According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 82.4 million people world-wide have been forced to flee their homes.¹ Among them, over 26 million are refugees, the highest population on record. As we are witnessing with the war in Ukraine, over 4 million have already fled to Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Moldova, and other bordering countries. Ukrainians are only the latest to join other refugees (from Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Nigeria, and more) scattered throughout the world due to conflict, violence, and persecution.
Cultural identities become increasingly fragile as these individuals are forced to flee and live in a country that is not their homeland. If they are unable or unwilling to return to their home due to persecution or fear for their safety, what becomes of their identity and that of their children?
First Peter 2:9 tells us: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” As believers, we are a part of the family of God, and our identity is in Him. What is amazing is that through this “new” identity, we do not lose our true selves but become our true selves in Him.
Jesus came to announce to us that an identity based on success, popularity, and power is a false identity—an illusion! Loudly and clearly, He says: “You are not what the world makes you, but you are children of God.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen (from Here and Now: Living in the Spirit, Crossroad, 2006)
Our God made us who we are so that we can make known who He is. By making Him known, those who have been displaced from their homeland identity can also have a place in His holy nation and retain their identity―in Him. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are…” (1 John 3:1). What a blessing to know that our identity in Christ is secure when all we know has been shaken! May our prayers continue to be that, around the corner and around the world, others will have that secure identity as well.
by Trusha Barner, Director of Missions
¹Source: UNHCR Global Trends 2020