Refugees are headline news, and there is turmoil and chaos in the air as protests have again erupted around the country – but this is not distant news. The “issue” of refugees is not imported controversy or partisan politics.
Our campus is a haven for refugees.
The persecution of Burmese people by the government of (now) Myanmar is among the worst in the world, and Charlotte’s Burmese population is among the largest of any ethnic group here. Every Sunday mothers and fathers and their (many!) children find a safe place of worship, the welcome of God’s love – through the open doors of Park Road Baptist Church. These good, hard-working people are finding a new life in Charlotte, contributing to the economy, raising their families here as they earn citizenship and find their way into a new land and culture.
Many of you have raised questions about what we can do for refugees. Thank you.
First, let’s remember that we are already actively involved in the efforts to resettle refugees through our support of Chin Bethel Baptist Church – but we could be more involved. Maybe you feel a calling to step up to lead an effort to help our congregation better know and support our Burmese brothers and sisters? What other ways could we help? What are their ongoing needs? How could we bridge the cultural and linguistic divide and better get to know these good folks?
We supported Charlotte’s Refugee Support Services in one of our 2016 monthly mission offerings after Rachel Humphries, founder and Executive Director, spoke on a Wednesday night. Maybe we need to issue another invitation and renew our support through our mission offering?
Maybe we need to adopt a specific family? The number of refugees, world-wide, is at an all-time high, and their stories are terrifying and heart-breaking as they flee religious or political persecution. Maybe we need to reach out to one of Charlotte’s support agencies and ask if there is a family in need?
Last year we significantly modified our missions budget to reflect a priority commitment to Sedgefield Elementary School (There are no refugee children/ families at Sedgefield.), and we will maintain the priority of Uplift Sedgefield: Change begins with US in 2017. We also have a significant, ongoing mission effort with homeless ministries, but maybe you feel a calling to respond in this crisis moment, to help us lead an overall effort for work with refugees?
Refugee resettlement literally saves thousands of lives every year, and since the Second World War, the United States has been one of the world’s leaders in receiving distressed people. In opening our gates to immigrants, we fulfill our calling, as engraved on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
What can we do to help more of God’s children “breathe free”?
As this refugee crisis continues to speak to your heads, maybe God will speak to your heart, and you’ll help us respond as a church? Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13.2).
Or, is God is calling you to be an angel?