A modern parable based on Jesus’ story commonly known as The Good Samaritan, based on Luke’s gospel in the New Testament, chapter 10, verses 29-37.
A man named Farid fell victim to a famine and multi-year civil war in Syria. What the parched ground did not take from him, the numerous fighting factions in his country did. Eventually, with many of his possessions destroyed, he fled his homeland and became a refugee.
During a long and winding journey Farid found himself awaiting entrance to a new country he might call home. Or, where, at the least, he might stay until the war in his home had ended, and he could return.
As he waited, a pastor passed by his way. Recognizing his refugee status, the pastor shouted, “We must secure the borders!” He whipped out his phone, placed a call to the governors office, and implored her not to allow refugees from Syria into their fair state.
Similarly, another Christian came by, and, upon seeing the refugee, crossed to the other side of the road. Holding her children close, she whispered, “Be careful! He’s from Syria, and is most likely an ISIS terrorist in disguise.”
After some time an unbeliever came by. He stopped, introduced himself, and asked the refugee what kind of help he needed. The unbeliever gave assistance, helped with medical care, food, and housing. After a while the two of them became close friends, and, even after Farid was able to return to Syria they maintained contact. A number of years later Farid died peacefully in his sleep.
But, because Christians had treated Farid like an enemy his exposure to the gospel was limited. God brought Farid to the doorstep of a country filled with Christians, yet they preferred to keep him out. He found little “good news” in their message.
Farid heard from Christians, “You are a Muslim. You hate us and want us killed.”
Farid heard from Christians, “How can we be sure you won’t be radicalized?”
Farid heard from Christians, “If we let you in it will cost us more in tax dollars.”
Farid heard from Christians, “All Muslims will be like ISIS/Daesh if given the chance.”
Farid heard from Christians, “We need to be kept safe.”
And so, Farid died, and entered eternity without Christ. Why? Because too many Christians in America are more vested in America than in the gospel of Jesus.
Many American Christians would die tomorrow to “defend the borders” but would not break a nail to befriend a person of a different religion. When politics informs Christianity rather than the other way around, perverted Christianity is the only possible outcome. How Great We Art is not a tune Jesus would recognize. It is like shouting, “Jesus saves! Just get saved in your own country. Or in Europe. We’ll send missionaries!”
Does government have a role in refugee resettlement? Absolutely. Multiple governments, NGOs, and international organizations are usually involved in getting people from one side of the world to the other. Alan Cross does a fantastic job of explaining how refugee resettlement works in the United States. It isn’t the Statue of Liberty with drunken grin and “Y’ALL COME!” on her lips. Resettling refugees from Syria to the U.S. can take a long as two years and it is a multi-step process. We should pray for those involved in screening and interviews to have wisdom to see the bad apples, and toss them aside.
Why do so many Christians, who assert Romans 13 when talking about law enforcement, seem to forget it’s in the Bible when talking about refugees? The same governmental authority behind the badge is behind refugee resettlement. How are churches supposed to get the gospel to these who need it when the members are imploring state governors to slam the door, nail it shut, and put a metal bar across their side? As are some pastors.
Christ has not called us to live in safety. The center of God’s will is not the safest place in the world, and it never has been. Many followers of Jesus have died there. If it is God’s will to bring thousands of Muslim refugees to the U.S., it is we, not they, who need centering. Will we who complain about preaching the gospel to itching ears refuse the gospel to those whose ears have never heard it?
Those in Hebrews 11 who were sawn in two, killed with the sword, and died “having seen the promises far off” are just as much heroes of the faith, as those who stopped the mouths of lions. Preachers are quick to remind “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” but stop shy of recommending new plantings from the same source.
Without doubt the Syrian refugee situation is a humanitarian crisis on a nearly unimaginable scale. So many people leaving home to avoid war and terrorism boggles the mind.
What is the courageous response? To close the borders for good? To turn away thousands of families and children who, through no fault of their own, have been victimized by war and violence and long for peace?
It is fear that drives out compassion toward our fellow humans suffering under the weight of injustice and violence. Fear, not courage.
God bringing to Christians those who need Christ is not a thing to fear. It is a time for preparation for gospel advance. But, it will do no good if all our actions and words indicate we have no good news for those who need it.
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