What Others Say

Thank you for writing the article in Saturday's edition of New Castle News. It was very good and very interesting. You bring it all to light, making everything very simple and easy to understand. - Kathy L. - New Castle, Pennsylvania

Monday, June 20, 2016

Rescue the Refugee

We have always thought of ourselves as a nation of courage and hope.  Few statements reflect our identity better than the quote affixed to the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.”  There is something sacred about Ellis Island, the entry point for so many who came in response to the beacon of life and liberty.  Most of us are descendants of those who came.

Facing severe persecution in the civil wars that swept across Liberia, thousands fled to the United States in the last decade. A few weeks ago I attended the building dedication for Ebenezer Liberian Church in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.  More than a thousand people showed up.  They filled the auditorium and spilled over into corridors and classrooms.  I was inspired by their hymns, songs and testimonies to God's goodness and grace.

Four decades ago I visited Vietnamese refugee camps in central Texas.  Most were “boat people” who fled persecution and poverty after the fall of South Vietnam. We picked them up with buses and brought them to our church, even though most spoke little English. A few members in our church resented their presence, but most reached out with the compassion of Christ. Today more than 1.5 million Vietnamese call America home. The largest Christian Vietnamese church has over 4,000 members and the number of Vietnamese Christians is growing.

In Minnesota I met Hmong Christian leaders.  The Hmong were Animists from the hill country of Laos and close allies to the U.S. during the Vietnam War.  They fled brutal persecution and sought refuge in America.  More than ¼ million now live in the U.S. Many have embraced Christ. There are now more than 140 Hmong Christian churches in the United States, most in Minnesota, Wisconsin and California.  Their children are attending college and moving into professional ranks.

Today the oppression in Syria represents the world’s greatest refugee crisis. 11 million Syrians, more than half of them children, have fled the brutal attacks by ISIS. Most of them are Muslim. But many Christian organizations are reaching out to these refugees providing shelter, blankets, water, food and comfort. Virtually every denomination is represented as well as para-church groups like Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision.

When Jesus introduced himself to the synagogue in his hometown at Nazareth, he infuriated the crowd by stating that God loved the Syrians. He reminded them that Elisha healed a Syrian leper when there were many lepers in Israel. They were so enraged they tried to throw Jesus off a high cliff.  (Luke 4:16-30).

We are always afraid and suspicious of people who are different than we are. But “perfect love casts out fear.”  Isaiah says, “Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees.  Let the fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer. The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land.”  (Isaiah 16:3-4).


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  2. Can you imagine how many Muslim people would come to know Christ if the USA, specifically Christians, would fling theirs arms wide open and receive them with the spirit of hospitality, courage, trust and brotherly love? Sure, it makes us sort of vulnerable. But aren't we making ourselves MORE vulnerable by rejecting folks that are being left in a place where only ISIS is offering them financial support, food and aid when the rest of the world is turning their back on them? Aren't we making ourselves more targeted and vulnerable by letting xenophobia (fear of those who are different cultures) make us look so cold and calloused and angry? We are always at risk, that's just a fact. Most acts of terrorism in our country committed by Caucasian males, are we going to start policing them more? Of course not. We cannot let the irrational, insane acts of a few determine how we respond to the larger group. We will be held responsible before God one day for how we reacted and responded- we aren't held liable for other people's actions against us. We are called to love, care for the orphan and widow, welcome the stranger. I don't see any conditions on those instructions - and God foreknew all that we'd encounter! He isn't taken by surprise! And he still tells us to do these things,in love. What an impact on the world we'd make if we responded in lavish, unconditional, love. We'd look so different, like a light on a stand, a city on a hill. We'd see people coming to know Jesus by the masses! People in the lowest season of their lives, desperate, destitute, full of pain and fear and hunger; parents, children... We cannot let fear cause us to reject them. If we do, terrorism has won. We are allowing them to control us and to prevent us from living out the Gospel. It's time to be courageous, Church! For such a time as this! Esther 4:14

  3. Thank you very much for your thoughtful and Christ centered articles. You bless my heart. Mulenga