My first post mentions I will be working for Friends of Refugees this summer. Most of you are probably wondering, “What is Friends of Refugees?” For a history of the ministry, check it out here.
Each summer, the ministry holds a summer camp for the children from the local refugee community. The camp is only $1 a day for each child. The camp consists of two, four week sessions with the camp operating Monday-Friday from 7:30-1:30.
The camp provides the children with daily academic lessons, breakfast and lunch, outdoor activities, field trips, and loving adult relationships. The camp is run from a Christian perspective but the gospel can not be openly shared. This frustrates some of the youth groups who volunteer and it definitely clashes with the way I perceived “missions” growing up.
But, there is a very practical and necessary reason for this. Many of these families come from strict religious backgrounds, and if their child were to come home “saved,” the families would kick the child to the curb, literally. Also, the families would not send their children to the camp if they thought their children were being proselytized. Don’t let this method fool you, the camp does encourage the cultivation of Christian character and virtue in each child, but not in an overt way.
Now, this is not to skirt the responsibility of the believer to fulfill the Great Commission. Instead of focusing solely on the child’s salvation, only leaving him/her to the wolves of their family, Friends of Refugees strives to build relationships with the families of the children. Because of their Christ-like love to the children AND to the families, the entire family unit transforms into a miniature representation of the Church. Of course, this transformation does not occur overnight, but instead, it happens within a struggling relationship between a lover of Truth and a family in need of Truth — between people from completely different worlds and life experiences. God, by his Grace, uses these earthly relationships to unveil the darkness so His people actualize their potential to project His image.
Sounds a little bit like the Incarnation, huh?
“But, in fact, the good God has given them a share in His own Image, that is, in our Lord Jesus Christ, and has made even themselves after the same Image and Likeness. Why? Simply in order that through this gift of Godlikeness in themselves they may be able to perceive the Image Absolute, that is the Word Himself, and through Him to apprehend the Father; which knowledge of their Maker is for men the only really happy and blessed life….The Self- revealing of the Word is in every dimension—above, in creation; below, in the Incarnation; in the depth, in Hades; in the breadth, throughout the world. All things have been filled with the knowledge of God.“
St. Athanasius — On the Incarnation