Category Archives: Refugees

Camps of Refugees – Come, Lord Jesus

As refugees and migrants pour into Europe in ever-greater numbers, some commentators have been expressing wonder that so much of this was foretold in an amazing 1973 novel, “The Camp of the Saints.”

But the commentators are generally secular in outlook and so fail to note something else – that the novel is also, in some respects, a Christian parable that points to an “end-times” view of the end of civilization.

“The Camp of the Saints” was written by French Catholic novelist Jean Raspail and portrays a liberal Europe so stricken by guilt over its own perceived racism and past injustices that it is simply unable to resist when a million-or-so Asian migrants arrive in boats and declare their intention to stay.

Among many incredible parallels with today’s unfolding events, there is even in the 1973 book a Latin American pope intent on proclaiming his humility and preaching universal love.

Raspail’s thesis is quite clear: our Western liberal society – church included – has lost the will to defend itself.

The book, right from the start, injects an apocalyptic Christian theme. It actually begins with a revealing quotation from the Bible, which also provides its title:

And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison. And he will go forth to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for war, whose number is as the sand of the sea. And they went up over the breadth of the earth and encircled the camp of the saints and the beloved city. – Revelation 20:7-9

Does Raspail suggest that his book’s third-world “invasion” is part of the last battle of Satan? It would surely seem so.

So what is the proper Christian attitude to the escalating crisis? I live far away in Australia, and hesitate to voice a view. But certainly I wonder how Europe can possibly hope to integrate so many men and women from such different cultural backgrounds. I even wonder how many of them are genuine refugees.

But numerous Christians see only one valid response. The pastor of the church where, until recently, I was a worshipper, posted on his Facebook page a link to an article from Britain’s The Guardian newspaper that carried the headline: “Christian politicians won’t say it, but the Bible is clear: let the refugees in, every last one.” My ex-pastor added a comment: “Oh yeah! Wish I’d preached that.”

Here in Australia our previous government relaxed its enforcement of laws on illegal migrants, and suddenly we were hit by waves of tens of thousands of Asian boat people. More than one thousand are known to have drowned.

So two years ago a new government began intercepting and sending back all new arrivals, and within a remarkably short time the boats stopped. We still take thousands of refugees each year, but they come legally, systematically and safely. It is a stand that makes sense to me.

Other rich countries in this region like Japan and South Korea take virtually no refugees at all. My wife is Korean, and she recently read out to me a telling newspaper report. Some Asian countries, including hers, have just celebrated the annual Moon Festival, when families traditionally feast together. In Seoul a group of students, inspired by humanitarian activists in Europe, decided to organize a special meal for refugees in their country. But there was a problem. They could find only a dozen of them.

Perhaps the Bible is explicit in affirming that we must allow into our countries every last one of those seeking refuge. I am not so sure. But I do feel that, when I watch on television the heart-rending images coming from Europe, I am witnessing hints of the apocalyptic ending of our civilization. Surely I am not alone in retiring to bed at night thinking, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

A New Feeling of Peace and Joy Amidst the Bloodshed

We do not hear much good news for Christians from Iraq nowadays, so I was encouraged to hear about a new school there that, against all odds, is achieving great success in turning angry and confused young refugee kids into enthusiastic students.

It is run by Father Douglas Bazi, a Chaldean Christian priest, and I was able to set up a Skype connection to chat with him about his activities.

In fact, Father Bazi has previously achieved a degree of renown. He was once kidnapped by Islamists. They used a hammer to break his teeth, his knees and his back. The torment only ended when his church paid a ransom to win his release. But he was forced to spend a year in bed, recovering from his injuries.

Douglas BaziHe has also been in churches that have been bombed, and he has seen members of his congregation murdered. He has been urged to leave the country, for his own protection, but he refuses.

He is now priest at Mar Elias church in a secure part of Iraq, in Ankawa, a Christian suburb of Erbil, which is the capital of Kurdistan. Though just 80 kilometres from ISIS-controlled Mosul, the region is well protected and ISIS is not deemed a threat.

His church has a large, sprawling garden, and Christians fleeing the genocide of ISIS have found sanctuary there, living in 120 caravans.

It is among the caravans that he has launched his new school, staffed by volunteers and aimed at giving education – and hope – to some 200 youngsters, and to their parents as well.

Several caravans are classrooms. One is a computer lab. There is also a library. He wanted to take the children to the cinema, but it was expensive. So he was able to acquire a large television set, and another of the caravans is now a cinema.

“I want to give the children a future,” he said. “I want them to be creative. We must not transfer our hatreds to them.”

His programs seem to be working. Youngsters and adults arrived angry and aggressive, and traumatized from their experiences. With little to occupy them in their new environment they then became restless and depressed.

Now, thanks to the school and an extensive program that incorporates sports and drama classes, as well as more traditional subjects, he is witnessing enormous changes. The students have become happy, enthusiastic learners. Their parents have found a sense of community. A feeling of peace and joy embraces the caravans. Some of the families have refused to leave when given the chance to be resettled in apartments.

The students learn English, among other subjects, and Father Bazi has a request.

“I need books,” he told me. “Especially picture books for the younger children, but also books suitable for older children and adults.” Rather than novels he would prefer collections of short stories, as well as non-fiction titles with lots of illustrations.

If you feel you have suitable books that you could donate please email Father Douglas at douglasbazi@gmail.com.