FOR the first time ever, refugees have had their own team in the Olympic summer games. The Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) consisted of ten athletes who have been affected by international crisis. Rather than competing for their country of origin or residence, they compete under the Olympic Flag. At the opening ceremony in Rio, the ROT even got to march before host nation Brazil.
It’s a powerful and courageous act by the International Olympic Committee to highlight the situation of refugees in this manner. Over 60 million people globally have been forced to leave their homes, people just like anyone else with families, dreams and many different jobs and skills. Being a refugee isn’t being another type of human being; a crisis can and does affect anyone.
Even Jesus was a refugee. As he had been born in Bethlehem, King Herod wanted to kill him, since he feared that this Messianic king that shepherds and wise men worshipped would try to take over his throne. To make sure that he killed the right baby, the king demanded that all boys in Bethlehem under the age of two should be slain. But then the Bible tells us:
“An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’ (Matthew 2:13-15).
Jesus emphasised taking care of people in need and welcoming refugees, or “strangers” as they were often called. Identifying himself with them, he said “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35), talking about those who are saved.
The apostle Paul wrote that: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20). Christians are similar to the Refugee Olympic Team – as the powers of this world fail us we put our trust in a new banner. In our weakness and brokenness, we get the most honourable position. And so we look forward to our opening ceremony as we enter the glorious gates of Heaven, totally saved from all this sinful world throws at us.