Recently it was International Refugee Week. Such occasions offer an opportunity to reflect on how we respond to people in this predicament.
The statistics can be overwhelming – 80 million displaced from their homes, millions seeking asylum – but to God, every person is precious and has a name. We can feel uncomfortable when we encounter others in crisis, but we can also be people of compassion.
Let me tell you about my friend Mwajemi. I met her about 10 years ago when she and her family arrived in Australia from the Congo. They had been in a refugee camp in Burundi and endured incredible hardship.
Mwajemi and Riziki had five children, little English and no money. We became friends and asked them to share their first Christmas here with us.
Recently we were at their home when Mwajemi decided to tell the other Congolese people present about the impact our welcome had. It was quite humbling.
She recalled that Christmas Day: ‘I saw a beautiful table laid out with food and thought, “There must be some important guests coming today”. But when no-one else arrived, I realised it was for us.’
It was a happy day. Later that afternoon, my wife Beverley suggested that Mwajemi ‘escape’ with her to our bedroom so they could have a ‘girl talk’. Mwajemi said, ‘This was the first time a “mtu mweupe” (white person) let me lay my head on their pillow’. That brought a tear to my eye.
The whole family are now community leaders employed helping other arrivals, but she graciously wanted to highlight a day when her heart began to be restored.
We felt so humbled that God does his thing and gives us the privilege to join in. Do we have a space at our table, or a place for a head to rest? It might just change someone’s life.
- Visit www.lca.org.au/spread-the-word to find promotional materials (A5 flyers, PowerPoint slides and social media posts) to help you spread the word about our Story of the Week.
- Read the full Story of the Week and others like it in The Lutheran. 11 editions/year. Only $30 (digital) or $45 (print or print & digital – Aust), $47 (NZ). Gift subscriptions available. To subscribe: online www.thelutheran.com.au email firstname.lastname@example.org phone 08 8360 7270.