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Part 3: Refugees (Strangers in a strange land) 25 January 2009 T HINGS WE DON ’ T TALK ABOUT.

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Presentation on theme: "Part 3: Refugees (Strangers in a strange land) 25 January 2009 T HINGS WE DON ’ T TALK ABOUT."— Presentation transcript:

1 Part 3: Refugees (Strangers in a strange land) 25 January 2009 T HINGS WE DON ’ T TALK ABOUT

2 T HERE ARE SOME THINGS WE JUST DON ’ T TALK ABOUT  Among these are:  Religion and politics (just don’t go there please!)  Environmental concerns (that’s for greenies)  The world of work and industrial relations(umm… unions and bosses)  War (a necessary evil?)  Asylum seekers (aka ‘illegal immigrants’)  Changing the world (oh so you are Miss Universe?)  Tax (yeah we pay too much)  Indigenous issues (tell me who they are again)  The intersection of these things with Christian faith just doesn’t seem to get traction among many Christian or non- Christian leaders Recap

3 H AVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE A STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND ?  Where everything is different  No family to depend on  Strange language  Stranger customs  You don’t belong  Religion that seems to make no sense And how might it feel if you were a stranger in your own land? Displaced, rejected, treated with disdain, discriminated against, scorned, even persecuted?

4 SOME DEFINITIONS  Migrants  people who move to a foreign country for a variety of reasons  Refugees  People who are outside their country of nationality or habitual residence, and have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion  Asylum seekers  Someone who has made a claim that he or she is a refugee, and is waiting for that claim to be accepted or rejected.  Internally Displaced Persons  Someone who has been forced to move from his or her home – because of conflict, persecution… Unlike refugees, however, IDPs remain inside their own country.  Stateless persons  Someone who is not considered as a national by ANY state Source: UNHCR, 2008, Protecting refugees and the role of UNHCR: 2007-2008, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva. Retrieved January 2009, from

5 R EFUGEES IN A USTRALIA Category96-9797-9898-9999-0000-0101-0202-0303-0404-0505-0606-07 Refugee33304010399038004000416043764134551160226003 Special Humanitarian Program (SHP)25804640435030503120426072808927675568365275 Special Assistance Category (SAC)3730182011906508804000000 Onshore Humanitarian00001601032171438 Onshore Refugees22501590183024605580389086678889512721701 Total1189012060113609,96013740123601252513851131781414413017 Source: Refugee Council of Australia, 2008. Australia's Refugee Program: Facts + Stats. Retrieved January 2009, from

6 A SYLUM SEEKERS IN A USTRALIA IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT Country of applicationApplications 2007 New Zealand248 Australia3971 Canada28342 United Kingdom27905 France29158 United States of America49298 Total claims in 44 Industrialised countries330814 Worldwide740000 At the beginning of 2007, the number of people of concern to UNHCR was a record 32.9 million. They included: 9.9 million refugees 12.8 million internally displaced People 5.8 million stateless people 2.6 million returned refugees and IDPs 740,000 asylum seekers 1,000,000 ‘others of concern’ to UNHCR. Field Information and Coordination Support Section/UNHCR Geneva (, 2008, Last updated: 30 December 2008, Table 1. New asylum applications lodged in selected countries in Europe, North America, Oceania and Asia, 2008, Spreadsheet, Retrieved January 2009, from UNHCR, 2008, Protecting refugees and the role of UNHCR: 2007-2008, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva. Retrieved January 2009, from

7 The danger with these labels is that they promulgate a general fear of refugees: that they will take over our Australian way of life; they will steal our jobs; they will terrorise us. There are sometimes good political reasons for promoting these views (as we saw blatantly with the Tampa affair in 2001) but these views are neither ethical, true and certainly not biblical. If we accept these views we run the risk of being justifiably labelled as: L ABELLING REFUGEES  Queue jumpers  Illegal immigrants or ‘illegals’  Detainees  Bogus asylum seekers  Terrorists  Racist  Xenophobic

8 A USTRALIAN GOVERNMENT RESPONSES OVER THE YEARS  The ‘Pacific Solution’  $1 billion for what?  Detention Centres  309 people detained in 5 IDCs (including 107 on Christmas Island) There have been several criticisms of Detention Centres over the years. These include: Children being detained Unreasonably long times for cases to be heard Mental and physical health concerns Human rights and children’s rights violations

9 G OD ’ S RESPONSE TO REFUGEES  Lev 24:22 You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God.  Mat 22:36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: " `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.“  Zec 7:9 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: `Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’ Foundational principles: Justice Mercy Compassion Righteousness Human dignity

10 M ADE IN G OD ’ S IMAGE “Thus, all human rights are at base the right to be human, and so to enjoy the dignity of having been created in God’s image and of possessing in consequence unique relationships to God himself, to our fellow human beings and to the material world”. (Stott et al. 2006:199) At the core of God’s response to the plight of refugees is the fact that He has made all of us equal. What special privileges have we got as hosts of our fellow human beings who are aliens in a strange land? Stott, J McCloughry, R and Wyatt, J, 2006, Issues Facing Christians Today, 4th Edition, Zondervan, Grand Rapids. Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.“ GE 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

11 O UR RESPONSE ?  What can we do?  Speak out against untruth, injustice and unfairness (especially when it comes from those who should know better)  Look for God’s image in all people  Celebrate difference rather than sameness  Look wisely at the political motivations behind government actions and vote accordingly  Take time to put yourself in another person’s shoes  Look for opportunities to proclaim the gospel in its fullness to those who are strangers and ‘aliens’ Our voice might be small, but when we have the opportunity let’s shout out loud, especially when we hear words that denigrate and vilify others, when the rights that we ourselves would expect are clearly denied, and when we see a perversion of God’s justice, mercy and righteousness perpetrated for the sake of political expediency.

12 P EOPLE OF FAITH Heb 11 :13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Abel Enoch Noah Abraham Isaac Jacob Joseph Moses Rahab Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets

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