The Future of Refugee Resettlement

A staggering number of adults and children around the world have fled their homes due to conflict, persecution, or famine. The most recent figure numbers displaced people at 79.5 million worldwide. The average refugee spends 17 years in a refugee camp before resettlement. For many this means 17 years of living in a tent. Yet the U.S. recently announced that for fiscal year 2021, which started October 1, 2020, the country will welcome a maximum of 15,000 refugees.

The Refugee Act of 1980 began the United States’ engagement in offering a new home to refugees. That year the U.S. welcomed well over 200,000 refugees. This year’s cap of 15,000 ensures that our refugee admissions will dip to a historic low in 2021.

Perhaps you feel comfortable with that number, considering the global struggle to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare systems and economies groan. The abundance of many countries has been replaced with scarcity.

But what plan does God give people who face scarcity? Several examples give us a clue. After a widow used the last of her flour and oil to feed a prophet, she and her son never went hungry (I Kings 17:7-16). A boy with a lunch for one gave it to Jesus and the Savior used it to feed thousands (Matthew 14:13-21).

In light of these accounts, I pray that Christians advocate for a return to welcoming larger numbers of refugees, not based on our supply, but on God’s. Millions of lives depend on it.

Photo credit: “Refugee camp” by Al Jazeera English is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Beth Barron and her husband have worked cross-culturally for decades, first in the Middle East and now in the U.S. She teaches English to refugees and uses her writing skills to advocate for them. Beth enjoys writing, biking, vegetable gardening and connecting heart to heart with other women. She is involved in her church's External Focus ministry. She and her husband have three adult children, two daughters-in-love and three grandsons. Beth graduated from Rice University in Houston, attended Dallas Theological Seminary and is committed to life-long learning.

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