Disciples of the Kingdom and Refugees

I’ve waited to openly discuss this until some of the initial reactions have died down, but these are some running thoughts and similar to ones I had a couple years ago when stuff blew up on social media about the issue of refugees and the US. I know that the “fight” isn’t over for many, at least on the political side.

It may disappoint you that I’m not going to take a position here on the travel ban or the executive order on refugees or the Trump administration. I’ve made it clear I didn’t vote for Trump, but the reality is this: Trump is rolling back to the same number of refugees that Obama allowed for the first six years of his administration, and the travel bans are not new for Democrats or Republicans to do from time to time. It is legal, however right or wrong it may be.

The question I will be answering today is this: if I feel a deep conviction and passion from God about the morality of helping refugees, what should I do? Or what should we do? I’m going to give one option that hasn’t been discussed very often but is more biblical and Christ-like than much of the current conversation.

A couple thoughts before I give my suggestion.

It is interesting how many liberal/progressives become interested in doing what the Bible says when they can use it to beat conservatives over the head with it. So much of it is out of context and hyper selective, that it is almost impossible to take seriously. For example, I saw a post from someone on the liberal side where they quoted from Leviticus about taking care of the foreigner, etc. Setting aside the contextual problems, should we do all that Leviticus now says about how we treat people? I would suspect that person would not support such a broad stroke when it comes to other laws and rules in Leviticus.

Perhaps some people respond well to being called names, lectured and beat about the head with the Bible, marginalized and demonized for genuinely held beliefs, but it doesn’t seem to be working from my perspective. Since I’ve heard how many people dislike the “judgment” and “Bible-thumping” that they claim comes from one side, I find it fascinating how quickly it is resorted to in arguments from the same people. One should not be surprised when that approach doesn’t work.

It is possible I’m giving some liberal/progressives more credit than they deserve. It may not be designed to work, to bring people to spiritual truth, to unify under principles of the Kingdom of God, to follow the truths of the Bible. For some it may simply be another weapon to attack a human enemy with and further divide, a way to express anger and vitriol, which is not the purpose of the Bible, in any debate.

For many, I know they genuinely believe in the Kingdom. They believe in following the principles of the Bible. They believe that Jesus is Lord and desire to follow him with all of their heart. And from that place, their hearts of compassion cry out to help the least of these, those who are hurting and alone, and they apply that heart to refugees. I know they exist. Many of them.

If you are one of those I just described, the following suggestion is for you. It is radical and will only make sense to those of that ilk. The rest can stop reading and dismiss.

What if we really were like Christ? What if we truly took the ideas of the Good Samaritan, and the Gospel of the Kingdom, and we applied them to this situation?

In our cultural and political context, what could we do that would unify and be an amazing testimony to others in our country, and even the world, about the power of the Spirit of God and the Church? What if we were to “be like Jesus”?

America is still taking in 50,000 refugees. We are talking about another 20,000, although this solution could even accept more than that.

Address this letter to President Trump, at the White House. Here is the address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500.

You would copy, paste, and fill in the blanks with your own information.

President Trump,

My name is _____________. I am writing to you because I am very passionate about the Christian obligation to help those in need, those that desperately need our help. I appreciate that our country is still helping 50,000 refugees, but I feel that we could do more. So much more. I believe we can give hope and redemption to many if we would simply reach out. 

I disagree with your recent actions on this issue and your reasons for it, and I pray that you will find wisdom and a change of heart. 

Because of my convictions that this is a dire need and an international crisis, I ask that you allow those of us who are willing to take personal responsibility for refugees to come into our country. I ask that you allow each as individuals the freedom to be compassionate with our personal lives and finances to help those in such desperate circumstances. I am willing to make the personal sacrifices to fulfill my own convictions.

I will agree to be legally and financially responsible for the following:

  1. Food, clothing, and shelter for up to ________ refugees.
  2. Education, health care, and job training where applicable.
  3. If the refugees under my care commit any crimes, I will pay their fines or serve their punishment.

I am willing to sign legal papers documenting these commitments. 

Mr. President, I believe you – and the world – will see the power of compassion and the heart of God as these families find hope and transformation.

My contact information (phone, email, and address): ____________________.

Thank you and God bless you,

_____________________________

Now, some of you just said “that’s ridiculous” or “that’s impossible.”

“With man this is impossible; with God, all things are possible.” – Jesus.

As a conservative estimate, there are 300,000 churches in America. 300,000. We would only need 20,000 churches to take legal and financial responsibility for one refugee to get back to Obama’s numbers including the Syrian people, less if a church takes a family. That’s, at most, 7% of the churches in America taking responsibility as an organization or supporting an individual or family in their congregation with this conviction.

Some more numbers – at least 1,200 churches in America are “megachurches” with more than 2,000 people attending every week. They could each take a family of four and cover more than a fourth of the number of refugees needed.

Of course, I’m being stingy with some numbers. Why would only 7% of the churches in America take on the responsibility of a refugee? Surely more than half support more care to the foreigner and the refugee. That’s 150k churches.

Can you imagine the story if the White House got 20k letters from people willing to do this radical thing? How about 50k? How about 150K? Could we really take care of 150k more refugees in America?

If the Church would decide to be the Church, then yes, we could. We would be Jesus’ hands and feet in a more real and relational way that would truly transform people.

Even if Trump did nothing, what a story and testimony it would make. I can only imagine how heaven would sing.

Or we could continue to sue one another and beat each other over the head with the Bible. Maybe that will work one day.

Peace.