We're finally down to the last 4. One of these European nations will end up winning the World Cup this year. These nations are also similar in their struggles in recent years with the immigration and migrant crises.
Both Les Bleus and the Red Devils (France's and Belgium's national teams respectively) have been impressive in this competition because of their talented squad. Many players were in fact migrants. 17 out of the 23-man squad of the French team are sons of first-generation immigrants. The current Belgian team is a result of years of planning and talent-scouting. Beginning in 2000, football officials and coaches began a talent-scouting and development process to groom a generation of talented players for a country that only has 11 million people. For immigrants, playing for the national team and seeing a diverse mix of faces being represented encourages them and makes them feel like they are a part of this nation they call home.
The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in 2016, and since then the various countries have been trying to figure out what Brexit really means for countries that are not only tied economically, but also socially. Immigration and the ethnic diversity has also affected England, but not only in terms of stirring up unrest and tensions. The Guardian reports that this is the most multi-racial squad, and the players are regularly playing with foreigners in the leagues, which have certainly improved their skills.
Croatia has been struggling to deal with the influx of migrants. Migrants often try to cross over into Croatia from neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the hopes of moving on to Western Europe. These migrants hail from many different countries -- Syria, Libya, Afghanistan etc.
Immigration policies and the influx of migrants has stirred up great political debate and social tensions in recent years. How should the church respond? How should Christians think about these issues? Let's pray for Christians in these churches to live out the truths in Ephesians, trusting that in Christ, there really is no "Jew or Greek", or in our modern case, immigrants of different backgrounds. Pray for churches to be united and to reach out to those around them regardless of ethnicity. Pray that Christians will also actively serve and love the migrants who need practical help, and also other forms of help (e.g. legal etc). Through this, may they not only serve to be salt and light to the migrants, but also to their fellow countrymen who might be jaded by Christianity.