June 1, 2016: Adventists around the world are being asked to do something about the millions of families fleeing war and persecution to save their lives. On the third Sabbath this month (June 18) the topic is to be discussed, prayed about and the focus of action plans in every local church in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. This is the Sabbath before the United Nations World Refugee Day on Monday, June 20.
Why is this happening? Of course, there is the mandate in the direct words of Jesus; “I was an alien and you invited me in” (Matthew 25:35) in which Christ identifies himself personally as a refugee; a historical fact at the time of his birth. In Matthew 24-25, Jesus places helping refugees among the things that will be done by the authentic people of God looking to the Second Advent in the end times.
It is also true that in recent decades significant numbers of converts to the Adventist faith are more likely to be found among refugees, immigrants and migrants than the settled, native-born portion of the population with deep roots in local communities. Research has shown that this to be true around the world in almost all nations where the Adventist denomination has been established.
The June issue of Adventist World, the official periodical of the denomination’s General Conference, includes 15 articles on the topic with a range of news, Bible study, theology and personal testimony. On page 45 are specific activities that it is recommended that local churches, schools, community service units and small groups implement: provide language classes, operate an emergency food pantry, collect and distribute used furniture, organize a fitness day, sponsor an arts and crafts festival or a talent night when the music and food of various cultures can be shared, or host soccer games.
The to-do list is made up of proven ways to connecting with newcomers from other parts of the world, make them feel welcome and meet real needs in the name of Christ. This is what Adventists should be doing, say denominational leaders, instead of going along with the popular anti-refugee, anti-immigrant nationalist attitudes that are currently being promoted by some political forces in Europe, North America and elsewhere.
Adventists in Switzerland have been having a yearly Refugee Sabbath since 2012, reports APD, the European Adventist news service. Swiss Adventists will be praying for their brothers and sisters around the world this month as well as the flood of suffering families that are coming into Europe.
What is planned for your local church or your institution around World Refugee Day? Please send reports to Adventist Today by Email at firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be included in a summary compilation report about the impact of this new concept.