2018: The Year of the Migrant

In the midst of the joyous celebration of Christmas there is a backdrop of suffering around the globe in the form of migrants.

Studies indicate that there are as many as 65 million migrants, immigrants, refugees and displaced people in the world today. More than half of them are under the age of 18.

There are many reasons why people leave their homes, including war, persecution, weather disasters, genocide, and terrorism. For the most part, migrants experience extreme poverty, disease, dangerous travel, unbelievable conditions of hunger, cold, lack of medical attention and sanitation. Sadly, many times they also face hurtful bias and discrimination from the countries that both receive them and reject them.

Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch

As the people of God we cannot turn a blind eye to this suffering. I would like for us all to observe 2018 as the “Year of the Migrant” in the Philadelphia Episcopal Area. I ask that every church do at least one thing to help mitigate this global crisis.

Your donations can be sent to UMCOR. (Learn more on UMCOR’s website and from a May 2017 UM News Service article, “Church response to migration gets boost.”) Churches can engage in studies about global migration issues. We can speak to our lawmakers about the situation, and even help to settle and welcome migrants and refugees in our areas and communities. Several of our churches are already doing this kind of work, and they could use more help from more donors and volunteers.

Remember that when we help migrants and sojourners in need we are helping Jesus, the Savior whose birth we welcome at Christmas time.  Even he and his holy family became refugees in Egypt to escape the terror of murderous King Herod.

Jesus said “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me….truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:35, 40)

I pray that you and your church will have a heart for this critical ministry. What will your church do in 2018 to reach out, welcome others in, and help with the global crisis among desperate migrants? Please let us know.