Last weekend, we celebrated our second annual Panhandle Refugee Celebration. After last year’s virtual celebration, it was a joy to gather with our community in person to honor the refugees who make this city so much better! We enjoyed dances, choirs, a quartet performance by the Amarillo Symphony, and a speech from the mayor, who also awarded certificates to refugee community leaders for their service.
This event was a reminder to us about the tragedies refugees worldwide have experienced in their homelands. It’s a reminder about the pain that so many in our world are facing as they make the difficult decision to flee for safety. The event also serves as a reminder that we have an opportunity with each newly-arrived refugee to change the narrative. We can welcome these fleeing men and women with open arms. As such, we operate as the hands and feet of God, who has a heart to bring shalom to the stranger.
“God’s people are called again and again across Scripture to extend kinship to those on the margins, those without community, the dispossessed, the dishonored, and the displaced. … We are convinced that it is a better, richer, more joyful ethic for community, even if a fearful world says otherwise. But its realization will take creativity and courage, prayer and spiritual renewal, and God’s hand” (Refuge Reimagined, p13, p19).
As the world wrestles, often with venomous rhetoric, with the growing global crisis of forced displacement, we as followers of Jesus should recognize that we can offer hope in a broken world. We see that there is another way! We offer compassion for displaced people. We extend kinship—a mutual responsibility and solidarity—to those who are marginalized and without a home.