The arrival in Europe of massive numbers of Middle Eastern refugees is causing crises for humanitarian organizations and churches as well as for governments. At such a time, scripture draws us to Matthew 25:35b: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” Jesus said in a sermon about the behavior he expects of those whose lives reflect the grace and love of God.
The thousands of displaced persons pouring out of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and various parts of Africa into Europe put a tremendous strain on regional and global economics, political and social systems, and human compassion. Christians know our responsibility: Welcome the stranger, and that can be a tough mandate, difficult and risky, demanding of sober realism, and also full of potential for new insights and understandings about human and cultural relations.
United Methodists are wondering and asking the General Board of Global Ministries about how The United Methodist Church in Europe and at the international level is responding to the migration crisis. The information below is an attempt to respond to the most-common questions and concerns.
Scope of the Crisis
The thousands of people entering Europe include war refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants seeking better ways of life. Nation states treat each of these groups differently. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 14) and various United Nations protocols on refugees put responsibility on nations to accept and assist persons seeking asylum when facing death or loss of freedom at home. Host countries are expected to recognize the right of asylum, allow safe entry and/or passage, and provide long-term needs for work, education, legal aid, and documents for travel. The church and other humanitarian organizations try to serve all who stand in need.