The aroma of Middle-Eastern coffee wafts through the small Hobart rental. I like the smell but not the taste or its effects. The aroma welcomes me into Ahmed and his family’s new abode. I’m offered dried fruit and nuts as well as Middle-Eastern pastries. I’m amazed by the hospitality and the story I hear.
Ahmed and his family have just arrived in Hobart. A Muslim, Ahmed had been a doctor running a hospital. He and his team were asked to do medical procedures against his conscience. He refused and was demoted. Then he was put in jail. After his release, Ahmed escaped to a relative’s home in the country. He was a wanted man and had no future under Saddam Hussein’s regime.
. . . the Israelites were refugees. Jesus was a Refugee in Egypt escaping Herod’s murderous actions. No wonder the Bible repeats that we should care for the foreigners and needy.
He spent days hiding under rocks in the snake-infested desert and nights walking with no food and little water. He dodged bullets and crossed two borders. It was difficult to arrange an escape for his family who were under surveillance but they were finally reunited and—after two years—resettled in Australia.
Members of the local Seventh-day Adventist church were helping refugees settle into their homes. They brought secondhand furniture and helped them buy cars. They took them to the shops, schools and doctors. I offered pastoral support and listened to their stories as they adjusted to a new way of life. Dozens of refugee families from Asia, Europe, South and Central America and the Middle East were supported by this church. I was pleased to be part of a team who cared for people like Ahmed.
There are 120 million refugees in our world. Historically and biblically, the Israelites were refugees. Jesus was a Refugee in Egypt escaping Herod’s murderous actions (Matthew 2:13-15). No wonder the Bible repeats that we should care for the foreigners and needy (Exodus 22:21, 23:9, Deuteronomy 10:17-19, 24:14-22). Let’s pray for refugees and do more than that if we can.
Pastor Glenn Townend is president of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.