Reading about the many, many Syrians seeking refuge in Turkey, Germany and all over Europe, I'm reminded of the deeply inspired ministries of the Jubilee Partners in Comer, Georgia. For decades, they've extended hospitality to refugees from around the world: welcoming, educating, loving and advocating for their well-being in a strange and foreign land. Since 1980, Jubilee has hosted over 3,000 refugees from more than 30 countries. Most have moved on to meaningful and connected lives in the U.S.
What I most admire is the way this community's ministry emerges, organically, from its profoundly Christian faith. They live together in community. Theirs is a eucharistic life: marked by prayer, gratitude and gospel grace. This isn't posturing, or moralizing, or anything of the sort. Their ministry with refugees is about love, compassion, human decency: and discipleship in its most dynamic sense.
Looking over their website again, tonight, I wonder what the rest of us might do: to welcome Syrians, educate and love Syrians, and advocate for their well-being. Maybe the folks at Jubilee will show us how.
Their name, of course, recalls the biblical tradition, the provocative Hebrew tradition, of the 'jubilee.' In this, the covenanted people pay attention to the many ways cultures and societies encumber their peoples: with debt, with violence, with poverty. And then the covenanted people act to repair the damage, to renew the people's relationship with the land, to free debt-ridden peoples from terror and impoverishment.
The very existence of the Jubilee Partners is a prophetic message to Christians, Jews, people of conscience. How is it that people are burdened in our own time: by debt, poverty, violence, war? How are systems (financial, political, electoral) set up to oppress and marginalize families and communities? And HOW CAN WE REPAIR THE DAMAGE, renew communities, return one another to our God-given relationship with land and harvest, purpose and joy? I think the church has this before it: to take the 'jubilee' to heart, as a way of life!