A matter of the heart
October 6, 2021
In the space of a week, I had conversations with two former refugees who've been living in Canada for more than five years. One used to be Muslim. Both became born-again Christians in Canada. Both love God, are profoundly grateful for being here, have had considerable support from the Church, appear to be doing well and have loving families. But it's not easy. I learned they both have issues with their hearts caused by stress. There's past trauma, fear of their children catching COVID at school, family members in tenuous circumstances back home, the stress of constantly communicating in a new language learned as adults, student debt, and challenges navigating the English-medium digital world to apply for jobs, relate to government, make appointments and - well, to do just about everything.
Another wave of refugees is arriving, but Canada has changed since the previous waves. Interaction with the Afghans will be hampered by COVID safety requirements. The Church (not to mention the nation) is distracted and divided around appropriate responses to the pandemic and many other issues. Cultural differences between Afghans and the West are extreme. It's not going to be easy to be hosts or to be newcomers.
However, God is once again presenting the Church with an opportunity. The bottom line is that these Afghan refugees are among the harassed and helpless that His heart finds irresistible: "I tell you...there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent" (Luke 15:1-7 and Matthew 9:36). On the evening after the impossible event of the resurrection, Jesus told His disciples, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you", and then He breathed on them His Holy Spirit (John 20:21-22). With Him, all things are possible.
For incoming Afghan refugees:
- Thank You God for bringing Afghan refugees to Canada! May each one upon their arrival be greeted by Christians with an anointing of love and kindness that disarms them and opens their hearts to receive more of You at a later time. Provoke the Church to act quickly, before the newcomers settle into familiar communities.
- Lord, assign angels to serve those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Open their hearts to recognize and receive Your love and truth.
- May the various Afghan people groups experience here the freedom to worship You authentically, as you designed them to glorify the Lamb on the Throne.
For Christians who work among Muslims and other believers God is calling to love and serve the Afghan newcomers:
- Pray from Galatians 6:9: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
- After decades of war, Afghans do not trust people. May we worshippers of Jesus prove ourselves trustworthy ministers to them.
- May we impart to them faith and hope and demonstrate the love (1 Corinthians 13:13) that caused the Father to send the Son (John 3:16) and the Son to send His disciples (John 20:21) into the world.