A Compassionate Christian Response to the Refugee Crisis :: by Howard Green

Put yourself in this situation for a moment: Imagine receiving an urgent call from your pastor and he explains that a wonderful young family from your church needs somewhere to stay for a month or so while they try to get their lives in order. The husband was terminated without notice due to no fault of his own. The once thriving small business he worked for just lost several large contracts they had counted on for continuing revenue.

Now this young provider and half of the staff at the business were let go, a few weeks ago. This young family has very little savings and they have a newborn, so his wife can’t work at this time. They are two days away from eviction and have been ordered to leave the apartment immediately. The husband was an exemplary employee and should have no problem finding new employment. This family just needs a few months in a safe environment to save and get back on their feet. Your pastor asks if you can help. What would you do?

Put yourself in this second situation for a moment: You receive a call from a man who is a staff member at church. He tells you about a guy that has fallen on hard times and just needs some help, a place to stay, and some practical needs met. He goes on to explain that the guy has been involved in church and says he is a Christian. The staff member asks if you will take the man into your home until he gets back on his feet.

For our scenario, let’s imagine that you are a dad or mom with two fun little boys and a daughter who just turned sixteen. Dad goes away on business Monday through Thursday and is home for long weekends. The staff member at church is just like you in the same way; he loves people, he is compassionate, and has a heart for the least of these.

The guy who needs help told the staff member that he was a Christian, he just needs a place to stay for a while, and he even is willing to volunteer wherever help is needed. In the flurry of busyness life throws our way, the well meaning staff member didn’t think to ask more about the background of the guy who needs help. Just before the staff member hangs up the phone, he asks you to consider taking this man into your home while he gets back on his feet. What would you do?

Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues,and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Let’s consider the first situation and respond accordingly with several answers that will show our compassion, our motives, and where our heart is:

You talk the issue over with your wife and decide to have the couple and their children over for dinner. After dinner, you have a good discussion about ways you can practically help this young couple and the kids. It turns out that a mutual friend and the young dad were friends in the military and the man needing help is a person of genuine good character. You and your wife tell the young couple that you will call them in the morning to discuss your answer.

In answer one:As you and your spouse discuss the matter, it becomes clear your wife doesn’t want to take the young family in. She says, “We only have two and a half bathrooms and four bedrooms. How can we save for vacation with the extra expense, and deal with our kid’s soccer schedule? I barely have time for myself, let alone anyone else. Let’s give them $100 and tell them we’ll pray for them.” Is this response compassionate or uncompassionate?

In answer two: The couple leaves after dinner and your wife begins to tear and wants to pray for this family. She is moved with Christ’s compassion for this young family and being a mom herself, she knows what it means to have safety and security. She tells you, “I know it will be a bit crowded, but we will make it work and besides…it will be good to have a sister to grow with and walk through this difficult time with.”

You not only “pray about it,” you decide to take action and call the couple that night and give them the good news. You take some of the vacation money you were saving and put it aside to rent a moving truck and pay ahead 2 months at a local storage facility to secure the couple’s furniture. Is this response compassionate or uncompassionate?

Let’s consider the second situation and respond accordingly with several answers that will show our compassion, our motives, and where our heart is:

You and your wife pray about this situation about the guy from church who needs to get back on his feet. You decide to do some checking into the guy’s background and find out he went to prison for sexual battery. He was a repeat offender, but his sentence was reduced for good behavior. He is now on probation and registered as a sex offender. He did his time and is a broken man, he is truly repentant. Here is the thing, after prison…this man voluntarily went to extensive Christian counseling and he genuinely became a Christian. He has taken steps to better his life, he wants to continue to pay back his debt to society, and he will not hide his past, but honestly tell you he did wrong.

In answer one: You discuss this with your wife and you tell her that you flat out don’t want this creep in your home. You believe he probably had a jailhouse conversion and tell your wife, “He belongs on the street for what he did and he’s not our problem! There is no way we are helping this guy!” Is this response compassionate or uncompassionate?

In answer two: You discuss the situation with your wife and you both decide on a way to help show the love of Christ in a tangible way and this includes caring for this man on a soul level. You and your wife take the money you put aside for compassion ministry and take action. You call the staff member the next morning and you tell him your plans. You already paid for a long-term stay lodging facility to give the man about two months to save money from a job for which he was just hired.

This way he will have time to get on his feet and get his own apartment soon. You (the husband only) meet with this man and after sometime it becomes quite clear that his Christianity is genuine. It also becomes clear that he still struggles with temptations from his past. You don’t judge him, but as a brother you pray for him with a heart motive that emulates, “But for the grace of God…there go I also.”

You know that all sin is sin and God forgave you of much. You meet for Bible study and a few months later, the guy gets his own place and on is on his feet. He called the electric company to have his new service turned on, but the representative told him two months have been paid in advance. You and this man maintain a friendship as brothers in the Lord. Your wife takes an active role by continuing to pray for this man all the while remaining anonymous. Is this response compassionate or uncompassionate?

In both scenarios, the clear compassionate Christ-like response was the second answer.So how can we be wise and harmless while engaging this very real refugee crisis in light of Islamic terrorism?

The preceding scenarios mirror a lot of responses I have heard from Christians about how to deal with the refugee crisis. I don’t want to take a lot of space in this article documenting the facts surrounding the crisis. They are out there for anyone who is willing to exercise the due diligence to find the out the facts surrounding the refugee crisis. We have heard the calls from some “compassionate Christians” to let the refugees in and give them a safe haven as an expression of Christ’s love. On the other extreme, some “Christians” have taken a hard-line stance and want to ensure safety at all costs…even if that means rejecting the least of these.

To be clear… the crisis is commonly referred to as the Syrian refugee crisis. The truth is that there are (some) women, children, and families, who are truly seeking a safe haven from the horrors of war in Syria and Iraq. I witnessed some of the deplorable conditions caused by war when I was in Iraq for several years. Now with the atrocities that ISIS engaged in, the situation has become dire for many innocent civilians in that dark region. People are thrown off buildings, crucified, and burned alive…all evil acts goaded on by a barbaric Islamic ideology.

Everybody has an opinion about how to handle the crisis. Politicians on both sides will wrangle and jockey for position to implement their ideal solutions. Here is the thing: Wholesale free passage and flinging the gates wide open is not the way to handle the refugee crisis. This has become all too clear in the wake of Paris, Brussels, and Germany.

The threatand actsof violence against the innocent show that we can’t allow for free entry into the West. We know numerous terrorists have already infiltrated the ranks of fleeing refugees. We know that was the stated strategy ISIS has declared to implement to infiltrate the West. We also know that there is no safe haven in Syria or Iraq for the many innocent civilians fleeing the violence in their homeland.

I agree with many officials in the national security and intelligence communities that we must do something now to ensure security. We need a genuine vetting process for refugees that works. Arab nations need to stand up and take some responsibility and offer safe havens for these people as well. UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other “moderates” should open their doors to fellow Muslims in their time of need. All of these ideas are well and good, but there is another component to this issue and we have already touched on it earlier.

It is the component of Christians and how are we to respond to this very real human crisis because some in their ranks do represent the “least of these.” Sometimes in being too careful, we inadvertently close our eyes to real people and real needs.

Even in my own assessment of this issue, I find myself having Christ’s compassion for the moms and the little beautiful dark haired dark-eyed children and wanting to help in a tangible way. I remember the horror I felt seeing that little boy washed up on that beach in Turkey after drowning while crossing the Mediterranean. I also find myself angry, protective, and fearful as I see the hurt families of those killed mercilessly in Paris under the banner of Islam.

Do I believe all Muslims are evil? Of course not, and I know that just because someone is from the Middle East, it doesn’t make him a terrorist. That’s ignorant and certainly not thinking in a Christian way. What I’m guarded against is the actions of people who mean to do us harm, actions like those who are committing evil in Paris, Mali, Brussels, and the people listed below:

There are clear dangers facing the West and we are not immune to them here in the US. Middle Eastern men have been caught trying to slip into Texas and Arizona. At least four Middle Eastern men were pulled over by a state trooper on the Ohio turnpike and arrested for a number of charges and they had equipment for duplicating credit cards in their possession. They are not US. citizens and the news is that their passports may be revoked.

There have been numerous reports of Middle Eastern men trying to get phony documents in Honduras in an attempt to make it across the US. Mexico border. These events are just a few I mentioned out of dozens that happened in just this past week alone. There is a concerted effort to undermine the system by terrorists who are bent on causing death and destruction in this country.

It is true that there are refugees who need our help and compassion. As believers, it is biblical and Christ-like to help them. But it is sheer ignorance to say all people coming into the West with the influx of refugees are predominantly widows and orphans. A sizable percentage of the people coming into Europe are fighting age men.

Some are escaping the slaughter, while some are intent on bringing slaughter with them. Be intentional about doing good to the least of these. Be equally intentional about not burying your head in the sand and ignoring the fact that some of these people want to kill you because you are a Christian, Jew, a woman who doesn’t wear a hijab or a girl who gets to attend school…that is the reality of the barbaric belief system which we face.

I’m a bit tired of the bleeding hearts….some in politics and some behind pulpits waging the finger and scolding us for not being compassionate because we won’t fulfill (their) version of the Great Commission. It’s the same liberal interpretation of Scripture that asserts: If we are biblical about views on homosexuality, then we are unloving. It’s the same interpretation that scolds us for refuting false teachers by nonsensical platitudes like: “What unites us is greater than what divides us.” The answer is simply….no, not if it demeans or diminishes Jesus.

It’s the same way with the current refugee crisis. I’m not a hater, uncompassionate, un-Christ-like, or suffer from Islamophobia…just because I don’t want to see people murdered in the streets by terrorists and want to utilize common sense when dealing with this crisis. Not wanting to see schools stormed, malls, colleges, synagogues, or churches stormed by crazed demonic terrorists doesn’t make me uncompassionate, in all reality…it’s the epitome of compassion.

To be certain, some pastors and teachers have been wise and harmless when responding to the refugee crisis. They want to welcome some of the refugees to the US as a safe haven. But they understand what is at stake. They understand that there needs to be a “real” vetting process and that means being able to verify one’s background.

Simply stated: We cannot allow a family into this country if we can’t be sure that “Dad” wasn’t previously in Raqqa or Mosul beheading people for the cause. As a Christian man I cringe when I think of all of the men, women, and children who were and are presently being brutalized by ISIS. Just because we want to protect our homeland and family doesn’t mean we don’t love the souls of the Muslim people. That assessment is rose colored naivety cloaked in Christianity at its worst.

It is clear that a great number of Muslim families have come to the US. over the years and assimilated. It is clear that any true Christian wants to reach out to these people, help them, and show Christ’s love any way possible. There are countless stories of Christian families in Eastern Europe “taking in” Muslim families. There are many common sense approaches to this crisis.

Am I saying being a Christian is safe? Am I saying that safety at all costs is the only way? No, because sometimes we must jeopardize our safety and security for the sake of the gospel. That is something totally different than letting people into this nation in droves and not considering the consequences of evil men infiltrating their ranks who are bent on destruction of life.

What’s the Christian response?

The gospel is paramount…because there are souls involved. We should show the love of Jesus to Muslims in real tangible ways. If our government has a reliable, secure, vetting process that actually works, then some Christian families will go as far as to welcome other families into their homes. Some of them will need tangible help like food, clothes, shoes, and jobs. We can be a witness to them about the life-changing gospel of Jesus. There are numerous stories about Muslims being open to the gospel in light of the love they have seen from Christians while being forsaken by the Muslim world.

Just like our scenarios with young family and the man in need, we need to show the same Christian compassion while using discernment the Lord gives to each one of us.

My home church here in Indianapolis is bringing real hope and meeting some needs of many fleeing refugees and Syria via our Christmas offering. This isn’t just education, books, food, and tents…this is real bold witness and declaration of the gospel right there in the Middle East. Needs can be met in the US, Europe, and on the ground in Syria and Iraq.

I have seen a war zone first hand and now the citizens of Paris are knowing its horrors all too well. I wrote this article to widen the very narrow (and I believe naive approach) of some Christians, who I believe are genuine in their love for people but blinded to the realities of the ground. Let’s be compassionate, let’s show the love of Christ. Let’s share the gospel, but let’s be wise and harmless in our Christian response to the Middle East the refugee crisis.

Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.”