Disclaimer: This post is not intended to be a political post but instead focuses on the obligation and morals Christians have to refugees and speaking out against wrongdoings.
Friday January 27, 2017 was a sad day. It was a day of remembrance for the Holocaust and the day an Executive Order was signed barring Muslim refugees from seven countries from entering the United States. A link to the full text of the order can be found at the bottom of this post.
On my trip to Israel earlier this month, I had the privilege of visiting Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center and hearing a Holocaust survivor speak. My entire group was asked to make a promise – a promise that we would not stand by silently when we saw people being targeted. Many of us cried over various exhibitions and I clearly remember the one that triggered my tears. It was the cartoon pictured below depicting when we turned away an entire boat of Jewish refugees. It broke my heart because we’re still doing this today and as of Friday, we are discriminating through presidential means and hiding it behind a false sense of security.
I agree that we don’t want radical Islamic terrorists in our country but discriminating against a religious group is not the answer. The bible clearly tells us how we should treat foreigners and refugees. I have been a foreigner in a foreign land and it’s not easy. I was there for work and I loved it but it’s not easy. It’s a different language (though I was spoiled because so many people speak English) and a different culture with different food and protocols. It’s overwhelming.
Many refugees don’t want to be here. They want to be home but that’s not an option. If their homeland was safe do you think they’d risk everything by getting onto a little rubber dinghy, overflowing with people in the hope that they survive and make it to Europe?
We have an Executive Order banning people from entering and we’re building a wall to keep Mexicans out. We are allowing fear to define our policies and to normalize discrimination but the Bible says we are to welcome the foreigner.
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself.” – Leviticus 20:33-34 (ESV)
The Bible tells us to tend to the needs of those around us and to remember that we are foreigners.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” – Matthew 25:35-36
In 1 Peter 2:11, Peter calls us “temporary residents and foreigners”. As Christians we cannot remain silent and watch this happen. We cannot wash our hands and turn a blind eye. We cannot be apathetic towards the plight of other human beings. We are all one and God wants us to take care of those who need it. Being a Christian holds us to a higher standard where we cannot allow the fear of someone else’s opinion to keep us quiet. We must be a voice for the voiceless.
One of the quotes at Vad Yashem that convicted me was from a Protestant pastor, named Martin Niemoller, who said:
“First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out – Because I was not
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I
was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”
I hope I am wrong in what I see but this Executive Order sets a dangerous precedent and in fact makes me think history may be repeating itself. The Executive Order has immediately banned all refugees from Syria and six other countries. While this news is upsetting and disheartening please remember that our hope comes not from political leaders but from Jesus Christ and the gift of the cross.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on Christian responsibilities to refugees and what you think of this. We also ask that you pray for our country and our leadership.
For those who are interested in reading the entire executive order, I found the text here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-muslim-refugee-ban-full-text-of-executive-order-immigration-a7550741.html