Tuesday, March 29
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PRESBYTERIANs, partners help syrian refugees
PC(USA) offers support for families and aid workers
Additional reporting from WCC
The Syrian refugee crisis drew increased attention late last summer with the heartbreaking photos of a lifeless child’s body being pulled from the Aegean Sea. Alyan Kurdi was one of at least a dozen refugees who drowned while seeking safety from the conflict in Syria. In the ensuing days, thousands more refugees found themselves stranded at a Budapest train station as they sought to cross the border into Austria.
Images out of Hungary showed people either camped out at a local train station, or swiftly running along the tracks toward the border. Witnesses described the station as a place of “disorder and confusion” as families gathered on blankets on the station floor. The railway company suspended all trains leaving the Hungarian capital for transport security reasons.
Police tried to contain the families at the station, yet some broke away to reach the border by foot, nearly 100 miles away. Meantime, Hungarian volunteers are triedto distribute food, water and other supplies to those who continuing to wait.
“In addition to the work we are already doing in Syria and Lebanon, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance continues to support its European partners and members of the ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) as they minister to the large numbers of stranded families,” said the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, PDA coordinator. “Our hearts are broken as we try to stand on every front with those who are suffering. We are working to provide ways for local congregations and individuals to engage in advocacy and hospitality for Syrian refugees and others.”
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, an estimated 2,000 refugees were crossing into Hungary along the southern border each day. Government officials reported they were setting up a “temporary social zone” not far from the train station and asked for technical help for housing units.
Susan Krehbiel, PDA catalyst for Refugees and Asylum, urged prayers for the refugees and and their host countries adding, “at such desperate times, we are thankful for the many European citizens for their heartfelt responses to provide shelter, food and friendship to the families who have risked their lives in search of safety.”
In the first eight months of 2015, more than 100,000 displaced persons from Syria, Northern and Middle Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq have registered in Hungary alone.
“Europe—both West and East—is being tested on the strength of its commitment to human dignity and rights. This is a test of our human values and Christian legacy,” said the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit.
Tveit continued, “Today the countries of Europe are confronted with the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. But compassion and action seem to be tragically insufficient to meet the pressing need. This is so despite the tragedies reported daily from the shores and borders of Europe —let alone from the countries from which these people have been forced to flee by conflict, oppression and extreme poverty.”
“Taking responsibility for human beings in desperate need must be done without discrimination on any criteria other than their needs. We are shocked to hear of some countries rejecting refugees on the basis of their religion.”
The WCC general secretary went on to say that the “WCC encourages churches in countries of arrival, transit and ultimate destination in their efforts to welcome the stranger, and to model a compassionate response to people in such desperate need.”
“We need ecumenical cooperation in these efforts, in order to ensure that they make the greatest possible contribution to alleviating this terrible suffering,” Tveit added.
Rick Jones, communications strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
John 20:19–31 (NIV)
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.