The Good Samaritan, a retelling 

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.

Trevin Wax issues this challenge in the Washington Post:

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.

Related: Is it easy for Syrian refugees to get to America?

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Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

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  • David Wesley Gould

    When the Church supports policies that would endanger more people under the guise of compassion and evangelistic mission, we’ve obviously come to love the oppressed more than we love the Deliverer. If you feel so strongly about serving the war-torn in Syria, why are you sitting in your comfy office writing about it rather than going to where the people need you? I know… it is easier to preach to the choir than actually engage the message oneself.

    • Rebecka Purtell King

      Then pen is a strong weapon in causing change. Apostle Paul knew that well. Beginning a discussion is a valid form of engaging the message.

      I agree with the sentiments of the author but completely deny the fact that I love the oppressed more than I love the Deliverer. However, your warning is a valid one as emotions run high. We must always love the Creator more than the creation and God’s mercy more than man’s. As someone who lives life dedicated in gospel sharing I must daily remind myself that my purpose is to glorify God- not save people.

      Please know that compassion for our enemies has not taken over our extreme love for our Savior. It’s just that we remember that not so long ago, we were the enemy of that very Deliverer and we fight against being like the servant who received forgiveness for a HUGE debt just to turn around and demand payment for a perceived debt owed against us.

      When faced with a choice. I will choose grace. Not because of the person I am, but because of the God who has remade me.

    • Chad Edgington

      A great point.

  • Scott G. North

    “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.” I agree…South Asian Christians and mainland China have for decades lived in oppression even as the gospel has been proclaimed. We are to not live in fear but I’ve had second glimpses of, what if’s, pertaining to mass executions from middle eastern men. I suspect that extreme violence will brake out.

    Over the last 10 years, I’ve not been swept away by the U.S media reports since 9/11 as I’ve sought independence in other media outlets. The other side of my brain says, if true Christian help is needed then true help I must and will give for divine appointments are often not within the church walls. I disagree on minor levels in some of your other posts but I have to say sometimes with a bit of apprehension that you are correct on this one.

  • Darryl Womack

    Love you brother but this isn’t a fair comparison. Apples and Oranges. I do engage people not only of other races but of other religions. I have provided meals for these people, assisted them with financial help and cared for them even if they do not agree with me. However the securing of our boarders is the national locking of our doors at night, the check to make sure we got the keys out of the ignition when we step into a store or the setting of the alarm when we leave our place of employment. I welcome refugees to the US, our nation is build upon this but there must be vetting that works. Ours hasn’t so its time to take a time out. We need to see if its even sensible to bring them half way around the world instead of keeping them closer to home. Remember the good Samaritan didn’t take him home with him he nursed his wounds, provided for his needs and left him at the LOCAL Inn. Other countries are having to rethink this issue and its time for us not to stop refugees from coming but to see how we can best serve them while keeping our families safe.

  • Megan Scott

    Thank you so much for writing this I was shaking with anger last night at the awful things my fellow Americans were saying about this. Thank you for shedding light on this issue.

  • Geoff Baggett

    Marty, I’ve been digesting this all morning, and am tempted to reply with with a differing, somewhat critical analysis … yet I know I will be set upon by the naive, “let’s all hold hands” crowd that read your interpretation of the “Good Samaritan” and seems to be willing to err in the direction of absolute trust and grace in this particular situation. But if I recall that parable correctly, that Good Samaritan took the wounded man to an inn and paid for his stay there. He didn’t hand him the keys to his own house … You see, the transposition of a Scriptural parable can be adapted to justify a whole host of positions on modern-day issues.

    But I must say this … those of us faithful believers who choose to separate matters of national security with national/international implications from those of the personal obedience to and application of Scripture are no less spiritual or “mature” than those who, apparently, do not. Your post today seems, at least on the surface, to imply otherwise. It intimates that if I am resistant to welcoming refugees from ISIS-controlled territories, then I must not really be an obedient believer. Because a true believer wouldn’t think like that, right? If that is the case, consider me among the “offended.” But, as a pastor, I am very thick-skinned. Just not thick-skinned enough to stop a terrorist bullet or shrapnel from an ISIS bomb blast.

    • Fiscal Nonsense

      Well said!

    • John Magwood

      Geoff, believers aren’t naïve and “holding hands”. We’re holding Shields of Faith and Swords of the Spirit, doing battle against a spiritual enemy who hates everyone, including Muslims. The world, the flesh and the devil – not people – are our enemies. Of course the good Samaritan didn’t take the wounded man home; he was on a business trip away from home. He did the best he could under the circumstances. Jesus told that story to show the religious leaders of His own nation that they we’re righteous and as such couldn’t enter His Kingdom – no matter what nation they lived in on earth. This world is not our home and the principles of this world are not Kingdom principles. That doesn’t mean we let down our guard and act foolishly – but we are fools for Jesus! It does mean, however, that we walk by faith in the promises of Jesus in the Spirit, not by sight. The Lord bless you and multiply the flock that you are shepherding.

    • martyduren

      Hey Geoff-

      Sorry for the long delay in responding. I wanted to wait until I could address your concerns (mostly) uninterrupted.

      First, I always appreciate your input, and don’t expect we will agree on everything. That does not mean I think less of your commitment to Christ when we do.

      Your interpretation of my parable compared to Jesus (“give him the keys to his own house”) isn’t accurate, IMO. Refugees entering this country aren’t given the keys to anything. Refugees, especially those from Syria, are often settled with family. Sometimes having family here is a requirement.

      “Among those who pass background checks [in the Middle East], a small percentage are referred for overseas resettlement based on criteria designed to determine the most vulnerable cases. This group may include survivors of torture, victims of sexual violence, targets of political persecution, the medically needy, families with multiple children and a female head of household.” (Time)

      I’m not writing about those who have concerns about refugees from ISIS-controlled areas; but to those who appear to have no concern about the refugees themselves. Most of the reasons given for keeping them out are not based on the best available info. Many people claim the vetting process is incomplete or ineffective. That’s wrong. Some claim it will be easy for ISIS to send people to the states posing as refugees. That’s wrong, too.

      Some I’ve encountered seem to be against the idea of Syrian refugees coming to the States simply because Obama supports it. That’s absurd. It follows a bogus “Obama is trying to turn the US into a Muslim country” narrative. Others are clearly giving in to fear. They literally seem to think we are just loading up Syrians at the dock, asking them their names, and bringing them over. It’s simply not true.

      Since 9/11 the US has taken in nearly 750,000 refugees from states as failed as Syria is now. We’ve taken in refugees from Iraq, where ISIS also operates. We’ve taken in refugees from Somalia, where Al-Queda operates. Only two or three of the 750k have been arrested for anything related to terroristic activity. None of that activity was directed toward the US. Refugees from Syria go through the most rigorous process of all hopeful immigrants.

      Again, I’m not opposed to the lengthy process to which the government puts Syrian refugees; I’m for it. I don’t quite understand your national/international implications comment, to be honest. I understand scripture to teach God is in control of all of our lives, not only personal obedience.

      I in no way intended to imply people with concerns about the refugee situation (different than mine) are somehow lesser Christians. But, some of the comments and attitudes toward people running for their lives can hardly be reconciled with Christ.

  • The prophets are not well known by dominant cultures!
    The Good Samaritan Story has a very scathing “back story”:

    Ezekiel 16:48-52

    48 As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. 49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. 51 Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed. 52 Bear your disgrace, you also, for you have intervened on behalf of your sisters. Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. So be ashamed, you also, and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.

  • Fiscal Nonsense

    I would say the author is playing to both sides of the road here. The government has a job and unfortunately the people of this country has blurred the lines of what the governments job is and what the citizens and Christians job is. The government is here to serve and protect. In this situation of bringing ‘refugees’ into this country they are failing miserably at protecting. That is there job, and it is what this country was founded on, and yet we continue to allow the government to meddle with helping the disadvantaged and the Church continues to want to impose it’s governing strength. The government does a terrible wasteful job at caring for those in need. We have seen time and again where they will spend 50x as much to care for the disadvantaged and will still not see the same results as those of the church. The government needs to ensure that those they are permitting to come here are not posing a threat to this country. Please keep in mind while it is easy to say we as Christians do not need to live in safety, there are plenty of people who are not of this faith in this country who should not be subjected to our compassion no matter the consequence. IF we are that compelled to risk our safety then there are plenty of opportunities to go overseas and do that. If the government would do there part of protecting , then those of us walking and living the faith we profess will have no trouble doing ours.

  • R2D3

    From: The Des Moines Register (Dec. 24, 2014)

    In the spirit of Christmas, I ask Christians who are opposed to refugee/immigration reforms to consider one thing: Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees. They had to run to another country for safety after Jesus was born. Would you treat them with the same hatred as today’s children and families who are running from death in their countries?, — Debbie Linthicum, Des Moines

    • Freedomlovingdadof7

      In referring to refugee/immigration reforms, I assume you are referring to those entering our country illegally, as well as to the refugee situation.

      In light of that, there are are several problems with your comment.

      It’s very unlikely that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus entered Egypt illegally. Both Egypt and Israel were part of the Roman Empire, so going from one to the other would have had no more legal ramifications than travelling from one state to another does today. Their flight into Egypt provides no justification for entering our country illegally.

      The issue today is not with women and children. It is with hoardes of young men who have not been vetted, and, as we saw in Paris, have used refugee status to gain entry and perpetrate terrorism.

      Concern for national security and the desire to protect our citizens does not equate to hatred.

      • R2D3

        I can’t speak to the U.S. to bring in Syrian refugees, but the 25,000 refugees that Canada is planning to bring in have already had some vetting already because they are in U.N. camps, then further vetting will be done by Canadian security (CSIS), immigration officials, etc.

        8:45 minute mark

  • R2D3
  • R2D3

    Is anyone here the type of Christian who asks:

    Are we our brother’s keeper? The parable of the Good Samaritan clearly does not support the idea of refugees for our country because we are Americans, not Samaritans.”

    Are we our brother’s keeper? The parable of the Good Samaritan clearly does not support the idea of refugees for our country because we are Canadians, not Samaritans.”

    Are we our brother’s keeper? The parable of the Good Samaritan clearly does not support the idea of refugees for our country because we are British, not Samaritans.”

    Are we our brother’s keeper? The parable of the Good Samaritan clearly does not support the idea of refugees for our country because we are Germans, not Samaritans.”


  • Maybe because the United States doesn’t have a monopoly on the church and getting them here isn’t their salvation? Just a thought.

  • Mark Smith

    First of all, the so-called good Samaritan has nothing to do with refugees coming into a nation of borders, but with sinful preferences of ethnicity within the borders of a sovereign nation. It is clear that God made all peoples from one blood and set their borders and boundaries.Your story is a cute parable and preaches good, but I don’t think it is good to add to God’s Word or take away from God’s Word in any way.

  • Mark Smith

    There are plenty of people that need the gospel and are without work and without homes and robbed and beaten right here within our own borders that need a good Samaritan to aid them back to health. I we need to start here before we start elsewhere.

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  • rick_w55

    The command to love our neighbors, even those who are different, is clear. But this rewritten parable is a stretch. It isn’t about a Jew whose sees a lot of people coming from other countries that might include people who want to destroy the Jews. The Samaritan showed love to the Jew, and then went home. The call now is to bring people into our “home,” most of whom are of a religion some members of which are happy to fly planes into the World Trade Center or shoot up a restaurant and music venue. Unfortunately, terrorists don’t wear badges.

    There are clear commands and principles given in Scripture about loving people without a list of qualifications. But I can’t think of any examples in Scripture that are like our current situation. I can’t even think of incidents involving refugees in Scripture, but I’m happy to be reminded. (Incidentally, an event recorded in Scripture I *haven’t* seen people reference was that of Hezekiah showing off the wealth of Judah to his Babylonian visitors who later returned and took it all.)

    I’m not for an outright ban, but I think this parable only gives us a start with regard to how to respond to the current crisis. Our government has the responsibility to protect the people. I am very grateful for the vigilance of our local and national law enforcement agencies who keep an eye out for trouble and nip it in the bud (which happens a lot). The same principles of love and protection people want to apply to the refugees (some or many of whom are not from Syria) have to be applied to Americans as well. As I’ve written elsewhere, we shouldn’t go to either extreme. Those who enter our country are to be treated with love and respect. But lets be cautious about building simplistic cases from Scripture to support openness that really don’t fit the situation.

  • Man o music

    I’m still praying this through. However, I’m reminded of the times I encouraged my daughters to refrain from “Missionary Dating” (Missionary dating is the act of a person of one religious faith, commonly Christianity, dating a person (showing the love of Christ) with differing beliefs for the purpose of changing that person’s beliefs or religion.) Can the same arguments for/against apply in this circumstance.

  • Jim Judge

    sad reading all of the articles such as this, setting up straw men, in
    actuality their brothers and sisters as short-sighted and un-caring for the
    immigrant. There is such a desire to be held in high esteem by the masses we
    can’t even have honest dialogue without questioning our motives and publicly
    scolding fellow believers. Our intelligence agencies agree that 10 to 25% of
    all Muslims adhere to the radical ideology and would kill you, your family,
    unworthy Muslims and any Jew or Christian in pursuit of their caliphate . There
    is no way to screen these individuals who come from a place such as Syria and
    we know the enemy is using refugees to place fighters in other countries like
    France. We are the most open country in the world to immigrants & I have
    not heard many Christians complaining about our task to minister to them as our
    “neighbor” The Good Samaritan gave his own time, care and resources.
    How does this compare to what the religious and political Left are suggesting
    we do, which is to invite 5 sojourners into our neighborhood KNOWING one of
    them will likely do devastating harm to some of their new neighbors? I would
    die for my faith. I will not make others die for my foolishness

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  • Adam Jenson

    “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet
    and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from
    them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require
    from the watchman’s hand” – Ezekiel 33:6