CMS Ireland has today said the global refugee situation is much bigger and broader than the story unfolding in Europe and the exodus from Syria.
The mission organisation, which works with the Church of Ireland and partners in Africa and Nepal, is encouraging a response to the European situation.
But a statement issued by CMSI Mission Director Jenny Smyth and Mission Resource Manager Roger Cooke says: “We need to keep shining a light on other parts of the world where people have no place to call home. We also want to highlight the importance of investing in countries that have experienced political instability, to help reduce the need to flee.
The full CMSI statement follows:
A place to call home – CMSI and Refugees
Over recent weeks, we’ve been asked by a number of friends and supporters, “What is CMSI’s response to the current refugee crisis?” The question is understandable. Since mid-August, our international news has been dominated by stories of people on the move: people fleeing abject horror and suffering, people risking everything to make perilous and uncertain journeys, people seeking refuge, safety and a new start for their families.
So, what is CMSI’s response?
What CMSI is saying
In CMSI, we uphold the clear, biblical teaching that compels God’s people to welcome the stranger, to champion the cause of the marginalised and to seek justice, peace and mercy.
Whatever the political issues at play, a ‘Christian response’ to refugees must be characterised by welcome, acceptance, compassion and love and it must involve active, practical support for those who have no place to call home.
As regards the current situation with refugees arriving in Europe, CMSI echoes the recent statement by the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland, in which they ‘continue to urge people to pray, engage with political representatives, and give as they can in response to this crisis.’
However, in CMSI, we want to say that the global refugee situation is much bigger and broader than the story unfolding in Europe and the exodus from Syria. While encouraging a response to those situations, we need to keep shining a light on other parts of the world where people have no place to call home. We also want to highlight the importance of investing in countries that have experienced political instability, to help reduce the need to flee.
As Bishop Masimango Katanda (Kindu Diocese, DR Congo) recently put it:
“This is my home, this is where I feel at home and this is where I love to be…I would not want to live anywhere else, it is not always easy, but it is where I belong.”
People need to have a place to call home. Sometimes, this will require God’s people to welcome the stranger, providing safety and security for those who have had no choice but to ‘leave’. Wherever possible, however, CMSI wants to help people to be able to ‘stay’ where they really want to be.
What CMSI is doing
CMSI has a long history of standing with the Church in parts of the world that are experiencing significant civil unrest and political strife; no more so than in DR Congo and what is now South Sudan.
Very often, our partners in these places – and in neighbouring countries – have sought to respond in active love to those who have been uprooted through violence and fear. The Church in Ireland has helped CMSI’s Global Partners to provide havens of refuge, hope and help.
But, in the context of the global refugee crisis, the most significant thing CMSI can do – the most significant thing we are doing – is to support our Global Partners as they help build more stable societies and make it more likely that people will stay.
In these places of historic conflict and instability, the Church makes a huge contribution to the twin processes of healing and rebuilding. Hope, peace and security grow in any society where God’s people are sharing the values of His Kingdom – which is exactly what our Global Partners continue to do in South Sudan, DR Congo and beyond. They’re actively involved in peacemaking and reconciliation. They’re investing in education, healthcare and community development. They’re helping to provide economic opportunities for people, in their own locations. They’re offering help and hope.
In CMSI, we want to keep supporting all these efforts to build God’s Kingdom and build societies where people can feel safe, secure and valued – places where people can belong.
This is CMSI’s contribution to the global refugee crisis: This is what we’re doing.
Roger Cooke and Jenny Smyth, CMSI
For further information on CMSI’s response to the refugee crisis, visit www.cmsireland.org.