“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”― William Wilberforce
There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out all fear. I John 4:18
I know very little about refugees. I don’t have any friends that are refugees. Before Bill and I visited Jordan last January, I basically got my information about refugees from the media. I’d already made up my mind about how I felt about people immigrating to the US following the catastrophic attacks in Paris. I watched several news shows about the migration of Syrians to Europe and the tragic stories of families lost at sea running from the atrocious actions in their country. I’ve traveled to the Middle East on numerous occasions. I love the people and the culture of the Holy Land but felt that the US needed be cautious about allowing large numbers of people into our country. The depth of my knowledge could’ve filled a thimble.
While in Jordan working with Syrian and Iraqi refugees, I received an invitation to attend The GC2 Summit hosted by The Billy Graham Institute. The GC2 moniker is a symbol for The Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Both initiatives were entrusted to followers of Jesus Christ. I invited a few of our staff members to attend the conference with me. The general response was overwhelming. The organizers moved the conference venue to Community Christian Church in Naperville to accommodate those willing to take a full day to learn more about refugees and wrestle with how God may be calling the church to respond. You may watch video from that conference here.
Major Evangelical partners for the event included, The Billy Graham Center for Evangelism (BGCE), the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College (HDI), and LifeWay Research. The gathering on January 20, 2016, focused on equipping Christians and churches to connect with and serve refugees and refugee communities both domestically and internationally. This event featured top speakers like Rich Sterns (World Vision), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Community Church), Rick Warren (Saddleback Community Church), Christine Caine (A21), Stephan Bauman (World Relief) and many others who used biblical principles to help Christians and churches better understand their responsibility to show and share the love of Jesus Christ to refugees and their communities. On December 17, 2015, over 100 denominational, network, and non-profit leaders signed the Christian Declaration on Caring for Refugees: An Evangelical Response as a first step toward answering the call of Jesus Christ and this humanitarian disaster.
I felt Christ’s call to do something. It was His voice speaking to me as I listened to each speaker challenge me. My first priority is to learn the facts and then share them with others. I believe it is the Holy Spirit’s role to ignite a passion within you for lost people but you must decide for yourself to step up and do something. The July message series is titled 'We Are Not Afraid'. We will discover biblical refugee stories, learn more about refugees and pray about what we believe God is calling us to do in response to the refugee crisis. There are several events planned to help equip us during the sermon series. Wheatland has partnered with World Relief to offer two options to learn directly from the experts. Bring your favorite international dish to share with others at the forum where World Relief representative Keith Draper, our own Faith Promise partners from Jordan and our resident scholar/theologian Corey Ashley will be available so we can ask real questions and learn together.
July 10, Oswego campus will host a World Relief Experience Day with Emily Gray, the Executive Director of World Relief. Invite friends to attend and learn with you.
July 17, Naperville campus will host a World Relief Experience Day and International Potluck Forum with Keith Draper. Invite friends to attend and learn with you.
World maps will be present at both locations during the month of July. You can learn more about our Thumbprint Project here. "It may be more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier.", UN Force Commander Major General Patrick Camembert. Learn more about women and children in crisis.
Some people may question why we are venturing into such a controversial topic this summer. I believe it is God’s call for us to pay attention to our neighbors. After all, isn’t our Wheatland Salem vision statement to Love God, Love others, Change the world? See you Sunday as we kick-off our We Are Not Afraid month!