Pastor Jeff Jackson will be a workshop speaker at the 2017 CCCM Pastors & Leaders Conference on June 26-29. For more information, please visit the website.
“For I know that the LORD is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places” (Psalm 135:5,6).
Due to both the experiences I've had serving refugees overseas and in the Phoenix area, a number of people have asked me what I think about our country's recent decisions and policies in regards to accepting refugees from Middle Eastern countries.
I generally respond to them by sharing the following OBSERVATIONS, and then ask them a few rhetorical QUESTIONS that I believe naturally spring forth from the Bible-based truths I believe my observations contain.
1. One of the great blessings of living in this country is the freedom we have to both vote and to express publicly what we believe those who govern us should do, along with the belief that they might actually listen to us and do what we would like to see them do. And the connected blessing of being confident that there won’t be any government generated retribution towards us for what we said.
2. Although a human government can operate in accordance with some of the principles that the kingdom of God is based on, no earthly government constructed by mankind is capable of being an accurate expression of the kingdom of God. Eventually, the differences between the true kingdom of God and any human government will become more and more evident.
3. The protection of its citizens is one of the fundamental purposes of government. Which is why we have a thorough vetting process for screening refugees that is constantly being refined and has been functioning very effectively for more than 40 years. Literally millions of refugees from around the world have been given the opportunity to begin a new life in our amazing country, with no measurable endangerment created for our citizens.
I'm speaking specifically about the entrance of refugees. None of the other pathways for entry in to our country are as stringent as the refugee path--and therefore for those who have harmful intentions in mind, entering as a refugee has never been and probably never will be the most effective path for entry.
4. Regardless of the outcries of multitudes of people, some of whom claim to be followers of Jesus, our government will and should move forward with resettling refugees from around the world, including those from the chaotic countries of the Middle East.
5. If we believe that the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible is sovereign over all things that He has created and that His greatest desire for us was our safety and comfort, He certainly has the power to do so, including the ability to keep people bent on our harm from entering our country.
6. Since He does have the power and the ability to be the ultimate border enforcer, those that may slip through our protective barriers do so by His permission and for His glory, their good, and His people's growth in to becoming more like Jesus (Matthew 5:43-48).
With these things in mind, I believe all followers of Jesus, but especially those who live in or near communities where refugees are resettled, should seriously consider answering these questions:
Rhetorical Questions: What If...
1. Every man, woman and child that is arriving as a refugee, regardless of their religious background, had at least one Christian like you that intentionally served and befriended them with the same selfless passion and love that you do?
2. An incognito, potential terrorist, posing as a refugee in order to enter the country to do evil, was greeted and engaged as a friend by you or some other Christian on the day they arrived and a personal and meaningful relationship with an American follower of Jesus was developed?
3. God was able to use the relationships His people intentionally developed with a potential terrorist to not only move that person away from the original purpose they came to America with, but to also use that person to bring that potential terrorist in to a real relationship with Himself?
4. Those that claim to be His people are crippled by fear and don’t engage each and every one of them? (God forbid this happen!)
Instead, WHAT IF.....
1. You contact the refugee resettlement agencies in your area to find out if they will be receiving and resettling a portion of this latest batch of refugees?
2. You discover that some of them are coming to your area, and you ask the agency to give you their arrival times and the details of how many men, women, children there will be?
3. You begin praying for each and every one of them and inviting fellow believers to join you in lifting them up to the Lord?
4. You share with your brothers and sisters in Jesus that you will take the initiative to greet at least one specific refugee upon their arrival at the airport or when they arrive at the apartment or house that is going to be their new home?
5. You tell your brothers and sisters in Jesus that you plan on not only engaging at least one of the refugees the day they arrive, but that you will intentionally engage that person and maybe others on a regular basis in order to get to really know them, help them adjust to life in America and be their first “friend” in America?
6. You challenge your brothers and sisters in Jesus to do the same?
Finally, although the Biblical basis and motivation for a Christian to love and serve refugees is NOT primarily the safety of themselves and their people or the avoidance of terrorism, God may see fit to permit those things to be the blessed fruits that He produces when His people attempt to love others, including their enemies, as selflessly as He did.