27 Nov What a Refugee Taught Us…
Derek, one of our team was discipling a young refugee. He is a former Muslim, and Derek mentioned that for 3 weeks in a row this new believer kept asking to talk about Joseph at the end of Genesis. Why?
We began to look at the parallels to refugee’s stories.
• They were both forced by circumstances from home – to a place they don’t want to be.
• Each is alone – without status, language, relationships, provision or safety.
• Experiencing fear, loneliness and vulnerability, they are each at the mercy of others.
• They have with them what they could carry. They’ve lost everything and are starting over.
• Often they are suffering, accused of things they have not done, not welcomed or trusted – and wonder if anyone knows or cares.
• Their identity is totally shattered. At home they knew who they were within the family and cultural context — but now — ???
More than likely you’ve quoted Joseph’s words to his brothers, as I have many times. When he reveals himself as their brother, he immediately reassures them. In both Gen 45 & 50 he lets them know “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
Why had I never before seen the purpose statement that follows? With fresh eyes now, we discover the rest of Joseph’s words. He tells his brothers that it was actually God that sent him — for the salvation of many — that many might live — to preserve a remnant of God’s people. There was a greater purpose in the suffering, the pain and injustices. This is a beautiful picture of God’s choosing a person to endure loneliness, hardship that bore life-giving fruit. The fruit of the pain was ‘blessing’. Through it, God’s chosen people were saved through the famine years. That blessing was also for Joseph’s host nation, as well as other surrounding nations that came to Egypt for food. This is a multi-nation saving of life because Joseph was chosen and sent ahead of his kinsman on an extremely hard refugee journey.
Think of the power of God’s purposes in it all. Regularly, we heard from refugees who found Christ because of their hard journey – or got acquainted with the Joseph story — “You mean there is purpose in my pain?” It is Joseph’s story that makes meaning of their story!
As believers, we must understand that God has always worked this way. He disperses people at times to places where there is more light and access to the good news. They are then prepared to take it back to their own nations, to other nations and bless their host nation as well. When we understand God’s purposes, we disciple to that end – while at the same time aiding & showing compassion. They endure much – intended for the blessing of the nations. Why would we not jump in with all our might — joining God — for it is God Himself who has scattered them?