Sometimes I am surprised at the way the Lord speaks to me. A few weeks ago, I attended a prayer meeting in a local church convened by a refugee group. Not only a group of Christians concerned for the plight of refugees in places like Nauru and Manus Island, but believers in living contact with refugees in Australia. The meeting included a bracket of Christ-centred songs, a host of Bible readings, and specific prayer requests with thanksgiving. The prayer requests included various details of petitions for personal visas, and for relatives to enter Australia from overseas. Some were petitions for final appeals against court declarations denying applications for Protection Visas. Astonishingly, in case after case, the applicant was a believer present and praying in our midst.
Understandably, the Australian Government is suspicious of men who arrive from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and so on as Moslems, then claim protection as Christians some time later. Fair enough, but if, for example, you visit the different Persian Fellowships springing up amongst converts across the world, including in Australian cities, no one with the Spirit of God could possibly doubt the integrity of the testimony to Jesus of the worshippers. They are boldly proclaiming Christ and seeing miracle after miracle in their midst! “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” (First letter of John chapter 4 verse 2). Since these are true conversions, what’s really going on behind the prevailing hard-hearted attitude to asylum seekers in Australia.
Matthew cites an Old testament text relating to the status of Jesus as a refugee-child in Egypt, ““Out of Egypt I called my son.”” (Matthew chapter 2 verse 15; Hosea chapter 11 verse 1). This emphasis teaches us that the key to understanding the condition of refugees, in a Christ-centred way, is the Fatherhood of God. Here is our foundational problem. As the late evangelist John Smith used to say, Australia is an analgesic society suffering from a condition of cosmic orphanhood. Psychologically and spiritually, we are largely a fatherless nation at every level. Without questioning Scott Morrison’s Christian commitment, he heads up a government showing no empathy for the condition of refugee converts to Christianity. This is not being a true father in the nation. If forced to return to their countries of origin, or brothers will face persecution from a hostile Islam, and their households will remain fragile and impoverished. We need in leadership a man of God who sees in prayer what Paul saw, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” (Ephesians chapter 3 verse 14-15). We need fathers/mothers in the Lord grasped by the fact that Jesus was the ultimate refugee, exiled from the presence of his Father’s heart on the cross, for us. “My God…why have you forsaken me?” (Mark chapter 15 verse 34).
The scriptures clearly testify that the Lord Jesus is our refuge “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46 verse 1). “we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews chapter 6 verses 18-20). It is possible to spiritualise these texts, but the bald fact is that we have brothers in Christ who are in the direst need of our prayers, and practical support. Unless consistent action is taken across the churches to address this sore, we are surely in dire straits as a nation before God. “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew chapter 7 verse 2)
For as solid biblical-evangelical approach to these issues, and connections across Australia, contact John (email@example.com).
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html