World Refugee Sunday 2017
June 20th is World Refugee Day, and shortly after it was established the World Evangelical Alliance declared the Sundays before and after June 20th to be World Refugee Sunday. This year Refugee Sunday falls on June 18th and June 25th. Refugee Sunday is an awesome opportunity for churches to learn more about God's heart for refugees and how they can get involved with serving refugees in their community.
This year more than ever, with a presidential administration that is openly opposed to welcoming refugees, it is so important for churches to boldly support what the Bible has to say about welcoming the stranger. Would you consider urging your local congregation to join with the global church next month as we pray for and learn about refugees? Here are some ideas and resources you might be able to incorporate into your service on June 18th or 25th.
Scripture Reading. If your church service includes a Scripture reading that is separate from the sermon text, pick one that is related to refugees (i.e. Deut:10:14-22, Matthew 2:13-18, 1 Kings 8:41-44, Luke 10:29-37)
Pray. Have someone pray specifically for refugees. You can use a pre-written prayer like this beautiful one, or pray spontaneously.
Invite a guest speaker. Does someone from your church work with refugees? Invite them to come and speak about their ministry and share about the needs of refugees in your community.
Utilize the talents of the church. Does your congregation have a choir that you’re part of? Pick a song or hymn that fits the general theme. Some ideas here, here, and here. Are there talented actors in your church? Maybe they could do a skit or brief play about refugees. Think outside the box!
Plan a refugee themed service. This would be an amazing thing to do if your pastor happens to be informed and passionate about the refugee crisis. Your pastor could prepare a sermon that focuses on God’s heart for foreigners from texts like Ephesians 2:11-22 or Deuteronomy 10:14-22 and incorporate all the ideas previously listed. This is an excellent sample resource for such a service.
Come up with your own idea! This is certainly not an exhaustive list of ideas. Websites like the Refugee Highway Partnership, We Welcome Refugees, and World Relief have additional ideas and resources you can explore to find the perfect way for your church to participate in Refugee Sunday.
If you're not a pastor or church leader yourself then doing any of these things requires sending an email or setting up a meeting with your pastor to explain what Refugee Sunday is and sharing your desire for your church to participate. That can sound intimidating, but I encourage you to take a step of faith to share some of these ideas with your pastor. Be brave, and prayerfully approach your pastor about Refugee Sunday. Feel free to share this article with him or her so that you don't have to come up with all the ideas yourself. Who knows, you may help begin a wonderful new tradition at your church.
If you are a pastor or church leader, you may also be hesitant to take part in Refugee Sunday. Refugees are a controversial issue right now, especially in the US. You probably know what the Bible has to say on the issue already. You know that God's heart is for his people to step out in faith and welcome foreigners, even if we might be afraid to do that. However, you might also be concerned about people in your congregation becoming upset or even leaving the church if you speak from the pulpit on this topic. I urge you to be bold and to trust that God will bless your choice to present the truth of his Word, no matter the political climate. Refugee Sunday is a great opportunity to start addressing this topic slowly since it is a day that churches across the country and the world are participating in together.
Let's come together next month, church leaders and church members, to declare that God's Word commands us to welcome the stranger, and that God's Word does not change with government shifts, with civil wars, with rising fear, but instead remains the same, constant through it all. The church too must remain firm in her compassionate biblical response to the refugee crisis, and Refugee Sunday is one way for us to do just that.