Refugees. This is not an easy topic, to talk about or to live out honestly, and I hope I don’t come across too harshly. Many people we love disagree with us passionately on this topic, but we feel like it is vastly important and the American Church has gotten this wrong, so please bear with me…I just hope that if you have an opposite view that you would read on, pray and ask for truth. We continue to do so as well. 🙂
Also I want to add that we get the fear! I lived it, Chase lived it. When I first heard Jay Sekulow talking about the refugee crisis and how unsafe these refugees were and about how our country was in grave danger I totally bought it and was terrified. I started taking action against bringing the refugees in and was telling others to do the same. Then I talked to Chase because he had spent time months prior in the refugee camps and I began to find out how wrong I was. Prior to his experience there and the research he did following Chase would have been anti-refugee, too. So we totally get it! If you are just listening to the media, you are going to be terrified. If not terrified of the refugees than whatever virus or presidential candidate, or whatever. There job is to hype everything up, make it worse than it is and then we keep listening and tuning in. I have found that if you stop listening to the media, it gives you a chance to calm down, think research and come to better conclusions than I had been. 🙂 Okay, so…
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father,inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25
This is a tough passage. Pretty in-your-face and black and white, right? I don’t know about you but at times it makes me uncomfortable. And have you heard Keith Green’s musical version??? Oy. So, so, so, good. The “goats” talking back to the Lord is just exactly like us. (And epic hair, am I right???) If you don’t know, Keith Green is the Father of modern worship music and has amazing lyrics and powerful testimony. Anyhow, check out that song! 😉
But this sheep and the goats passage keeps coming to mind when I watch news and ministries regarding the refugee crises all over the world. And largely, our response has been sad, selfish, and misinformed.
“The idea of holding back certainly didn’t come from Scripture. The Bible teaches us to be consumed with Christ and to faithfully live out His words. The Holy Spirit stirs in us a joy and peace when we are fixated on Jesus, living by faith, and focused on the life to come.”- Francis Chan Crazy Love
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” -C.S. Lewis
“But Gina, these refugees are dangerous! They come from extremist Muslim countries!” Well, let me point out that yes, many do come from countries run by extremist Muslims, that is why they are running. These families are not extreme enough and would be (and are!) tortured and/or murdered for not joining the extremists. They don’t want war, they want to be able to live and raise their children and provide for their families. Instead they are running with the clothes on their backs. Refugees are NOT extremists.
But let’s say, just for a minute that one or two of them, no, let’s even say all of them DO turn out to be extreme down the road. Does that negate our responsibility to protect and provide for them now? Are we really okay letting babies, mothers, fathers, grandparents starve, drown and die of exposure or forced to fight wars because it might somehow in someway affect our safety??? Are we hearing ourselves?
“Haven’t we all prayed the following prayer? Lord, we pray for safety as we travel. we ask that no one gets hurt on this trip. Please keep everyone safe until we return, and bring us back safely. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen. The exact wording may vary a bit, but it is the standard prayer we recite before leaving on mission trips, retreats, vacations, and business trips.
“We are consumed by safety. Obsessed with it, actually. Now, I’m not saying it is wrong to pray for God’s protection, but I am questioning how we’ve made safety our highest priority. We’ve elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God’s best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world.
“Would you be willing to pray this prayer? God, bring me closer to You during this trip, whatever it takes…
“People who are obsessed with Jesus aren’t consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people care more about God’s kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress.” -Francis Chan Crazy Love
Believe me when I say that it is not easy for me to lay aside my own feelings of personal safety. I am obsessed with safety. I am. Relinquishing the control (I feel I have) to God in an effort to trust Him more in whatever capacity He would have me is hard.
But again, the refugees coming to America are not dangerous. There have been no acts of terrorism committed by refugees *in America*. Zero. None. Do the research.
But even if they were, I believe our responsibility is the same.
Remember Saul in the Bible? Let’s review for a second because it is such an amazing story and we just gloss over it. Saul, a super pious, high-up-in-the-church Pharisee. They did not come more religious than Saul. He was so religious in fact, he dedicated his life to wiping out the Christians because they taught things other than what he had studied and believed his whole life. He was on a mission to eradicate the world of Jesus followers and he was doing a pretty good job. The Church was scared of him and for good reason (humanly speaking.) Until one day, when Jesus revealed himself to Saul, saved him and gave him a new mission. He became Paul and a Christian. He went from killing Christians to being one in a moment. There was another man named Ananias, whom the Lord spoke to in a dream. The Lord told him to go to Saul and minister to him. Understandably, Ananias is like, “Say what?!? The guy who kills and imprisons us with the government’s blessing? You want me to go talk to that guy?!?” The Lord said yes and that Saul was going to be an “instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and children of Israel.” So Ananias went. How scary would that be? Even with a literal conversation with God, that would be scary. Saul had been legitimately dangerous. But Ananias was obedient. He trusted, and He recognized that no matter what, God was sovereign. Ananias is a hero! Where would Christianity be if he had said no to God and took his personal safety more seriously?
It reminds me of what Nate Saint, the missionary to Ecuador told his son when they were trying to reach a headhunting tribe. His son asked if his father and the other missionary men visiting the head-hunters would use guns to protect themselves if they were attacked. I don’t remember the exact quote but it went something along the lines of “No, if they kill us, we go to heaven. If we kill them to protect ourselves we are sending them to hell.” And they did indeed go to heaven for it…and the whole tribe came to know Christ as a result of their testimony.
What exactly is the point of our lives here on earth? To protect America? To ignore the plights of others so we can go about our day? Or to glorify God with our lives and whatever He asks us to do? Because He is worthy.
***Just a side-note, people assume that because we are for welcoming refugees that that means we believe we should open our borders and blindly let whomever walk in despite their allegiance, ties, and extreme views. Nope. There is a very good screening system in place that we *are for*, because there is a place for wisdom and discretion in all things, correct? There is a happy medium here.*** Read about just how hard it is and how long it takes for a refugee to be allowed into the US. It is the hardest way to get here. http://www.newsweek.com/heres-process-refugees-have-go-through-enter-us-398254 There are much easier ways for terrorists to come…and they do…and they are home grown as well.
But Gina, what about our veterans? Shouldn’t we take care of our own before we take on the responsibilities of the rest of the world? Absolutely we should! But don’t let the nothing we do for our homeless veterans stop you from doing something for the world’s refugees! Do something for our veterans! Do it! What can we change? How can we help? But don’t use our veterans as an excuse to ignore the millions of suffering, displaced, people around the world. Have you done anything for veterans in the past year? People have been throwing out the help-the-veterans excuse for a long time now…and nothing for them has changed. They are just memes we post on fb to make us feel better about turning a blind eye to the rest of the world. I have no idea how to help our vets but if you do, share and let’s get busy! But also, I hope I don’t sound callous, but even the poor care our vets get is so much better than what millions of refugees are facing right now.
Captain Awesome spent some time a couple of years ago in Iraq, Jordan and Egypt in refugee camps. It has forever changed us and how we look at things. He met countless Christians, Muslims and Yazidi people with many things in common: they had run from their homes (many times literally running on foot), they could not return, they lost friends and family, (many times murdered in front of them) they were homeless and most of the time not able to get jobs to provide for their families due to the laws of the country that is housing them. Can you even imagine that? Homeless, jobless, completely dependent on whomever will help you and let you come in their country. Which is just about no one. Shame on us.
While in the Middle East, Chase met a man who had been forced to kill his teen daughters while they were trying to escape ISIS. Their car had been surrounded and was covered in ISIS soldiers who would have taken his daughters as sex slaves, so he shot each daughter as they sat in the back seat. When they were dead, the soldiers left and an utterly devastated father was able to leave. That is just one story…out of the few that Chase has been able to share. He doesn’t share much. Did you know the pastors over there helping the refugees are suffering from PTSD just hearing the stories and seeing the people???
But you know, terrorism and homeless veterans. *sarcasm*
Let me be clear, I LOVE my country. Like, LOVE it. I hold dear my country, her founders, her ideals and especially the freedoms we have here. We live in the best country in the world, with all her faults. (Have you watched America: What is so Great About Her?” Because everyone should. SO good!) But I have heard gobs of lectures by Chase on the fact that our country and our freedoms here have become an idol. We love them more than we love people. Instead of using our freedoms to reach the world, we have become self-focused and use our freedoms as an excuse not to minister to the world.
Did you guys have to memorize that poem, written for the Statue of Liberty “The New Colossus” in school? I did, and I keep hearing it over and over again when I look at the faces of these refugees.
“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“”Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I have been learning more and more about how the US treated the refugee situation during World War 2. We wouldn’t allow Jews in because of their seeming Communist ties at the time! Anne Frank and her family were denied refugee status in the US because of that. http://www.snopes.com/anne-frank-refugee/ Devastatingly sad. And unnecessary. All because a few people told all the people that the Jews were dangerous. Sounds far too familiar.
How many decades have we been praying for the people and the Muslims in the Middle East? There are SEVENTEEN un-reached people groups in Syria alone. They have never heard a comma of the gospel, and now they could show up at our door!!! The literal mission field could come to your neighborhood! We could reach these people with the GOSPEL!!!! Except we can’t. Because we won’t let them in.
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ Matthew 25:44, 45
“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17
Also, when we respond out of fear like this…*FEAR* is getting the best of us. I don’t think I even need to quote any of the scriptures that deal with fear. But that is where so many of us (I was certainly there!) are operating when it comes to the refugee situation. Fear. “God has not given us the spirit of fear”…okay, I will quote one anyway, “but of power, of love and of a sound mind.”
-The show 20/20 did a great story last December about a refugee camp in Iraq. This is a camp Chase worked in a bit and loves and highly respects Father Douglas. If you want to hear more about him, Chase has cool stories. Such a great guy with a crazy history. 🙂 When Chase was there, the refugees were living in canvas tents! Those boxcars are a step-up which is good. Although still not a permanent solution. You can watch the episode here on YouTube or read the story and watch the episode here.
-Heartbreaking story about brothers playing in Syria: https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/videos/10153805222871939/
-Devastating and beautiful: http://annvoskamp.com/2016/12/the-world-changing-art-of-not-being-a-sham-this-christmas/
So how can we help??? Here are some of my favorite ways to help! Follow them on FB and Instagram! The stories are heartbreaking and sometimes beautiful.
Carry the Future I am a BIG fan of babywearing so I can totally imagine how much easier walking country to country can be with a baby carrier. They collect and outfit refugees coming off the rafts with baby carriers, and supplies. They throw baby showers for the Mom’s that are now living in the area with no where to go. You can send your baby carrier, snacks, supplies, or money for a baby care package. You can also volunteer to go to Greece to help with all of these things. I am dying to go but for now am sending my extra carriers. Not a Christian organization, but a fabulous one.
Samaritan’s Purse’s work with the refugees in Greece This IS a Christian organization and a wonderful one.
http://www.wewelcomerefugees.com is amazing and we are hoping to work with them soon! They connect churches and individuals with refugees coming to their area so the refugees can be ministered to! They put out daily advent prayers for the refugees during the Christmas season which really blessed me and reminded me to be thankful for all I have been given and also to lift them up in prayer. Currently, they post individual refugee’s stories. They are amazing.
One more random thought: As Christians, and especially ones that call ourselves pro-life, it is so wrong of us to discount human lives as less than deserving because of who they worship or where they live. I don’t always get this right, but the Lord is really working on me in this area.
You can disagree with me and that is okay, we all have our opinions, but it is important that we consider views other than our own. If we don’t are we really that knowledgeable on the topic? Something else I have been learning. 😉
Lord, may the Church arise and fulfill her calling to reach the lost, the hurting, dying, imprisoned, and needy. Whatever that looks like. May we be consumed with Your glory above all else. Amen.