“Build a wall!” “We don’t want those kind of people in our country!” “There could be terrorists among them.”
These are the statements we are saying to the masses that are in need. No longer can I hear these statements without my heart wrenching. As an American citizen who’s lived in the United States all his life, it is easy to bury my head in the sand and just focus on what’s happening around me. I find that remaining in a state that we find comfortable is most of the time contradictory to the teachings of Jesus. As I look beyond the borders of my home country I see a people in extreme need. People that Christ loves and died for; that are the innocent bystanders in the path of the fight against ISIS.
ISIS is an evil group of people. Now as a coalition of countries take the fight to them in Syria, a massive humanitarian crisis has come. Artillery shelling, targeted drone strikes, and mass executions, the people of Syria have lost their homes and livelihood. According to Amnesty International, there are currently 4.5 million displaced Syrian refugees.
As I sit here in the comfort of the USA, I hear statements being made commonly as, “There could be terrorists among them.” Then I watch as the church and the people that make up that church body sit back and say, “We don’t want them.” Or maybe they sprinkle some niceties into the statement by saying, “We’ll take them but only when we have a screening process that works for us.”
I apologize. I forgot that Jesus instructed his inner four apostles to do an assessment and a background check on the Samaritan woman at the well before he would share the Gospel with her. Oh wait a minute, that didn’t happen. Jesus went and sat with her, someone of a different culture who was seen as dirty and dangerous, and on the spot met her needs by telling her about the Gospel. Then later the apostles return and are upset with the actions of Jesus.
So let me say this. The church is in danger of being those narrow-minded apostles, who at that moment missed the point of the mission of Christ. There are 4.5 million people caught up in the Syrian refugee crisis looking for refuge. The answer to them needs to be the church with open-arms, not disdain that has grown from our comfortability. For Christ didn’t call his people to be comfortable or safe.
The answer to them needs to be the church with open-arms, not disdain that has grown from our comfortability.
Some of you might see me as foolish for casting off the desire of a safe environment. Yes, I’m aware that terrorists could take advantage of such a humanitarian situation. Terrorists have launched horrific attacks on innocent people in Paris, Belgium, Turkey, and many other places in the past several months. That is neither here nor there and has NO weight when carrying out the mission for Christ. After all, those terrorists need to see the light of Christ as well. To those of you reading this that say, “I believe in Jesus,” I want to remind you of the teaching “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Love your enemies.”
That is neither here nor there and has NO weight when carrying out the mission for Christ.
Too many times in the past century the church has been comfortable when it comes to humanitarian crises— the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and the Sudan refugee crises that still rages on today. I ask for the church to rethink our approach and our position, for we are not to be people that spout off an isolationistic mentality of “Build a wall,” “We don’t want those kind of people in our country,” or “There could be terrorists among them.”
The first step to solving any problem is admitting we have one. Therefore what is the church and the people that make up the church to do?
1. Pray for the refugees and terrorists!
2. Find in ourselves the courage to cast off this false idol of safety.
3. Let our government know that we will answer the call and will take in the widows, orphans, and the displaced.
4. Show love to everyone through words and actions, even those who want to do us harm.
Something to think about: The Hartford Institute estimates that the United States has 350,000 Protestant and Catholic churches. If each one hosted 13 refugees, then the crises is over, and multitudes would be won over to Christ.
I ask all of you to join me in pulling our heads out of the sand. Far too many times we worship our own comfortability and safety, which completely hinders our effectiveness in carrying out the message of Christ.