Friday, January 27, 2017

What Should We Think About Those Refugee Neighbors?


"But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'"

This is not a political post.  This is not about Trump.  This is not about what you think about Trump's views on immigration and refugees.  Please don't try to convince me one way or another.  I have read the executive order, I do have some (varied) opinions, but that's not what this is about.

This is about what we are commanded to do as Christians.  Because even if you think that the government should deport every illegal immigrant, even if you believe that for the safety of our country, no Muslim should ever be allowed in ever again, you still have a responsibility before God to aggressively love the refugees, Muslims, and immigrants (even illegal ones) who are already in your community.

And they are there.  They might not be your literal neighbors, because they often tend to keep to themselves (who wouldn't, under their circumstances?).  But they are in communities all throughout the United States.

Here's where the Syrian refugees have been resettled.  Source, New York Times.  

Here's where the Somali refugees have been (recently) resettled.  Source, WND.

And here's where the Iraqi refugees are living.  Source:  CDC.  

You might not see them every day.  They might live in different parts of town and shop in different stores.  But they are there, and probably not too far away.  You might need to make an effort to find them, by shopping where they shop, or perhaps checking out a website like this one or this one.

They are our neighbors.  And since loving our neighbors is the second-greatest commandment (according to Jesus himself), we have an obligation to love them--regardless of our political views.

I wonder how many immigrants and refugees have never stepped foot into a white American home.

I wonder how many are struggling with language, with American culture and transportation and cooking, who have lost literally everything and have nothing, and yet are being ignored by Jesus' Church.

What an incredibly, pathetically, wasted opportunity.

I realize I am biased here.  After living all these years overseas, if I ever moved back to the States, the first people I would run to would be immigrants and refugees.  They would be my people.  They would be where I would feel comfortable.  I would long to live in their neighborhoods and it wouldn't be a sacrifice for me.  But I realize that's because I already have African friends and Muslim friends and Asian friends and they are not strange or different or scary to me.  They are hospitable and curious and absolutely fascinating.

So can I just assure you that once you get to know a person from a strange country, I promise that you will find more similarities than differences?  That you will find mamas who fret about what they feed their children and dads who like to tickle and you will find fear and hope and joy and all the things you are familiar with.  You will learn so much, and you will be indescribably blessed.

Whatever your political views, don't let it get in the way of Jesus' command to love your neighbor.

"'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?'

The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.'

Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'"









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