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Blog // Thoughts
June 20, 2005

It Takes Courage

Today is World Refugee Day and the UNHCR has chosen to focus on the theme of courage. I fully support UN Commisioner Antonio Gutierrez words, “While every refugee’s story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage ‚Äì the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and […]

Today is World Refugee Day and the UNHCR has chosen to focus on the theme of courage. I fully support UN Commisioner Antonio Gutierrez words,

“While every refugee’s story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage ‚Äì the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives.

That is why we have chosen “Courage” as the theme of this year’s World Refugee Day on June 20th, when we pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of tens of millions of refugees and displaced who have overcome enormous loss and hardship to start anew.

Fortunately, most of us go through life never having to confront the kind of fear that forces people, “ordinary people just like us,” to flee their homeland. Leaving behind everything that is familiar, everything that is dear, refugees face an uncertain future in unfamiliar surroundings. Imagine the courage it takes to face the prospect of months, years, or possibly even a lifetime, in exile.”

It never ceases to amaze me when Christians buy into the rhetoric of nationalism and anti-immigrant/anti-refugee politics. When I read my Bible it is clearly an extended discourse on refuge and migration; from the exodus and exile of the Old Testament, to Jesus’ own exile as a child and the travels of Paul in the New Testament. Moreover, there are many smaller exiles and travels. These create an important image of mobilty and faith and in the end culminate in the notion that believers should understand themselves as aliens and strangers in this world.

If we understand refugees and immigrants as courageous, challenges us to pay more attention to their actual stories. It also challenges us to be more honest about the role of immigration in the foundation of religious traditions and modern nations.

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