A place to call home: CMSI and Refugees

Staff_team_2015 Posted by Roger Cooke on Fri, 09 Oct 2015 | 1 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

This is my home, this is where I feel at home and this is where I love to be…I would not want to live anywhere else, it is not always easy, but it is where I belong.

(Bishop Masimango – Kindu Diocese, DR Congo)

People need to have a place to call home. Sometimes, this will require God’s people to welcome the stranger, providing safety and security for those who have had to ‘leave’. Wherever possible, however, CMSI wants to help ensure people can be at home where they really want to be. That’s why we stand with – and support – our partners.

Over recent weeks, we’ve been asked by a number of people how CMSI is responding to the current refugee crisis. The question is understandable. Since mid-August, our international news has been dominated by stories of people on the move: people fleeing abject horror and suffering, people risking everything to make perilous and uncertain journeys, people seeking refuge, safety and a new start for their families.

So, what is CMSI’s response?


What we’re saying

In CMSI, we recognise that the story of God’s people is a story of exodus, exile and migration and we uphold the clear, biblical teaching that compels God’s people to welcome the stranger, to champion the cause of the marginalised and to seek justice, peace and mercy.

In the Old Testament, God’s people identified themselves as those who had been delivered out of slavery in Egypt and led to a new homeland. Jesus began life as a refugee and his ministry was played out ‘on the move’. We’re implored to care for those in need: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing shelter for the ‘poor wanderer’… (Isaiah 58; Matthew 25).

Whatever the political issues at play, a ‘Christian response’ to refugees must be charaterised by welcome, acceptance, compassion and love and it must involve active, practical support for those who have no place to call home.

As regards the current situation with refugees arriving in Europe, CMSI echo the recent statement by the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland, in which they ‘continue to urge people to pray, engage with political representatives, and give as they can in response to this crisis.’

However, in CMSI, we also want to acknowledge that the global refugee situation is much bigger and broader than the story unfolding in Europe and the exodus from Syria. While responding to those things, we also need to keep shining a light on other places where people have no place to call home. We also want to highlight the importance of investing in countries that have experienced political instability, to help reduce the need to flee.


What we’re doing

CMSI has a long history of standing with the Church in parts of the world that are experiencing significant civil unrest and political strife; no more so than in DR Congo and what is now South Sudan. Very often, our partners in these places – and in neighbouring countries – have sought to respond in active love to those who have been uprooted through violence and fear. Our Global Partners are no strangers to the impact of internal displacement and international migration.

As it’s done in the past, CMSI currently supports its Global Partners as they care for refugees and internally displaced people in DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. Our Burundi Refugee Appeal, launched earlier this year, is still active and through it, we’ve been able to support work with refugees in Bukavu Diocese (DR Congo) and Kibungo Diocese (Rwanda).

Tellingly, churches are often the first port of call for those who have left home and are in need of help. We heard of one woman in South Sudan named Rebekah, who fled for her life with her children. As she left home, her husband shouted after her:

Go to the church in Maridi – there you will find the love of God.

What a vision for the Church! We want to help our Global Partners provide places of love and welcome for the ‘poor wanderer’.

But, in the context of the global refugee crisis, the most significant thing CMSI can do – the most significant thing we are doing – is to support our Global Partners as they help build more stable societies and make it more likely that people will stay. Any meaningful response to the global refugee crisis must include significant investment in those places where ‘leaving’ has been the only option.

In these places of historic conflict and instability, the Church makes a huge contribution to the twin processes of healing and rebuilding. Hope, peace and security grow in any society where God’s people are sharing the values of His Kingdom – which is exactly what our Global Partners continue to do in South Sudan, DR Congo, Burundi and beyond. They’re involved in active peacemaking and reconciliation. They’re investing in education, healthcare and community development. They’re helping to provide economic opportunities for people, in their own locations. They’re offering help and hope.

In CMSI, we want to keep supporting all these efforts to build God’s Kingdom and build societies where people can feel safe, secure and valued – places where people can belong. We want to help the Church to be a place where people go to seek help. This is our contribution to the global refugee crisis: this is what we’re doing.


What we’re encouraging you to do

1. Pray
Please continue to pray for the global refugee crisis – for those who have had to leave home; for peace and stability in the countries from which they’re fleeing; for safety on their journeys; for a greater sense of love and compassion when they ‘arrive’ in a new place; for the governments and churches in ‘host countries’ – to act and to lead in ways that uphold justice and promote human dignity.

2. Provide financial support to CMSI’s Global Partners
Please support our Global Partners as they engage specifically with volunteers and as they help to build more stable societies, where people feel able to stay rather than leave.

To find our more about supporting CMSI and our Global Partners financially, visit our donations page.

We’d also encourage you to find out more about CMSI’s Burundi Refugee Appeal.

3. Lobby your political leaders
As an individual or parish group, you can urge political leaders in Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland to speak out and to help encourage a more positive, compassionate and just response to those seeking refuge in Ireland and the UK. For more information on how to lobby your political representatives, click the relevant links:
Lobby your TD. Senator or Local Councillor (Republic of Ireland)
Lobby your MP (Northern Ireland/UK)
Lobby your MLA (Northern Ireland)

4. Support another organisation’s response
Such is the significance of the current crisis in Europe, there will be many CMSI supporters who want to financially support a specific, immediate response. We would encourage you to do so by donating to one or more of those organisations with much greater expertise than we do in emergency responses. Here are a few suggestions:

Support Barnabas Fund’s Response
Support Tearfund UK’s Response
Support Christian Aid Ireland’s Response


Jenny Smyth – Mission Director
Roger Cooke – Mission Resource Manager

Comments

bruce dunk said Mon, 23 Nov 2015 05:03AM
Good to hear your thoughtful, solid response. I have worked with refugees in the past and it is amazing how only a little security will encourage them to go back home.

Add your own comment