Last Christmas I heard a speaker brother say in his sermon that the door of the stable where Jesus was born is still open. That was like a powerful reminder that made me think of a service guest who had come from the other side of the world as an asylum seeker. Believing friends had asked him to come to services. He did not possess the grace of forgiveness yet, but services were a welcome break in his oppressively monotonous daily life.
Europe has recently experienced an exceptionally large wave of migration. There are more refugees in the world now than at any other time after the Second World War. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, nearly 60 million people had left their homes by the end of 2014 because of war, persecution, and violence. Finland and the other EU member states are obligated by international agreements to allow the entry of asylum seekers in need of international protection.
Many people feel distrustful or even hostile toward these migrants. But we should remember that there have been refugees throughout the history of mankind. God’s word encourages us to show love toward all neighbors. God has created all people in His own image.
This mass migration is not a random phenomenon but part of God’s big plan. As we read in the Psalms: All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. This means all days of all people, even asylum seekers. Many people are seeking temporal peace, some are seeking peace for their soul. Many have already found the living faith and have wanted to believe their sins forgiven. There is joy for this in heaven.
Asylum seekers leave their home country for many reasons, mostly because of war, persecution, and violence. Most of those who choose to escape end up close to their home area. Some others seek asylum in different parts of the world, including Europe and even Finland. The destination of an individual asylum seeker depends on a number of factors, including the route they travel, their knowledge of the country of destination, or the place where their family members have happened to settle.
The situation of asylum seekers has caused many Finns to be helpful, though there have also been different attitudes. These rootless migrants need a lot of help and support even in basic everyday matters. We all have an opportunity to help them get settled in their new environment. Let us join our forces. Let us give them all wings that will carry them along in life. If we have the courage to offer them faith and the gospel, God may give growth to the seed we have sown.
The door to the stable where Jesus was born is still open. God is calling people through the upheavals of nations, as the scriptures are coming true. We sing about this in a song of Zion (539) written by Niilo Rauhala:
Our native land is far away. Now in another land we stay. We don’t forget our land of birth, no matter where we stay on earth.
Father, as you have led us here, give us your wisdom, love, and care. Show us a way to serve all men, each day to help and profit them.
May we establish friendships new, may we be friendly neighbors, too. Your loving presence stays with us; in grace alone we hope and trust.
The blog post was published in online Päivämies on 6 Dec. 2016
Poikkeusolojen vuoksi radion ja netin välityksellä lähetetyt Suviseurat saivat kuulijoiden palautteen perusteella positiivisen vastaanoton. Historiallisten Suviseurojen järjestelyt sujuivat suunnitelmien mukaisesti, eikä suurempia häiriöitä ilmennyt. Seurojen keskeinen sanoma välittyi kaikkialle maailmaan ja seurapuheet käännettiin yhdeksälle kielelle.