The Christian Response to Refugees and Immigrants

Within our nation and around the world, a debate is raging about immigrants, and whether they should be invited or allowed into countries across Europe---even here. This issue isn't a new one to our country, it's been one we've been debating for years. While I certainly have my views in regard to this debate, the question is, what should our response as Christians be? The fact is, there are many refugees fleeing dangerous situations in their home countries around the world, both near and far. As a result of their very real fears and hopes for a better life, they are entering these countries both legally and illegally. One of the fears of many is that terrorists or drug cartels are getting in with the refugees, lost in a sea of humanity. Is this fear a just and valid one? Absolutely. However, due to their evil natures, they will find a way in regardless.

But in our fervor to keep these kinds of individuals out, we’re only hurting the ones who really, desperately need to enter the country for their own safety. Or for the safety of their children. For what parent wouldn't do just about anything to ensure the safety of their children? A Mexican-American pastor friend of Troy's, Alberto, recently discovered just how far two parents were willing to go for their son's safety.

On a trip with his son to the park to play soccer, pastor Alberto struck up a conversation with a talkative young boy as he watched from the sideline. After chatting about many things, the young boy suddenly said, "I need to talk to my mom!" then proceeded to get his dad’s phone from his belongings.  As he was doing so, Alberto replied to the boy, "You’ll see your mom soon. Why don't you watch your dad as he plays so that when you get home, you can tell you mom about how well he played." That started the following conversation:

    "But my mom isn't at home." 
    "Where is she?” asked Alberto, thinking that she was perhaps at the store or running some errands.
    "She is in Honduras."
    "Honduras?!  Why are you here and not with your mom?" 
    "Because she called my dad and told him he had to come and get me. She told him I was in danger because I am a boy."

Troy’s friend then asked this little guy how he’d made it to the US.  The boy shared with him of their journey which included crossing through the desert in order to make it back.  When he finished detailing their journey, he looked at Alberto and said, "I will never forget going through the desert as long as a live."  Shocked by the candor of this young boy, the fact that he knew his life was in danger just because he was a boy, and the story he told of making their way through the desert, he asked, "How old are you?"  To which the young boy replied, "I'm 4."

In order to truly understand why this mother was so terrified for her son’s safety, we need only read the Honduras Travel Warning, posted by our government online. The following is taken directly from the report:

“Crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country. The Government of Honduras lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases, and police often lack vehicles or fuel to respond to calls for assistance. The police may take hours to arrive at the scene of a violent crime or may not respond at all. Members of the Honduran National Police have been arrested, tried, and convicted for criminal activities. Many more are under investigation. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout Honduras.... Honduras has had one of the highest murder rates in the world for the last five years.” (1)

And this snippet from an article from truth-out.org:

"Honduras is one of the most violent nations in the world. The situation in the country’s second largest city, San Pedro Sula, demonstrates the depth of the problem. For the fourth year running, San Pedro Sula has been one of the most dangerous places on the planet outside of a war zone. Its murder rate in 2014 was an astonishing 171 per 100,000. The city, which is caught in the crossfire between vicious criminal gangs, has been the largest source of the 18,000 Honduran children who have fled to the United States in recent years.... The vast majority of killings in Honduras are carried out with impunity. For example, 97 percent of the murders in San Pedro Sula go unsolved." (2)

We need to understand that the overwhelming majority of the people coming into our country illegally are not doing it to thumb their noses at our legal system. They’re not here with the express purpose of stealing our jobs and collecting as much welfare as they can. And while I understand the concern about the drain on our economy, let me gently point out that taking care of them, helping them, is not the government’s job. I believe Jesus would have this be the role of the church.

Nowhere in the Bible does it state we are only to take care of those of our own nationality. Let’s consider Luke 10:29-37. In this passage, Jesus told a parable about an Israelite man who was journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the road, he was robbed, beaten, and left for dead. Two men -- his own countrymen, two religious leaders! -- passed him by and did nothing to help him. One man stopped to help him. He put him on his own donkey, took him to an inn, tended to him, then paid the inn keeper for his care, all without expecting anything in return. Who was this man? This “good Samaritan”? A literal Samaritan, considered the dogs of society by the Israelites. To the rest of the Jewish nation, this man was a mere peasant in the social structure. Yet he was the one, not the man’s own countrymen, who offered aid.

God’s message is clear: we are to help those in need. Regardless of who they are. Many are concerned about the president’s consideration to offer aid to the Syrian refugees. Is there the possibility we open a door to terrorists and drug lords when we open our doors in welcome? Yes. As I said before, however, they will find a way in regardless. And as Christians, are we really prepared to stand before God on judgment day and say, “I’m sorry we didn’t help the needy. We were afraid of what might happen,” when asked, “Why didn’t you feed My sheep? Why didn’t you clothe My children? Why didn’t you care for My lost?” I don’t know about you, but that’s one conversation I don’t want to have with God.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." (ESV) Friends, we know where fear comes from. And of course the enemy doesn't want us being the hands and feet of Jesus. He doesn't want anyone to come to Christ! His design is to paralyze us with fear, preventing us from acting.

Perhaps it’s time we in the church stop pointing fingers of responsibility and boldly ask God what He would have us do. How He would have us care for these lost children, trusting Him that His perfect will shall be carried out.

(Links - (1) http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/honduras-travel-warning.html; (2) http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/29431-can-the-violence-in-honduras-be-stopped)

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