Recognizing the Humanity in Refugees

Refugee. It’s a heavy word laden with nuances in our world. There are so many types of people who fall into this category—those who are fleeing war-torn countries or persecution and those who need respite from poverty and famine.

But the meaning of the word refugee doesn’t stop there. Mention the word once in a group of people, and politics inevitably comes into the conversation. People have their opinions about the plight of refugees and what everyone should do to address it. Let’s be real, though: behind the word refugee is a human being. There’s a woman fleeing war to protect her children. There’s a man moving his family to ensure their survival during a time of famine.

Every person who becomes a refugee is a human life precious to the Lord. In the past couple of years, God has been working on my heart to ignore the political rhetoric and Facebook debates and focus only on His hurting children. If we are to live a missional lifestyle, then we must set aside societal prejudices and discover ways we can help save the lives of the people God loves.

God loves refugees, no matter their race, religion, or station. And He wants us to show His love to them so that they might come to Him for salvation. We are called to do this, and we can’t ignore it.

This blog isn’t intended to be a personal soapbox. It’s something God has laid on my heart for the past 2 years, and I can’t ignore Him. I can’t ignore the plight of the millions of refugees in this world. My heart hurts at the realization that I can’t fix their problems myself, but that task belongs to God, not me. God is in control, but that doesn’t mean I’m excused from doing all I can to help improve the lives of refugees.

In December 2016, I traveled with a group to Clarkston, Georgia, for a day to help host a Christmas party for female refugees from Syria and Iraq. It was an unforgettable day filled with smiles, tasty meals, and the gospel of Jesus spoken in Arabic. I met many women who looked different from me and had many customs that were unfamiliar to me. But that didn’t make them any less human or any less precious. In fact, 1 of the refugees made our group a traditional Middle Eastern meal for lunch that day. It was delicious, and I found myself in awe that a woman who had fled a war-torn country would make a huge meal for us.

I spent the weeks leading up to the trip nervous and excited. I was nervous because I had never done something like this before. What if I do something that offends them? But God, as at all times, was in control. He answered the prayers of our group. We connected with these women in a way that only God could orchestrate. I will never forget their faces, and I hope to see them again in the future.

If I could leave you with 1 thing going forward, it would be this: pray for God to challenge the way you think about refugees. Ask Him to open your mind and soul in a way you haven’t imagined before, no matter how accepting or hesitant you currently feel toward refugees. My prayer is that God would spark a passion in you to see the humanity of all refugees. I pray that He would fill your heart with compassion and courage not only to speak up but also to act when you see the needs of the hurting in our world.

If you have ideas you would like to share about ways to help and love refugees, then email me at I would love to hear your ideas and encourage you as you move forward!

Jessica Graham is a copy editor at national WMU. She considers it a blessing to be able to help women her age discover the meaning of faith, community, and missions.

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