He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

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Friday, May 21, 2010 

Dr. J.D. Payne: Diaspora Missiology – Reaching Refugees

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the leading source for information on the constantly changing world’s refugee population (including Internally Displaced Persons, Stateless Peoples, and Asylum-Seekers). According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, as of 2009, the number of refugees of concern to the UNHCR listed at 10.5 million people. Such refugees are spread across the world. Over half are in Asia and 22% in Africa. Of all of the refugess of concern to the UNHCR, over half are living in urban areas.

Today, we turn our attention to Refugees, particularly those in the United States. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a refugee is someone “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

In the Annual Flow Report (March 2009), Randall Monger and Nancy Rytina, wrote an entry titled, “U.S. Legal Permanent Residents: 2008.” According to them, in 2008, 60,108 people were admitted to the United States as refugees. This number represented a 25% increase from the previous year. The following table displays the arrival by country of nationality.

Burma 18,139
Iraq 13,823
Bhutan 5,320
Iran 5,270
Cuba 4,177
Burundi 2,889
Somalia 2,523
Vietnam 1,112
Ukraine 1,022
Liberia 992
Other 4841

While these numbers in the U.S. represent a small percentage of the global refugee population, it is one more reminder that the peoples of this world are on the move–with millions migrating against their wills.

Such tables are also a reminder that some of the world’s least reached peoples (as refugees) are relocating to the United States (and other western nations). Such peoples are like fish out of water. They are scared, deeply troubled, uprooted, and now have to survive in a strange land. Many have children. Some have lost husbands because of war and persecution. Many do not know English. While refugee services are helpful to these peoples, the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs are enormous.

How will you and your church offer the refugees (some representing the world’s least reached peoples) living in your backyard a cup of cold water and the good news of the hope that only Jesus can provide?

- Dr. J.D. Payne

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