The Christmas Refugee

Did you ever wonder why Jesus was born in a stable? It wasn’t just coincidence, a lack of planning, or slow travel so that by the time they arrived they just happened to be too late. It wasn’t bad luck that they had to stay in a stable.

God carefully orchestrated this. If for no other purpose, I am convinced it was done so that His invited guests would feel right at home when they came to worship.

Only a certain few were invited. What an invitation it was!  “. . . the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!’ When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, that the Lord has made known to us.’  So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-16

No need for shame or feeling out of place in the grandeur of a palace, The King of kings chose a stable where they would feel right at home and welcomed when He entered into their world. So they arrived with joy to find the babe tucked inside a simple manger.

In like manner, it is not a coincidence that the Christmas story ends with Joseph’s family fleeing to a foreign country in order to save the life of the new born King. “. . . As they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother, they bowed down and worshiped Him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  After being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back by another route to their own country.

 After they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the Child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to look for the Child to kill Him.’ Then he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and went to Egypt.  He stayed there until Herod died. In this way what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet was fulfilled: ‘I called my Son out of Egypt.’” Matthew 2:10-15 NET Bible

How many people hear the Christmas story yet never consider that maybe the reason He was born in a stable was because the only visitors invited were shepherds? Who bothers to teach that in His plan to show that He understand every dire need of every heart, the Christ Child would Himself flee as a refugee and choose to be a foreigner both abroad and at home?

As our world is inundated with refugees and third culture kids let us realize that Jesus too was a refugee and a third culture kid.  He knows their needs and has lived in their circumstances.

The next time we see a foreigner, speak to someone who can’t quite understand English, or struggle with the customs of a neighbor that differ from our own, let’s remember that Jesus was a refugee, a third culture kid, a foreigner to many. If we remember what Jesus said, “When you do it unto the least of these you have done it unto me,” perhaps we will treat them like Jesus wanted to be treated when He was in their shoes.

Suzi Ciliberti works for Christar, a Missions Agency that plants churches among least-reached Asians worldwide. She served in Japan for two years as a single missionary and another nine with her husband and two children, then the family returned to the states. She and her husband have been serving in the US Mobilization Center since 2000. As a part of the Member Care Department, Suzi is consultant to families with children. She has been working as a children’s teacher since she was 17 and began her training under Child Evangelism Fellowship. She has taught in the church, as a school teacher for two years in a Christian elementary school, and as a speaker for adults training to work with children. She has also trained children, who are a part of families that work overseas, in their identity in Christ. She brings 44 years of teaching experience to her work. She loves creative writing as well as teaching and has found great fulfillment in combining the two as she blogs for Heartprints. She finds it a great privilege and joy to serve the Lord and His people. One of her favorite verses is Deuteronomy 4:10b, "Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children."