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Editorial: Refugee debate demands a global perspective

Here in the U.S., debates about our immigration policies dominate headlines.

We pray that, in the midst of the confusion and frustration, we don’t lose sight of the global epidemic of displaced persons. Worldwide, the number of people displaced by war, conflict or persecution reached a record high of nearly 60 million in 2014, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The U.S., comparatively, resettled 69,933 refugees in fiscal year 2015, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Andrew Kelly
Many refugees never leave their home country. Recently, the years-long conflict in eastern Ukraine has intensified, forcing men, women and children — many of them orphans — from their homes.

In the tiny, central Ukrainian community of Kolentsi, about an hour south of Chernobyl, a ministry supported by Churches of Christ recently took in 22 children and nine caretakers from the war zone, said administrator Andrew Kelly. He and his wife, Jenny, oversee the nonprofit Jeremiah’s Hope, which runs a camp for orphans and at-risk kids. Since Ukraine’s war began, the camp has served as a temporary home for multiple groups of refugees.

In 2014, when the first refugees arrived at the camp, Andrew Kelly told his wife, “This is why God built this place.”
Related: Nearly 30 years after Chernobyl, a Christian camp in central Ukraine becomes a refuge from the bloody conflict in the country’s war-torn east.
We all are displaced people. We’ve shared those words before in this space, but they bear repeating. We remember 1 Peter 2, where the apostle urges us — as aliens and strangers, as foreigners and exiles — to abstain from sinful desires and live as a royal priesthood.

In Ukraine, the Kellys help refugees find jobs and resettle in nearby towns or the capital, Kiev. When the Ukrainians say goodbye to their temporary hosts, there are no simple thank-yous, Andrew Kelly said. Instead, they speak for five or six minutes as they praise their hosts, counting the blessings they’ve received one by one.

Are we as grateful to the God who rescues us, who gives us refuge?

More on churches serving refugees

Europe’s refugee crisis calls churches to respond — but how?

• The long road form Baghdad: Former Muslim spreads Gospel to Michigan’s Arab community

Ukraine’s refugees share stories of loss, hope, new life

Editorial: We all are displaced

The people of Nonesuch Road: In Abilene, Texas, refugees find new struggles, new life

Filed under: Editorial

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