The Refugee Crisis: A Man-Made Disaster

by David Nakhla, OPC Disaster Response Coordinator (September 2015)

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: 
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
James 1:27 (ESV)

I recently heard someone recall a quote of Stalin’s – that “a single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic” – in reference to the body of a young Syrian refugee boy that had washed up on the beach and captivated the attention and ire of the world as the current refugee crisis builds. This crisis isn’t new, but it has escalated rapidly and cost many lives.

To date, there is a record number of refugees and/or internally displaced people in the world. That number is pushing 60 million or 1/122 people. In many places, this is being driven by the overt slaughter of civilians, many of them singled out for being Christians or belonging to other minority groups. Even as it has been said that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” the refugee crisis is creating opportunities for a gospel witness in places and with people that previously seemed impossible to reach.

Many hearts have been stirred to action. We have heard from some of you, asking, “How can we help? What can we do?” The Committee on Diaconal Ministries is asking these same questions. We have learned of other churches and Christian organizations that are on the front lines striving to show forth the compassion of Christ to those orphans and widows in their distress. We also anticipate that it may not be long before these orphans and widows come to our own cities and neighborhoods.

Please pray for the Committee on Diaconal Ministries as it considers how the OPC might become involved in this ministry. And continue to be in prayer for many who are suffering – most importantly, our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for Christ’s sake.

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