By: Katie Huish
“Why don’t we only take, or prioritize taking Christian refugees over refugees of other religions?”
This is a question that since the election has circulated widely. We get this question frequently and often times, by other Christians. To me, in my faith, it is a mandate to welcome the stranger and to love our neighbor, and these mandates do not say “welcome the stranger...unless…” nor does it say, “love your neighbor….unless...:”
Every bit of the word is intentional. So why do so many believers question if God intended the opposite of what is written? If our Lord and Savior commanded us to love and care only for other Christians then I believe we would see it written and it would be bold and it would be mandated to do that. But fortunately, God has a huge heart and so much love for all of his children, not just the ones who are seemingly favored by some of his other children.
“Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offenses.” Proverbs 10:12
As a Christian and as a person who loves and cares for others, I deem and value all people the same. I don’t think there is anyone in this world worth saving more than others and in a systematic response to this question, the United Nations interviews refugees as they register for refugee status and refers only the refugees deemed most vulnerable, often times prioritizing elderly, families with small children, or single mothers. It is also important to note that nearly 50% of refugees are children. Seeing as there are 65.6 million refugees worldwide it would be not only impossible to pick out the Christian, or seemingly Christian refugees, but it would be wrong to move Christian refugees to the front if they weren’t in that top tier of individuals and families who are most vulnerable. We have to also understand that every refugees situation varies greatly. While some refugees are living in rough tent set ups in fields with little to no access to aid, some refugees are well-off living in apartments in cities, living normal lives attending university and work.
So the question would stand, would you rather resettle a Christian family who is already living not only a normal, but a safe life? Or would you rather settle the nonbeliever family desperately seeking normal, with a father who just wants to make a living to support the needs of his family, a mother who just wants enough food to feed the bellies of her small children and to go to sleep without worry of their home being raided at night, and three small children who all deserve a formal education and a chance to make it in this life just as much as the small children you know here in the states? Because if it were my decision, I would choose to give the nonbeliever family a real chance.
“He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15
Preach the gospel to all creation. If we only took Christian refugees, how would we share the gospel or reach the unreachable?
We have now resettled a three different families into NWI, and not a single one of them have been Christian. Two of the clients in one case have gone to church with some of our Good Neighbors on a couple different occasions. They were able to experience something they had not before and it opened their hearts to it more, requesting to go back again.
Another one of our cases, had been seeing some of our good neighbors regularly and had formed a raw and genuine friendship. In this time, this good neighbor had consoled one of the clients making a reference to his personal beliefs on the situation, as any friend would do in that situation, and weeks later the client had mentioned that he trusted in that thought because God was in control and that things will occur in Gods time.
These were both believers of Islam. Both through natural friendship occurring because of Good Neighbor Teams, they were exposed and had become a bit open to learning more about their friends beliefs. If we only had Christian refugees, we wouldn’t have any chance to spread the gospel. You would be preaching to the choir.
Lastly, during our time in the Beqaa valley we were able to work with a faith based aid organization called Heart for Lebanon which served all Syrian refugees within a given camp setting. This is not prejudiced against any member of any given faith. They believe in first humanitarian aid and education, second in relational engagement, and lastly, reconciliation through discipleship which is ultimately to lead refugees into the arms of Christ. This organization offers aid regardless of participation of its faith based offerings. They create relationships with these people without any expectations or requirements for them to be engaged in the bible study that they offer. They, like us, create genuine relationships and let things to go from there. Through this, they reach those who would not otherwise be exposed to Christians or the gospel by being and acting as the hands and body of Christ.
So my answer to this, is that we are mandated to love all. Refugees of all religion, ethnicities, beliefs. Humans of all walks of faith. God did not discriminate and he mandated for us to love like he does. In order to spread and share the gospel, you must interact with those who are not already believers. On a practical note, think of the situation I mentioned above.. refugee cases vary greatly. The United Nations does its best to resettle the absolute most vulnerable, we must trust in that along with the vetting process that has yet to fail us.