I was shocked to hear of some of the responses from some in our community to the current crisis. Whilst many are filled with compassion and are desperate for a way to share their care and concern. Others are hard hearted and strongly opposed to any efforts to support any of the refugees. There are lots of reasons for this which I don't want to get into. But in conversation with my own children it is obvious they are aware of these competing views, they have friends who hold them and so they tend to keep quiet when the issue comes up. But we need to be equipping and enabling our young people and children to stand and be compassionate, to be advocates against the misinformation and misunderstandings of children who unthinkingly have adopted what mum and/or dad say, or what their friends has parroted to them.
As the church we cannot assume children or adults know what the Biblical response is, we need to teach on this and now, not when it next come up in our preaching series. As churches we need to be rational in explaining what the need is and how it has come about. We need to be clear what a refugee is and why they are fleeing from their homeland. We need to be theologically robust in showing how our Father feels about the refugee and how as his beloved rescued and redeemed children grace compels us to feel and act. We also need to be practically providing ways to respond to the crisis, getting involved on the ground as we can (see Home for Good's website where you can sign up to temporarily foster an unaccompanied minor refugee, contact your local authority and encourage them to take refugees) and fund raising for those we cannot reach to touch but can support in other ways (Open Doors have a great project).
In terms of involving children Project Paddington, which you can find on Facebook, is another way of doing so. It helps provide children with a tangible way they can show their care and do their bit to help. It also helps them see that compassion is not inactive but practically reaches out to meet needs.