Most of us consider it vitally important to have somewhere we call home. But why is this so and what does it mean to have a ‘home’?
Where or what do you consider to be your home? You might like to consider such themes as location, land or home ownership, ancestry, culture, nationality, and anything else that comes to mind. Share your thoughts with the group. Comment on the importance or otherwise of ‘home’ to you.
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, 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.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”
Article by Davidson Solanki, USPG International Programmes Manager.
When Burma was granted independence from the British in January 1948, the Burmese and Karen people – who had been in conflict since the nineteenth century – attempted to live peacefully side by side. But the truce was short-lived.
Fighting intensified and hundreds of thousands of Karen fled to escape attack by the ruling Burmese. Over the decades, the Karen took refuge in camps on the Myanmar-Thai border, where they created fragile settlements, always fearful of ambush. People went hungry because there was no land to grow food, healthcare was scarce, and education was provided in make-shift schools.
Today, Myanmar has undergone democratic reforms and there are only small pockets of conflict between the Burmese army and the Karen people. (Some figures put Myanmar’s population at 53 million, of which approximately 7 million are Karen.)
Internally displaced Karen are returning to the areas they used to live, although few have been able to re-settle in their villages because they have been taken over by the Burmese.
A young Karen teacher in Mei La camp on the Thai border said: ‘Because of the conflict, my family could not stay in our village. Six of us fled in 2003, and stayed in the camp for 12 years. I could not work or earn money, so we depended on support from the UN and NGOs. Now I am planning to return to Myanmar, but I don’t know what jobs there will be and I don’t have land. I no longer know where my home is. I think it might be easier to stay in the camp or migrate to another country.’
Alongside the practical challenges, the Karen are struggling to come to terms with the scars of oppression and upheaval. The Anglican Church of Myanmar is assisting returnees with re-homing, access to clean water, sanitation, health and education.
O God, our refuge in the storm,
Our hope in times of trouble,
The Son of Man had no place to lay his head;
May we see Jesus in the migrant and the refugee.
Break our hearts with your compassion for the exiled.
Help us to offer welcome to those seeking safety and shelter.