He was forced to leave his home along with his parents because of civil unrest in his native country. The President had called for a genocide against his people and it just wasn’t safe for them any longer. His refugee family found shelter in Egypt for a few years, then returned to the Middle East after the President’s death. He worked in his dad’s shop before becoming a preacher at the age of 30. Shortly after his ministry began, he was sentenced to death by the government, even though he was completely and totally innocent.
I must admit that I am living in a tension between compassion for refugees and concern about terrorism. Knowing that Jesus himself was, at one time, a refugee, and having met several political refugees personally, it makes my heart swell with compassion… but knowing what we know about recent attacks around the world and this apparent “trojan horse” method of terrorism, it gives me pause.
I don’t have any answers. Just questions really. What is the Biblical response? To close all of our borders for good to everyone? To turn away thousands of widows and children who, through no fault of their own, have been victimized by war and violence? How do we obey a Biblical mandate to both welcome the stranger and protect our own families? This is hard.
I’ve heard the grape argument. “If one grape in the bunch was poisoned would you eat any of them?” But we’re not talking about grapes here. We’re talking about souls. Jesus looked at the whole bunch and knew ALL of them were poisoned, yet he still chose to drink of the cup and die for the love of them.
There must be a balance. I do think it’s reasonable and prudent to pause immigration to review and revamp the process of screening applicants (and yes, I’m aware that in some countries a majority of the refugees are single young men… thus the enhanced screening process). It is not anti-refugee to enforce the strictest of security standards, to ensure that our country remains safe. But we cannot slam the door and wall ourselves in, ignoring “the least of these” who have very legitimate needs for shelter and security. We cannot be controlled by fear. To borrow from an article I read earlier today…
“Fear leads to hatred; courage leads to convictional compassion. And convictional compassion means differentiating between the radical Islamists who would destroy us and peaceful neighbors who stand with us in deploring such violence.
We are in a war. An unconventional war, of course, but a war nonetheless. Wars always bring out the best and worst in humanity. When future generations look back in time, let us hope they will see that we met these challenges with courage, not fear. In doing so, we obey the most frequent command in the Bible, ‘Do not be afraid.'”
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” -1 John 4:18
Join with me in praying for the families of the men and women who lost their lives this week in Paris. Praying for the refugees who have been driven out of their homeland, just like our Lord. Praying for the terrorist who believes Satan’s lies. And most of all praying that the Gospel will be shared and shown through the hands of those that reach out in love and compassion. Jesus is the only hope for this world and the people in it.