More often than not lately, working in the refugee field can be exhausting and disheartening. Many of us find ourselves speechless and frankly, feeling pretty helpless. Even writing this I feel as though I am grasping for words that I cannot seem to find. Misinformation circles the social media channels and finds its way into the news feeds of many. Fear and unfamiliarity result in unwelcome attitudes and policies, in hurtful words and actions. Many of us find ourselves living in a country that we no longer recognize. This fear and lack of understanding seeps its way from our social media into our neighborhoods, our schools, our businesses, our voting boxes, and eventually, our policies.
If you sit through an orientation or a presentation that I (and many World Relief staff) give, I will likely tell you how many refugees have been admitted to the US annually, in past years. I began working with World Relief in 2013, at which time about 70,000 refugees were admitted to the US. In 2016, in response to the growing refugee crisis, President Obama increased the number of refugees to be admitted up to 85,000. Before leaving office, he increased the number is 100,000 refugees for 2017. Upon entering office, President Trump and his administration decreased the number down to 45,500 for 2017. However, it is unlikely we will even reach half of this number by the end of the fiscal year, which rolls around on September 30, 2018. And now? There is discussion of further reducing this number for 2019.
Large numbers can paralyze us, so let’s look at these numbers on a smaller, and more local level; my first year working with World Relief Fox Valley, we welcomed 88 individuals to the area. In 2015 and 2016, we welcomed around 130 newcomers. In 2016, when President Obama increased the numbers we were thrilled to welcome 209 individuals, including many families and children, to Appleton and Oshkosh. We felt the impact of President Trump’s decrease in 2017, with just 110 individuals arriving. As of today, our office will have had the opportunity to welcome just 40 individuals for the current fiscal year.
Numbers aside, the simple fact is that our sisters in Christ are being persecuted and we are unable to welcome them. Our brothers in Christ long to be united with family members, while those family members wait, stuck in the current limbo that is refugee processing overseas these days. The refugee crisis continues, the number of people uprooted increases, safety for so many continues to deteriorate. If there was ever a time to advocate for our refugee neighbors, it is now. We must not turn our back on the world. We are all made in God’s image; Even the person who was born on soil different than mine, whose primary language is unfamiliar to my ears and whose home smells of spices I cannot remember ever using. Distance makes us feel detached, unfamiliarity makes us feel separate, but God has called us all His child, Jesus died on the cross for each and every one of us.
The Bible tells us that prayer is important. We know that our God is a God that answers unimaginable, seemingly impossible prayers. So even in a time where it seems that much is against us, we must continue to pray big prayers. But not only are we called to call out to Christ, we are called to be His hands and feet in this world. And sometimes, this means we are required to call out to our government on behalf of His people. Sometimes, being His hands and feet requires us to pick up the phone and speak truth, to advocate, to educate. God has called us to raise our voices on behalf of His people. Now is that time. Real people, HIS people, will be significantly impacted by what we do and say today, or by what we neglect to do and what we leave unsaid.
Let us lift up our voices to Him. But let us not forget to also lift up our voices to our government officials.
Please, join us in advocating on behalf of refugees, today.
The message we are spreading is a simple one: The US is ready, willing and able to welcome 75,000 refugees. At this time of unprecedented refugee need, with over 25 million refugees, the US should be leading and increasing, not reducing the number of refugees we welcome.
- Call the White House – 202-456-1111 with the message above
- Call congressional representatives with the same message
- Blast social media, or emails to your mailing lists to raise their voices to the WH, Congress, and on social media (hashtag suggestions: #Welcome75K #RefugeesWelcome #WithRefugees #WeWelcomeRefugees)