Jesus the Refugee

I walk to the edge of the Aegean Sea and look across at the clouded mass that is Turkey. The shores of Lesvos island are littered with tiny jeans, mismatched sandals, and pieces of black inflatable raft. The first time I walked down the beach and saw a pair of little jeans, my prayers turned to sobs as I felt God’s overwhelming compassion for the refugees.

The refugee crisis first became real to me as I stood to catch the ferry from Athens to Lesvos. A bus pulled up and thirty refugees from all over the Middle East piled out. As I looked at their faces, I realized how real their troubles were. They weren’t just people you see on the news. This was real life — moms holding crying babies, children trying to survive, a young woman crying as she speaks on a phone to family back home. There is fear. Uncertainty. Relief to have made it this far. Tinges of hope. Grief. All of these emotions hit me and my teammates at once. And like a dam that has burst, we pour out our hearts to God in prayer.

When we reach the island, everything feels different. It’s strange. But instead of fear or sorrow, peace and hope fills our hearts. I’m convinced this peace is the result of millions of prayers for this place and these precious refugees.

I can’t imagine what would cause a mother to take her seven small children in an inflatable raft across a rough stretch of freezing sea. I can’t imagine the circumstances that lead families to separate and pray that they will meet on the other side. I can’t imagine what horrors they’re fleeing. But as I stand with my feet in the water and look across at Turkey, suddenly, I know:

My God is good. There’s not a question in my mind: My God really is GOOD! And He identifies with the refugees. After all, He was one!

As the icy cold water rises around my ankles making me feel numb, I know that my God puts his feet in this same water. He crosses in the same boats they cross in. He sleeps on the same ground they sleep on. His feet are in the water and his heart is with the refugee. After all, He makes His home with the lonely (Psalm 68:5-6).

My God is not the God who sinks boats and causes people to drown. He is the One who carries refugees safely to land and weeps over every lost boat.

My God is not the God who causes wars that make people suffer and flee. He is the one who receives refugees in peace.

There are so many verses in the Bible about refugees. God longs for us to care for them. But He doesn’t stop with words. Instead, He himself became one.

Jesus came as a refugee. He was born in a manger. His parents fled a tyrant who was murdering babies. They found refuge in Egypt. Then, when it still wasn’t safe for them to return to Bethlehem, they raised Jesus far from their relatives in Nazareth.

Jesus lived without a home throughout His ministry. He said, “Even foxes have dens, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Lk. 9:58)

Jesus knew weakness, hunger and poverty. He did not come as a king. He came as a servant. He did not demand treasures or comfort or ease. Instead, He gave everything.

And that’s why I’m sure I know what He’s doing now. He’s climbing in the boat as refugees cross the dangerous sea. He’s sleeping with them under the bushes. He’s walking beside them as they journey countless hours through Europe.

My God is faithful. Before I ever knew what a refugee was, God became one himself. That’s why every time I start to worry for the refugees, God immediately reassures me. “They’re OK. I’ve got them. I love them. And I will be faithful to the end.”

Although I stand in the midst of the greatest humanitarian crisis of our day, I feel peace. For I know that Jesus is here! My Jesus, the refugee.

by Megan, DTS Staff

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