The German publication Der Spiegel runs regular stories describing the escalating refugee crisis in what they call Fortress Europe. In a recent report they said, “Desperate scenes played out here, reminiscent of those witnessed in Hungary back in September.” They described, a group of young men who used a steal beam as a battering ram. “Men could be seen running and children screaming,’ they said.
These scenes are becoming more evident and Christians must be a radiant light in the darkness. The world is in crisis. Living by faith, as a Christian, will mean reaching the lost with the love of God, not in some wishy-washy way but with practical solutions.
As we ponder the facts, it is essential we know God is great. He promises we can do all things, through Him. There have been great champions of the faith and they stood up when the days and times were dark. We now have that opportunity. Read this carefully. Forty per cent of the world’s population will be homeless by 2030. UN Habitat estimate three billion people will need housing in less than fifteen years. 1.6 billion people in our world today live in inadequate shelter. More than 100 million people worldwide are homeless.
In 1985 the UN General Assembly declared the first Monday in October to be World Habitat Day. By UN Habitat calculations 96,150 new affordable housing units are needed every day to meet the need, that is, 4000 every hour. Forty percent means four in ten will have no place to call home in just a few years. I have grandchildren who will be in their teens in 2030.
Charles Dickens helped me embrace the situation. “Bleak, dark, and piercing cold, it was a night for the well-housed and fed to draw round the bright fire, and thank God they were at home; and for the homeless starving wretch to lay him down and die.” (Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist) It is a stark, challenging description.
While the crisis in Europe may seem far removed from us, Homelessness Australia reports one in 200 people are homeless “on any given night.” According to their statistics, an estimated seventeen percent of homeless people in Australia, are under 12, eighteen percent are aged 25-34.
Of ‘people who sleep rough each night’ 67.6 percent are male, 32.4 percent female. One of the major causes of this distress is domestic violence. Our fellow man and woman, boy and girl, are in dire need of love, comfort and support.
The Salvation Army says ‘over 100,000 Australians will be homeless tonight.’ It is serious. “I think homelessness is an absolute tragedy. To know that you don’t belong anywhere, that you have no home to shelter in, and no one to support you. It is one of the most distressing experiences a person can have …The consequence is the quality of life for the whole community is diminished. People will do whatever it takes to survive, including turning to crime if they have to. ”
” As a community, we need to be responsive to people who are homeless, not just for moral and social reasons, but also for the sake of the stability of the entire community,” Major David Eldridge, Salvation Army said.
Reading through these statistics is overwhelming but the numbers represent people who need love and support. We are called to have the mind of Christ. Frankly I was overwhelmed by the details. I turned to a book ‘That Incredible Christian’ by A. W. Tozer: “The Spirit-filled, prayerful Christian actually possesses the mind of Christ, so that his reactions to the external world are the same as Christ’s. He thinks about people and things just as He does.” In the same chapter he wrote: “We must think of the surrounding world of people and things against the background of our thoughts of God.”
Joseph Reuben, singer-songwriter, on his blogsite said: “If it was not for Christian organizations like the Open Door Mission, the Salvation Army, and many others, the homeless would be getting a lot less help than they are. I appreciated every meal and every volunteer that made my life a bit more tolerable when I lived on the streets.
During that time God taught me a lot about myself. One important lesson I learned was that while I was spending a lot of my time complaining about how others were judging me for being homeless, I was judging them for not being homeless. Sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is to show grace to those who judge us.” (word-from-the-street.com)
As we assess the simple mathematics of the refugee and the homeless, surely we are challenged. How will our borders remain secure? How will our culture be affected by the surging tide of humanity seeking a safe-place? How many will seek our harm?
“Christian love draws no distinction between one enemy and another, except that the more bitter our enemy’s hatred, the greater his need of love. Be his enmity political or religious, he has nothing to expect from a follower of Jesus but unqualified love. In such love there is not inner discord between the private person and official capacity. In both we are disciples of Christ, or we are not Christians at all,” wrote World War II hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (The Cost of Discipleship)
God has not been caught unawares in this crisis. The Bible tells us Jesus Christ had no place to lay His head (Luke chapter 9, verse 58). He was a refugee. He relates to homelessness.
Billy Graham reminds us: “The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.”