14th June, 2014

Churches around the globe are being encouraged to remember the plight of refugees around the world over the next two Sundays.

World Refugee Sunday is being held on 15th or 22nd June while in Australia, National Refugee Week runs over the same period.

More than 45 million people around the world have been forced to flee from their homes due to war, violence and persecution.

Tom Albinson, World Evangelical Alliance ambassador for refugees and displaced people, says the church has been given a mandate to love "the alien" by God in verses such as Leviticus 19:34.

"The world around us is hoping that we will live up to our calling so that those who have been uprooted find a safe place in which they can find community, healing and hope."

"It might require us to move out of our comfort zone to respond to the needs of refugees in our communities, to pray with them, offer them our friendship and welcome them into our churches and homes. But God is often at work in profound ways in and through the lives of uprooted people, and He will likely use refugees to enrich our faith and lives as we develop relationships together."

Mr Albinson says the Bible is full of stories of people of faith who were displaced. "Jesus Himself was once a refugee, with His family having to flee to Egypt not long after He was born."

The World Evangelical Alliance and Refugee Highway Partnership have prepared a number of resources for churches to use which can be found here. For more on National Refugee Week in Australia, see www.refugeeweek.org.au.

- DAVID ADAMS