Thursday, January 21, 2016

Three Things All Refugees Must Understand

An interesting article from about refugees. This follows this post about the papacy. For a free magazine subscription or to get the books recommended for free click HERE! or call 1-888-886- 8632.

Refugees are in the news. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people are streaming out of the Middle East looking for a new home. Their plight is heart-rending from a humanitarian standpoint. Their plight is worsened by unsavory terrorist elements in their midst who could do great harm to the people in the countries that accept them.
Spiritually, we have also been or maybe still are refugees. We are wandering on this chaotic earth trying to find “home” to understand who we are and what our destiny is.
My life started as a World War II refugee. I am very grateful that my family found a home and that I have been so blessed to live in the United States. But I need to tell you three things that refugees must understand.
My parents were slave laborers working in Germany during World War II. They were forcibly taken by German invaders in Ukraine in the Barbarossa campaign in 1942 and forced to work in German factories. They were both in their teens and found themselves in Magdeburg, west of Berlin.
After the war they did not want to return to the USSR because they saw how cruelly the Russians were treating those who worked in Germany, no matter that it was against their will. My parents escaped from the Russian occupiers in what became East Germany and found their way to the city of Hannover in the British Zone of occupied Germany. There they came upon a United Nations refugee camp that was to be their home for the next four years.
They were married there in 1945. I was born in 1947. Times were very hard for them. Food was strictly rationed, and many children were malnourished, including myself. Mortality among little children was high. They were hoping, hoping, hoping for some country to take them in. They were looking to Canada, Australia, the United States and Latin American countries to take them in. One after another, each country said “No,” and they had to wait, wait, and wait some more, all while remaining as citizens of no country.
Finally after four years they decided to take their chances and go back home to Ukraine. But they received immediate word from their parents: “Don’t Come Back! There is nothing here for you. You will not be welcome, and you and your son may be killed.”

1. Refugees must have a sponsor

In an extraordinary turn of events at about the same time, an invitation to come to the United States came from a sponsor! Through friends of friends and distant relatives, a University of Minnesota professor of Ukrainian origin offered sponsorship for our young family: my father, age 25, my mother, age 23, and myself, age 2.
In July 1949 we came over on a troop transport from Bremerhaven to New York and disembarked at Ellis Island with thousands of others. Immediately in New Jersey we boarded a train that took us to Faribault, Minnesota, where my Dad had a job waiting for him at an apple orchard. Then after a year they moved one hour’s drive north to St. Paul, Minnesota, where my father became an automotive mechanic.
My parents always showed the greatest gratitude towards Dr. Granowsky, our sponsor, and instructed us children to always display the highest courtesy towards him when we saw him. He was our “savior.”

2. Refugees must adopt and adapt

When I started kindergarten my parents worked hard towards becoming naturalized citizens. They were required to learn English. They had to understand the three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial. (That’s where I first learned it when my parents quizzed each other about this.) They had to know who their congressman and senators were. On and on it went. In order to become American citizens, they had to understand what it meant to be an American and to know this country’s language and be subject to its government.

3. Refugees must take on a new identity—they cannot look back

Finally in second grade at age 7, I, too, went to the courthouse and became a naturalized American citizen. Before that I was nothing: no documents except for a birth certificate printed on newsprint. But then I became an American citizen! My second grade class held a party for me, and we all celebrated me becoming an American. My teacher told me that I will be doing things the way they do them in America, not the way they were done where I came from. Our family had to look ahead. They could not return to the society they came from.
These life’s lessons have been imprinted on me for more than 60 years.
My parents continued to work hard, providing well for their family of five children. I never recall them taking any kind of welfare or government support. They earned their keep.
How different it is now where refugees coming over. In recent decades many have neglected or refused to learn English. They have limited understanding and interest about how we’re governed. They often want to live by their own codes and traditions.

We are all refugees seeking citizenship in God’s Kingdom

Spiritually, we have also been or maybe still are refugees. We are wandering on this chaotic earth trying to find “home” to understand who we are and what our destiny is.
But God has provided us with a sponsor: Jesus Christ. He has redeemed us from the world. He has brought us from refugee status to a spiritual land of security and eternal salvation.
In God’s process of gaining citizenship to His Kingdom, we must adopt His ways and laws. Before we were either lawless or living under oppressive laws. Both are unacceptable.
Finally, as spiritual refugees, we take on a new identity. We represent and live in the Kingdom of God. In our process of repentance we renounce what we used to be. The Bible is the story of God providing a refuge for lost refugees. In this sanctuary He shows us a way of life and gives us a new identity that we we would not trade anything for. There is nothing to go back for.
The apostle Peter proclaims this about becoming a Christian: “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10, New International Version).
And look at the highlight scripture in the book of Ruth: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16, NIV). Ruth migrated to Israel and took on a new identity, leaving behind her Moabite roots.
The story of the current refugees in the news has brought back my recollection of how my parents and I became citizens of the United States. While I am grateful to have been a redeemed refugee from post World War II Europe, I am far more grateful for having found a new land with all its benefits as a Christian.
I invite you to read Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion. If you feel you are wandering with no spiritual home, this booklet will help you find a new country with a waiting sponsor.
I invite you to write to me at and share your thoughts about the subject of refugees. I’m very interested in what you have to say.

You might also be interested in...

This obscure individual may have had a profound impact on what you think is...
Why does it seem an all-powerful God appears powerless in a world of hate,...

No comments: