Various church leaders frequently have asked for sponsors for Indochinese refugees. And we agree: sponsors are needed.
An estimated 375,000 refugees waited last month in transit camps in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Some observers believe an additional one to two million may attempt to escape from Communist rule. Especially as the mass media loses interest, Christians must keep their hearts and arms open to these freedom seekers.
But we have one tiny gripe about the repeated calls for refugee sponsors. Various spokesmen often make sponsorship sound like such a sacrifice—as if resettling a refugee is akin to spiritual masochism.
There is the idea that “This might cost some money and some time, but (sigh) it’s our Christian duty.” A local congregation signs up to be a sponsor, but at the same time regards the refugees as just so many Southeast Asian crosses to bear.
While any sponsorship that moves a refugee out of a disease-ridden, overcrowded camp is valuable, we believe the attitude mentioned blots out the real meaning of sponsorship—not to mention the humanity of the refugee.
Indochinese refugees are special people. They, if anyone, know something about sacrifice. For them, only the most basic values of life are of consequence. Refugees haven’t even thought about many things Westerners hold important.
Refugees don’t worry about jogging two miles after work: they already have run for their lives. They don’t fret over whether to buy a condominium or a split-level house in the suburbs: they’ll take any roof, even a cardboard hut if it’s available, in a detention camp.
Refugees don’t count calories, carbohydrates, or cholesterol. They count bowls of rice—making sure each family member receives his daily food apportionment.
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