sums of money to people-smugglers to help them cross into British waters. Their lives are in great danger.
You do not see this in the news headlines. You do not read of the continued tragedies in the Mediterranean or on the border between Turkey and Greece. You do not read of the thousands stuck in camps for displaced persons. The world is quiet on this subject. The news agenda has moved on. There are other stories to cover. Yet, as Christians, how can we turn a blind eye to their suffering?
A Call to Action
More than 70 million internally displaced people worldwide seek asylum or live as refugees in other countries.
As an international humanitarian organization, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has a long history of helping people displaced by conflict and persecution.In the face of this unprecedented humanitarian crisis, ADRA is again marking World Refugee Sabbath on June 20, 2020, with a call to action:
“We call on the international community to find a timely, humane solution to resettling the refugees stranded in Libya and other parts of the world.
“We call on the international community to address the circumstances that cause people to become refugees. Human dignity and human rights are always the same regardless of changing circumstances and commerce.
“We call on the media to report responsibly on the refugee crisis and related events.
“We call on them to present a balanced, fair picture of events, and not stoke people’s fears and prejudices.
“We call on churches to talk to the congregations about what the Christian response should be to these events and how to follow Jesus’ example, even in difficult times.”
“Seventh-day Adventist churches in Europe have partnered with ADRA Europe on projects to support refugees in their communities.
“We call on individuals to not be guided by selfishness, fear, and prejudice.
“We urge a response to this crisis driven by intelligence, compassion, and a recognition of our shared humanity and human rights.
“We believe that every person has the power to have a positive impact on the world around them and that there is something everyone can do to help refugees, even if it is just saying a prayer for them or educating yourself about the situation."
This year, as World Refugee Sabbath is focused on the kingdom of God, a moving sermon has been recorded by Marjukka Ostrovljanović. It is available both as a script and as a 14-minute video presentation with a carefully constructed surprise ending.
Ostrovljanović originates from Finland. She completed her theological studies at Newbold College of Higher Education and currently serves as a pastor in Germany.
As part of her introduction to the sermon prepared for World Refugee Sabbath, she asks, “What do you think the kingdom of God is like? What do you dream of when you think of the kingdom of God? We dream of a kingdom of peace where there is no pain, no fighting, and no sin. What an image and what a contrast when we compare that kingdom with our world today. But have you ever thought about how you and I can be part of that kingdom here on earth today?”
“While refugees are not in the headlines at the moment, they are still with us. Thank you for your care for them,” said João Martins, ADRA Europe director. “We pray that this day and this sermon will prove to be a blessing as together we remember the 70 million displaced people worldwide, children of our heavenly Father, who are struggling to find a future in the present.”
This World Refugee Sabbath sermon is the result of a partnership between ADRA Europe and the Inter-European and Trans-European Division church regions. It is made as a gift to ministry partners and churches worldwide. World Refugee Sabbath is a global program of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-European Division news site.