Did you know that:
- 1 in 113 people live forcibly displaced from their homes (adding up to 65.3 million)
- 21.3 million of those people are considered “refugees”
- 4.9 million refugees have fled from Syria alone
- 50% of refugees are under the age of 18
The issues surrounding the refugee crisis are complex. In order to engage such complexities in a God-honoring way, the Christian must be carefully led by Biblical conviction. Embracing the following three principles (which are admittedly too brief, but let’s just call it an introductory primer) is paramount to godly engagement.
Christians cannot be ruled by fear. However, this is not a perfunctory sentiment that disregards caution. Being freed from fear does not mean that we embrace ignorance or recklessness, but rather involves us placing our hope in God and trusting His faithfulness as we obey His Word. When we live in fear of God rather than fear of men, we will grow to discern a response grounded in godly wisdom, unhindered by our own sin and uninfluenced by political rhetoric around us.
Because refugees come from areas of intense conflict—fleeing groups who often want to expand their reach of terror—it is important that we desire safeguards to be set in place before allowing them into our country. The motive of these safeguards should not be rooted in fear but in love. If we love our American neighbors, we will desire their safety. If we love victims of terror seeking solace in our country, we will desire to keep this place of refuge safe. However, a loving desire for wisdom that promotes safety will not act as an excuse to shut our doors to those seeking escape. To welcome refugees does indeed involve a level of risk, but to reject them ensures their desolation.
One of the most powerful ways Christians can emulate Christ is through compassion. Compassion not only encompasses sympathy over suffering, but includes a strong desire to alleviate that suffering. It is easy to embrace sympathetic platitudes, but we should expect that truly embracing compassion comes at a cost—after all, Christ’s perfect compassion came at the cost of His own life.
Simply embracing such a Christ-like compassion would significantly mobilize the church to care for refugees both around the world and in our midst. While they may not be neighbors in a worldly sense, they are our neighbors when we consider Scripture’s definition. In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus shows us that neighbor extends past our family, past our countrymen, and stretches all the way to include those that might even be considered our enemies. If we have compassion, it will impact the way we pray, think about, and care for refugees, acknowledging them not just as human beings created in the image of God, but as our very own neighbors to whom we’re called to “love as ourselves.”
Remember The Great Commission
Christ commanded that we go into the world and make disciples of all nations. As Americans, we are not only called to minister to our fellow citizens but to any nationality living among us. When we consider that a great deal of refugees are coming from areas essentially unreached by the Gospel, it is apparent that God is readying a harvest for His church to sow seeds of the Gospel. He is bringing people into our midst, whom we never would have otherwise encountered, so that He can continue using His Church to accomplish His work of making disciples of every nation.
There is a significant need, and coinciding significant opportunity. There are refugees residing within our borders, where our churches can shine as a beacons of light to the lost. Let us fight for freedom from fear as we trust our King, let us embrace compassion as we live as reflections of Christ, and let us boldly strive to fulfill our mission, obeying the Great Commission to teach those of every nation about the Savior of the world.
Passages and Principles to Consider:
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7
“Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” Proverbs 21:13
“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:31-36
“He [The Lord] executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:18, 19
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19, 20