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Identity in the Ukrainian Refugee Crisis

Our identity in Jesus Christ was a teaching in the lecture phase of DTS and was reinforced organically in outreach. The message regarding orphan/son/daughter spirits had been very impactful to Jenn and me. God double-downed the emphasis during our time at the Ukrainian resettlement center. With a world wrestling with identity (especially in Europe), the topic is a very timely message of hope.

The Ukrainian resettlement center became an eight-part allegory of God’s adoption of us as sons and daughters. During the first month of outreach, I strongly felt an orphan spirit. I did not belong at the center, I did not share the favor extended to the refugees, and I had to work to be accepted. This spirit was in contrast to what the Ukrainians were experiencing. My orphan spirit diminished the joy I should have been experiencing in hindsight.

  1. Shaking. Most refugees we met loved and missed their communities. Absent the war, they would have stayed in Ukraine and not sought a new country.

  2. Compassion. Both Norwegians and Ukrainians share a boarder with Russia. As a result, Norway empathized with the Ukrainian struggle and had compassion on the people.

  3. Grace. Norway is very wealthy, has strong financial benefits for citizens, and tightly controls immigration. Without merit, Norway extended favor to Ukrainians solely based on who they are.

  4. Calling. Norway opened their boarders to refugees from Ukraine. Norway could not protect the refugees from injury and death unless they left Ukraine and entered their country.

  5. Acceptance. A person's acceptance of the calling was dependent upon their faith in Norway's grace toward them. Refugees came voluntarily on their own initiative; all left behind homes, friends, jobs, financial assets, and/or family members.

  6. New Citizenship. A 'rebirth' is extended to refugees that want to be grafted into Norway. A path to citizenship is offered to Ukrainians that participate in a multi-month cultural and language training program and obey Norwegian laws.

  7. Joy. While I was struggling with my role at the center, we watched the Ukrainians laugh, dance, and generously share what they had with us. The tables were flipped, a very different experience than I had envisioned entering outreach.

  8. Evangelism. The refugees were very aware of the suffering in Ukraine and took the opportunity to share their Norwegian experience with others. Most refugees entered Norway based upon the testimony of friends and family already in Norway. Their promotion was motivated not from obligation but from love of others.

During the fifth week in Norway, we met the owner of the refugee center. To my surprise, he had gone through a Family DTS in Kona Hawaii recently and was showing our team unmerited favor. If I had just known our benefactor, my spirit would be been much different during the first month. The following quote by A.W. Tozer became much more real to me.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most import thing about us.”

If we don’t know our Father intimately as sons and daughters, we are orphans.

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