As fallout from recent Islamic State (ISIS) attacks in Paris continues, more than half of the United State’s governors have said they will bar Syrian refugees from coming to their states because they pose a great risk to national security. New Jersey governor and presidential candidate Chris Christie declared his state would not take in any refugees—“not even orphans under the age of five.”
Congress has also joined in, voting on November 26 to make the process for Syrian and Iraqi refugees coming to the U.S. more difficult.
The issue is far from simple, and I respect that even Christians will have varied opinions on the right course of action. Yet this is what is on my heart:
- As Christ-followers we must have compassion for those who suffer.
The parable of the Good Samaritan instructs us to be sensitive even to the needs of our enemies (Luke 10:25–27). Many Old and New Testament verses teach us to serve strangers and refugees (Lev. 19:33–34, Heb. 13:2). So as Christ-followers, we must help these refugees. Thank God many Christian organizations are already helping the Syrian refugee camps in Turkey and Europe and because of them, many refugees are becoming Christ followers. Let us also not forget that the United States was founded by refugees.
In terms of mission opportunities, refugees are right now the most open Muslim group to the Gospel. We Christians should share God’s love and the Gospel with them. Many will respond to that. The American Church should step out of its comfort zone and take advantage of this great mission opportunity. Moreover, a good number of these refugees are already Christians. Are we not called at least to help our brothers and sisters in Christ?
- Yet we must be wise and alert.
The Lord admonishes us in Matthew 10:16 to be as wise and alert as serpents, understanding the cunning of our enemies. ISIS sends people pretending to be refugees to infiltrate western countries such as the U.S. They come with the mission to start hidden cells for ISIS and to recruit American youth.
I know from experience that some of Iran’s “Christian” refugees have been Islamic government agents trying to infiltrate western countries and Iranian Christian communities worldwide. Iran’s government boasts that they have spies and agents in every western country who are supported by the host country because they entered as a refugee. Not surprisingly, these pretend refugees are usually supplied with false but compelling evidence documenting their torture while many Christians who have truly suffered for their faith have little documentation to verify their stories.
So we must extend compassion with our eyes wide open.
- We are already conquered if we let fear rule us.
I think that maybe especially due to the recent events in France, many in Congress and some governors have acted out of fear. A priority goal for ISIS is to spread fear (terror) worldwide. This is how they gain power. If we act out of fear, they have accomplished their objective.
Please pray with me that more and more refugees will hear the Gospel and discover and embrace God’s perfect love.
“Perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn 4:18).
Recommended Reading: “Syrian Refugees in America: Separating Fact from Fiction in the Debate”