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The latest AspenWind prayer letter from RCA general secretary Tom De Vries.
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I Was a Stranger

Don’t mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.  (Leviticus 19:33-34, CEV)
 
Don’t forget to extend your hospitality to all—even to strangers—for as you know, some have unknowingly shown kindness to heavenly messengers in this way. (Hebrews 13:2 VOICE)
 
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:35-40 NLT)
It may have been a single tweet posted on Twitter that changed the lives of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. It was the online statement – just 83 characters – by the Federal Office of Migration and Refugees in Nuremburg, Germany, that sent a wave of hope and opened the doors of the world to people trying to escape the war and oppression of their homeland and find a place of safety and peace.
 
The tweet simply stated:
“We are at present largely no longer enforcing Dublin procedures for Syrian citizens.” 
(http://www.wsj.com/articles/obscure-german-tweet-help-spur-migrant-march-from-hungary-1441901563)
Refugees are not just coming from Syria. They are also coming in large numbers from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Eritrea. More than 300,000 people just this year are seeking to flee from poverty and violence and discover a new life. There are a total of 4 million Syrian refugees that have now left Syria.
 
As Christians, we are called to be a part of the solution to this crisis, not stand on the sidelines. The Bible has much to say about helping the oppressed, the stranger, and the refugee.
 
The RCA is working to be part of the solution. Many of the refugees are in Hungary. We are partnering with the Reformed Church in Hungary whose congregations are on the frontlines of bringing help and hope. Dick and Carolyn Otterness, our mission co-workers in Hungary, are actively involved in responding to the critical needs of these refugees.
 
The Hungarian Reformed Church has declared:
In the current situation it is our common responsibility to alleviate people’s neediness regardless of gender, religion or nationality.    (http://reformatus.hu/mutat/11275/)
We join them in helping to bear this common responsibility to care for widows and orphans, and those that are strangers in new lands.
 
The RCA is also engaged in Turkey as many of the refugees from Syria and Iraq are traveling there to find greater security. We have RCA mission co-workers on the ground in Turkey, and we are also partnering with the Association of Protestant Churches as they reach out to receive and respond to the thousands of refugees who are daily crossing borders to safety.
 
In addition to these commitments, we are also partnering with World Vision and Church World Service to bring relief in places of confusion and crisis, of inhumanity and need.
 
Our common commitment as Christians is to pray for these refugees and the conditions under which they are escaping; to pray for the conflict and violence that is the cause of this mass migration; to pray for open doors in the European Union, in the United States, and in Canada that will welcome the stranger and also share and show the love of Christ.
 
We also want to give – to provide financial assistance and support for food, water, shelter, clothing, blankets, and more as many of these refugees are leaving behind all the necessities of life and home to find safety.
 
Please encourage your church to take an offering in the next few weeks to help provide relief to refugees. You may also participate personally on the RCA webpage by giving online: https://www.rca.org/mission/refugees
 
As we respond out of our faith, and share with love, it will give hope to many who need to experience the hope that Jesus Christ can give as we respond in his name.
. . . when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!  (Matthew 25:45)
Tom
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