According to World Vision, 60 million people in the world are refugees. The Syrian War alone has displaced 12 million—half of which are children.
The statistics are staggering. In some ways, though, the refugee crisis can feel distant, affecting “those people over there.” After all, most of us don’t know any refugees personally.
On the other hand, it can feel purely political as presidential candidates debate whether to allow refugees to enter our borders. The vast majority of Syrian refugees, however, live within walking distance of Syria, often in tents in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. They stay close because they want to go back home.
The problem can also feel far too large to make any significant impact—especially as a small group. That’s why I was excited to hear about a new free resource from World Vision called “Stand Alongside Syrian Refugees,” a four-session small-group study. World Vision has partnered with Willow Creek Association to create resources that address the biggest needs of our day, and this discussion and prayer guide is their first offering.
Each session includes a story about a child in the midst of the refugee crisis, putting a personal face on the issue. You’ll also find a Bible passage that illustrates God’s heart for refugees and several questions that will help your group members discuss the passage and apply the principles to their own life and relationships. Finally, you’ll find several prayer points to direct your prayers for refugees around the world. When we discover God’s heart for refugees through his Word, we’re challenged not only to help the displaced worldwide, but also to take steps to bring justice and mercy to our own cities.
“This is the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time,” says Kurt Rahn of World Vision. “We’re hoping that American Christians will gain a greater understanding of the scope and severity of this crisis and the opportunity we have to respond to this great need. In addition, to understand God’s heart for the most vulnerable, for the stranger, for those living in the most difficult places on earth in unimaginable situations.”
The scope of the crisis is enormous, and you may wonder how your small group can actually make a difference. Using this study can be a great first step. You’ll learn more about God’s heart for displaced people, and that can impact your perspective as you go about your everyday life. Second, you’ll discover important prayer points. Third, you’ll learn about other ways to help like using your voice to make a difference, becoming a refugee responder, or hosting a refugee Sunday at your church.
The issue can be complicated, and learning the facts about the crisis is important. For more on the refugee crisis and what you can do to make a difference, check out these resources:
- Christianity Today recently published an article from Richard Stearns, President of World Vision USA, about how to love refugees with the compassion of Christ.
- They also published an article on how the Roma people in Europe are responding to refugees.
- Ed Stetzer recently reflected on the GC2 Summit, a recent conference on how evangelicals can respond to the refugee crisis.
- Her.meneutics published an article on ways to help refugees that are arriving in the United States, and Gleanings reported where America’s refugees are coming from.
- Get statistics and resources including a free small-group study from World Vision at worldvision.com/refugees.
—Amy Jackson is managing editor of SmallGroups.com.
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