14th-20th June is Refugee Week, a week where we are encouraged to make time to learn about the experiences of people from refugee backgrounds.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, refugees are people who have fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another country. They often have had to flee with little more that the clothes on their back, leaving behind homes, possessions, jobs and loved ones. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so.
A warm welcome is at the heart of Christian belief, throughout both the Old and New Testament we are provided with reminders that we are to make welcome the stranger, love thy neighbour, treat others as we wish to be treated. Even Mary and Joseph are clear examples of those seeking refuge in times of need. God has set a high standard for treating those who are foreigners. His people are to love them like we love ourselves – the reason given? Because God commanded us to.
Refugee Week is a time we can hear each other’s stories, recognise each other’s gifts and to celebrate the valuable contributions made by refugees to the world. It is a reminder that we are all responsible for creating a welcoming country. We continue at San Clemente to build on our culture of warmth, love and always, WELCOME.
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.—Hebrews 13:1-2
Emma South, Teaching and Learning Coordinator, RST/Ministry Leader