In our world today, over 68 million people have been forced from their homes due to conflict, including 25 million refugees. In spite of this, in the U.S. we have seen the sharpest decline in refugee resettlement since 1980. And many immigrants—including those seeking the safety of asylum— are fearful about how policy decisions will impact their future in the U.S.
In the face of these realities, there are many ways we can respond. We can advocate, volunteer, learn, talk with friends, or post on social media. These are all good and important responses. But during September, we specifically want to invite you to join us in a response of prayer.
At World Relief, we believe prayer is active resistance to pain, suffering, and evil, as we acknowledge God’s sovereignty in all things and plead with him to intervene in our world. Scott Arbeiter, World Relief’s President says, “In prayer, we rebel against the world as it is. In prayer, we refuse to accept what might seem unchangeable in our own hearts or the world around us.” We believe that prayer actually effects change; we recognize it as a vital way that we can stand with the most vulnerable in our community.
Last week at World Relief DuPage/Aurora, we began a 40-day prayer emphasis. While it is always important to pray, right now we feel a particular urgency to cry out to God. First, we pray because we expect the next month to bring U.S. policy decisions that will affect refugees and immigrants for years to come. But we also pray because we are witnesses to an increasingly hostile environment in which vulnerable people are vilified, and our faith demands that we intercede. All people are made in the image of God and loved by him, and God's word emphasizes his heart for people on the margins. As followers of Jesus, we want to have the same heart.
Each day through the end of September, WRDA’s staff are joining together to pray for refugees around the world and an end to the situations that are forcing people to flee their homes. We are praying that immigrants in the U.S. would find welcome and belonging through local churches and their communities. And we are praying that policies that will impact the lives of countless immigrants and refugees in our community would be marked by wisdom, justice, and compassion.
We are anchoring this season of prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV), which says,
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Would you consider joining us in this season of prayer? If you would like to participate, please consider setting aside time to pray regularly through the end of September.
Here are some specific requests to guide your prayer:
Pray that our country would remain a safe haven for refugees, and that our government would craft policies that focus on family unity and respect each person’s God-given dignity.
Pray that the U.S. would set a goal to welcome 75,000 refugees during the 2019 Fiscal Year.
Pray that refugees and asylum seekers who are still awaiting reunification with their loved ones would be reunited quickly.
Pray that refugees and immigrants who are already living in our communities would experience safety and find support as they rebuild their lives in a place of welcome.
Pray for refugee and asylee children as they grow up living in transit and insecurity without adequate access to education, medical care, and carefree play.
Pray for asylum seekers who are seeking safety through the southern U.S. border, and for protection and just policies that provide opportunities for asylum appeals to be heard.
Pray for God's peace to reign over the earth, especially in places of crisis where people are forced to flee their homes.
Here are some additional resources to help guide your prayer for refugees and immigrants.
Seeking Refuge: A 7-day devotional on God’s heart for refugees
Discovering and Living God’s Heart for Immigrants: A Guide to Welcoming the Stranger
5 Days of Prayer for Dreamers
We are so thankful to be united with people who are regularly praying for immigrants and refugees. And as we see the many ways that our community is growing, lives are changing, and people are learning from one another, we pray with anticipation that God hears our prayers and is at work among us to bring lasting transformation.