Europe (MNN) — The proverbial migrant crisis can has reached the end of the road. Now is the time to act, the European Union (EU) declared recently.
Though they’ve been “kicking the can down the road” all summer, leaders of 28 EU member nations will be gathering in an emergency meeting September 14 to figure out how they’ll deal with the migrant crisis.
British, French, and German authorities are calling for cooperation from all EU members, while Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary stand opposed to the redistribution of migrants.
“It’s nothing new,” Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response (BGR), says of the migrant crisis.
“It is accelerating and coming to the forefront now [with] Syria and northern Iraq driving a lot of this.”
The migrant crisis of 2015
Reportedly the largest migrant crisis since WWII, over 300,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year seeking safe haven in Europe.
Approximately 2,400 men, women and children–including the 500 victims of last week’s tragedy near Libya–drowned while trying to make this perilous journey.
Traditionally, the large influxes of foreign populations crowding into European nations are referred to as “migrants” because they’re seeking employment.
Today, as a large percentage of the population is fleeing war and persecution, a more accurate description is often “refugee.”
“They’re coming for various reasons,” explains Palmer. “They’re fleeing persecution; they want to find a better life for their families; there’s all kinds of reasons for why they come.
“North African [migrants/refugees] come through France and Spain, and then the Middle East/Central Asia folks come up through Greece and those places.”
While governments reluctantly begin planning a response to the migrant crisis, local Christians are continuing to act.
“In Europe…we have some refugee centers and ministries [where] we’re helping [refugees] as they make their first landing into the EU,” Palmer says.
In Christ’s name, believers are meeting the tangible needs of refugees with essentials like food, clothing, shelter, and language training.
Making a difference
As local Christians put God’s love into action, refugees take note.
In this interview, Palmer describes how a father reacted when BGR partners arrived at the abandoned building where he and his family were taking shelter.
“He just kept saying, ‘Thank you for the food, but more than anything I want to hear about your God because we have come out, and nobody’s helped us except you who are followers of Christ,’” shares Palmer.
“What a great opportunity for the Church to step in and care for the stranger and make Christ known.”
“As [readers] donate, it allows us to put things in the hands of our partners, and gives them the tools to minister to those in need.”
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