Archive for December, 2015

December 1, 2015

Welcome the Foreigner (December)

We have received a gracious opportunity to live out our faith and be more like our Father in Heaven. There is a dire situation in Syria created by their 4-year civil war, the largest refugee crisis since World War II, and we Christians around the world have been given the resources to be a “light in the world” for these millions of refugees.

Many Syrian refugees have been welcomed by over 50 countries around the world, Turkey bearing most of the load. Americans have hotly debated whether to take on more of the load with concerns about security. While security is a matter to take seriously, we have many who serve in Homeland Security and the State Department who ensure through their rigorous and tested process that foreigners will be welcomed safely. We pray God continues to give them wisdom.

The risk is real, but the question still remains. Will this country open its arms to the foreigner in need? Will we Christians as representatives of God’s Kingdom open our arms? It has not always been the case. In 1939, as Hitler was persecuting Jews and months before WWII began, Jews were escaping with their lives. The majority of Americans (I imagine many of them were Christian) refused to accept them as refugees. Some sailed to American shores only to be turned away back to Europe.

Today we see Syrians escaping with their lives from their war-torn homes. Some people have labeled them as “Muslim refugees,” but little do they know that a large fraction of Syrians are Christian, about 2.5 million. It was on the road to Damascus, Syria that Jesus met Paul. It was in ancient Syria that the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians.” In this “cradle of Christianity,” brothers and sisters have been witnessing to Jesus for two millennia up until today. Often, it is the Christians forced from their homes and ancient churches by the government and revolutionaries who are looking for a place to raise their children away from war.

Regardless of their faith or ethnicity, we are commanded to help people in danger. Jesus reminds us of this through the Good Samaritan who helped a Jew in danger despite the mutual hatred between Jews and Samaritans. The Syrian refugees are at the side of the proverbial road, looking for a Good Samaritan to show them the hospitality of Jesus.

After the Hebrews were rescued from slavery in Egypt, God gave them this command: “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt (Deuteronomy 10:19 NIV).” The people of God know well what it is like to be a foreigner, beginning with Abraham, then with the Hebrews in Egypt and later under Babylonian and Roman rule, and now us Christians today. We are called foreigners in this world, anticipating the coming of God’s Kingdom (1 Peter 2:9-11). Let us extend the same mercy to foreigners today as God extends to us every day.

Pastor Rich