The Power of These Words: “Jesus Was a Refugee, Too”

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A camp near Zahle, Lebanon

December 2016 –

‘Tis the season when familiar carols are sung around town and over airwaves to help us remember again the true meaning of Christmas. One of my favorites is the simple “Away in a Manger” so many of us learned in our earliest days at home, or as we prepared for parts in a Christmas pageant, especially the last stanza:

Be near me Lord Jesus / I ask you to stay
Close by me forever / and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children / in Thy tender care
And fit us for heaven / to live with you there.

This verse is so personal and reassuring, reminding us how close Jesus is to us, His children, regardless of our age or circumstance.

Every time I hear “Bless all the dear children/in Thy tender care”, I picture the precious ones God tenderly cares for in refugee camps all over the world.

These words have taken on a deeper meaning for me and all of us here at Tent Schools International. Every time I hear “Bless all the dear children/in Thy tender care”, I picture the precious ones God tenderly cares for in refugee camps all over the world.

What inspired me to write to you now is to remind all of us that millions of displaced children do not know or feel tenderly cared for, but God truly is near. This truth is at the heart of our Tent Schools mission: that children experience Jesus’ compassionate love through the tender care their believing teachers selflessly demonstrate one-on-one with every child in a refugee camp school. Yes, it is that simple, just like the song. It is uncomplicated and true.

Think what his or her expression would be when told, “Did you know when Jesus was little, he was a refugee too?”

Imagine a refugee child standing and singing these words with the children in your church’s Sunday School program. And, then, think what his or her expression would be when told, “Did you know when Jesus was little, he was a refugee too?”

None of us can relate to Jesus’ exile more than the Syrian children who are spending this season in a camp in Lebanon, far from all that is dear to them. The Syrian war rages on, with little hope for resolution any time soon. But this season renews our hope that one day, and even now, these children will believe a brighter future awaits them.

Please, through your prayer and a generous gift, let these children continue to see that they, too, are among all the dear children in Jesus’ tender care.

God bless you and yours this Advent season!

Scott Vander Kooy, President