Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Asylum Seekers...

Been talking with some folks today about Asylum Seekers/Refugees in Australia.
I think we could/should/ought to do more for people who come from other countries seeking shelter/provision.
This is a huge issue in a justice sense... and an even bigger issue in a Biblical sense.
Many commands that have to do with what justice looks like in scripture (particularly the old testament) have to do with caring for the 'alien - the foreigner or the refugee' (and the new testament virtually makes being a Christian a way into the 'refugee' status!) How many do you know?
Have you met someone from another culture and actually had them over for dinner? or spent anytime with them at all?

I met a women who was from another country who told me a bit of her story. She found herself fleeing from a domestic violence situation with two young boys.. no money, no community and no where to go! She eventually got a 'package' which consisted of an apartment next door to drug dealers where she was scared to go out of her house - and 10 paid for english classes... as a result she has never been able to finish taking English so her speaking skills are limited... she could take more at 29 dollars an hour (IF she had anyone to watch her kids!!!). It's crazy.

That's just one story - there are soooo many like it. We have an opportunity to enter into another world... a bigger, connected world where our cultures can be enriched by others.

Why not take some time to meet someone this week who isn't like you. Be their friend - or at least make some significant attempt?!
I think we could do some advocacy, awareness, programs social provision, housing... but if we really want to change the world - we ought to take the responsibility ourselves and choose to widen our influence to include those in our own country from another land! It's what God in the flesh looks like. Be the body.


Anonymous said...

A great way to get involved is to visit your local Migrant Resource Centre. The one in Dandenong runs a volunteer Youth Mentoring program who work with young refugees helping them to keep connected with school. All you have to do is give up an hour a week and catch up with the young person to be a support for them.
The MRC is desperate for people, particularly males as there are more refugees than volunteers!

Honza said...

The Comparative Historian Arnold J. Toynbee http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_J._Toynbee said that Nations rose and fell on the basis of their relationship to the 'Glory of God'. His view was that the Glory of God was God's moral nature, which is Mercy, Justice, Compassion. The health of any civilisation can be rated on how well they do on these. The old testament prophets guaged how things were by seeing how the stranger (refugees), the orphan (street kids) and the widows (single mums) were doing. Jesus announced he was on about the same things when he quoted Isaiah 61 at the beginning of his ministry.
So, the question is 'how does our country rate? It's not just having a healthy economy, its whether the Glory of God is present...


Darwin Salvos has a great connection with African refugees - they come once a month to run and attend an African-style service for Sunday church. Many Aussie Salvos attend these African services and are very welcoming, but there is a deeper challenge inherent in that alone - is merely being 'welcoming' enough?
Superficial friendliness might make people feel happy for a moment, but genuine relationships are what many of them need, relationships with people who can help them find their way in our complex Aussie society.
I'm not sure exactly what that looks like, but I have a hunch that it DOESN'T require us all to get degrees in cross-cultural communication! A heart to learn about their culture and to share our differences - Aussie's are great at BBQ's, why not start there?