People without a home: streams of refugees in Europe

Many millions of people around the world are refugees. Many of them flee their countries for fear of terrorism and out of concern for life and limb. Helping them when they arrive in their new country is an expression of active charity.

According to estimates from the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are approximately 60 million people around the world who are currently displaced. This is the highest figure that has ever been recorded by the UNHCR. This means that an average of 42,500 people are fleeing their countries of origin every day—in search of peace, security, and a new life. They include elderly people, children, and entire families. They have lost everything: their homes, their possessions, and all too often people close to them. On the occasion of World Refugee Day on 20 June, we at took a look inside the refugee camps of East Africa. A very touching story emerged.

Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider, the international leader of the New Apostolic Church, made some clear statements against violence, xenophobia, and hatred in a divine service in Luxembourg on 11 January 2015. Terrorism in Northern Africa and in the Middle East has led to a refugee influx of unprecedented scale. Already in his opening prayer, Chief Apostle Schneider prayed for all victims of violence, “We pray for all people who are in deep need. We pray for those who have become victims of injustice.” And he went on to pray especially for all people who are in great danger owing to their faith. “People are trying to harm or even kill them, just because they have a different faith. This is of concern to us.”

They are victims of injustice

The guests in attendance at this divine service in Luxembourg at the time included high-ranking clergymen of various religions and denominations. During a gathering after the divine service, Chief Apostle Schneider expressed his thanks to them for their attendance, and declared his solidarity with all victims of racism and intolerance, whether Jewish, Muslim, or Christian.

In a letter sent out to the members of the District Church of North Rhine-Westphalia, District Apostle Rainer Storck likewise stressed the importance of charity and support for others. “The state government in Düsseldorf estimates that some 100,000 refugees and asylum seekers will come to North Rhine-Westphalia alone by the end of the year. This will result in some special challenges for our society, which will not bypass us as a church,” he expressed in his letter to the congregations.

Many collective efforts

Many collective efforts have already begun, including donations of clothes and money, offers of accommodation, language lessons, and assistance in dealing with the authorities. “I welcome this greatly and encourage more of the same,” writes District Apostle Storck concerning this. “Above and beyond all our intercessions in prayer, such personal care as an act of Christian charity is a matter of course.” He went on to add that New Apostolic Christians also demonstrate their solidarity through such efforts. “We stand opposed to any and all forms of xenophobia.”

In his letter, the Church leader recommends working together with local aid organizations or the aid initiatives that have since been established in many areas. He goes on to note that it is also advisable to get into contact with local authorities for information on the need for help, in order to thereby assess the ways in which it may be possible to provide support.

All the District Apostles are giving similar instructions. All over Europe, New Apostolic congregations have declared their solidarity with these people who have fallen on hard times. Significant assistance has been provided in all District Churches. While the terms ‘migrant’ or ‘immigrant’ often sound very technical, the reality is that these are people in bitter poverty, who are all too often struggling for their very survival.

To lend a helping hand is to show solidarity

NAK-karitativ, an aid agency of the New Apostolic Churches in Europe, is appealing for donations. Their website states that an enormous number of people are currently being forced to flee their home countries as a result of persecution, war, or hunger. They come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and other similarly unstable countries in Africa. “When they flee their home countries, they are often dependent on criminal smugglers who charge exorbitant fees to bring them to Europe. These people arrive in the south of Europe completely exhausted, often abused, and robbed of all their possessions.”

Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider has expressed deep concern over these conditions, “We are not interested in using our assistance in order to highlight our Church affiliation. Rather, it is completely natural for us to practise charity and empathy with others in obedience to the gospel!”

Let us pray for these people, let us give them our assistance, and let us declare our solidarity with them.

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