[Editor’s Note: Not all post will have an opposing response. If you disagree with this one, please make your case in the comments.]
by Doris Horton Murdoch
Yes, Americans are morally obligated to resettle Syrian refugees. This resettlement assistance of any global group of oppressed persons is a collective international responsibility. According to World Vision, there are 13.5 million people in Syria needing humanitarian assistance. The total population in (2013) is 22.85 million. So more than half of the population needs humanitarian care.
There are 4.3 million refugees and 6.6 million displaced in Syria and half of these displaced individuals are children. Most of the Syrian refugees have remained in the Middle Eastern countries. Only about 10% of the Syrian refugees have moved into Europe. The United States has pledged to take 10,000 refugees in 2016 with fewer than 2000 finding refuge in the United States in 2015. The United States is a large country in land mass and is the 7th wealthiest country in the world (US Insider). As a world leader, is the United States really doing our equal share by accepting 10,000 refugees?
What do our American values prompt the nation to do in this resettlement issue? As a nation under God, what does scripture tell us to do with refugees? How does the Great Commission direct our efforts in an evangelism opportunity? Is it possible that our American values, God’s Word, and a missional opportunity are weaving a tapestry of final judgment for the end times?
America is built on the respect of human values. The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal; endowed by their Creator (For those of the Abrahamic faiths [Christian, Jew, Muslim], this is God and/or Allah and/or YHWH and/or Jehovah.) with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As Americans, do we truly believe in these rights for all people or for a select few and, if so, who are the select?
Throughout history, America has been composed of immigrant populations seeking peace free of oppression and violence, job opportunities, religious freedoms, security and hope for a better life. Are we now consumed in the idea of survival of self with prosperity in life of the select? As I type this term select again and again, I’m convicted to look at my own inner prejudices, fears and desires. I believe Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk and writer, would respond to select with, “Our job is to love others (all of the world) whether not they are worthy.” It is not for us, as Americans, to judge the people of the world. As Americans, we are to offer love, respect and humanitarian assistance in as many ways as possible, even if it means allowing Syrian refugees to resettle on American soil. As a nation under God, it is our commission to open our arms and hearts to all, especially the marginalized people of the world, in this argument, Syrian refugees.
The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) tells us to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This same scripture states that God is with us always. We’re reminded in scripture that God is always with us, so we never stand alone. Where is our faith and hope in Jesus Christ? Jesus is my Savior. He is your Savior and He is the Savior of and for the world. In Jeremiah 22:3, we read, Thus says the Lord, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place. Through scripture, we are commanded to respond with righteousness and justice. We aid in delivering others from the oppressors. We oppose the shedding of innocent blood. We oppose violence and mistreatment of the weak to include children, women, elderly, disabled, refugees, etc.,—the marginalized.
As we continue to scan through the Bible, we read about Boaz assisting a refugee as he allowed Ruth to glean sheaves of wheat from his fields (Ruth 2). In Matthew 2:13-14, we read how Joseph, Mary and infant Jesus refugees and fled to Egypt for safety from the violence and oppression of King Herod. We read about the good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-35. Are we the priest, the Levite or the Samaritan? Malachi 3:5 warns against judgment if we turn aside the alien and do not fear Me (God). We are all aliens, sojourners or refugees of this world; the earth is the Lord’s and we’re only borrowing the earth for a time. Leviticus 25:23 speaks of this; we only leave the refugee position when we are redeemed through Jesus Christ and our permanent home becomes eternal in God’s Kingdom. So, technically, we’re no different than Syrian refugees. Isaiah 16:4 instructs us to be a hiding place for the outcasts or marginalized. When we reject refugees for fear of our own personal safety, are we truly displaying Christian behavior? II Samuel 22:3 states, My God, my Rock, in whom I take refuge, My Shield and the horn of my Salvation, my Stronghold and my Refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. If we really believe this scripture as the Truth, fellow followers of God, then why do we fear for our own safety from common humanity?
Culture is all that separates us from others, within the United States and the world. Our human needs are the same. The concepts of courage, fear, joy, compassion, pain, etc. are felt by all people of this earth. As Americans, we are blessed to live in a country like the United States. As a blessed nation with many believers in Jesus Christ, is it possible that God is bringing unreached people (Muslims) to the USA? Could God be providing an opportunity for victory in the gospel word of Jesus Christ? In our churches, we: pray for world evangelism; send missionaries to witness to unbelieving populations of the world; and we provide humanitarian aid and support through much of the world. About 4 million broken people of Muslim faith desire to move westward (McCrabb). As Christians, we must stand up in this refugee crisis and approach it as a gospel opportunity.
As living and faithful Christians, we are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh (II Corinthians 3:2-18). The Holy Spirit has literally written on our hearts and we are daily being transformed in righteousness for the glory of God. Someday, as transformed beings, we will approach the throne of God and finally clearly see and understand Him. So out of 10,000 refugees, one terrorist steps forward in violence, do we reject the other 9,999 refugees (half of them children) for our personal safety? In this decision, we’re refusing the God of hope and accepting the god of this world. We must take courage for the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must shut out the fearful voices of this world and focus our eyes on Jesus, our Strength and our Redeemer.
Baig, Mehroz. “International Collective Action for Refugees is Slow but Crucial. 2015.
Crabb, David. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/building-his-church-in-a-refugee-crisis . 2015.
Goddard, Anne. “The Case for Empathy”. 2015
Gregoire, Carolyn. http://huffingtonpost.com/entry/refugee-crisis-mental-health_55f9b694edf55c73. 2015.
Jesse, Andreozzi. “Turning Away Syrian Refugees is Exactly What ISIS Wants”. 2015.
Mavromichalis, Margarita. “From Athens: The Human Face of the Refugee Crisis. 2015.
Merton, Thomas. Christian History. “In Defiance of the Gods”. Issue 116. P.43. 2015.
Sprinkle, Preston. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theologyintheraw/2015/11/a-christian-response-to-the-syrian-refugee-crisis . 2015.
The U.S. National Archives & Records Administration. www.archives. 2015.
World Vision. http://worldvision.org/news-stories-videos/syria-war-refugee-crisis . 2015.