They are Syrians.
They are Muslims.
They are refugees.
They were at our 5:00PM Christmas Eve services last month.
Recently settled in St. Louis, a family of Syrian refugees was invited to our church. During communion, a dear woman in our congregation brought forward one of the children. Tears were streaming down her face. "Will you give him a blessing?"
The boy was six or seven. His bright eyes were intent upon me. I wasn't sure what to say. I wasn't sure if he could understand me. I said, "Jesus came for you, and he loves you."
As I walked back toward the altar, something struck me. Of the hundreds of people in the room, this boy had the most in common with the holy family. Jesus and his parents were wanderers in Bethlehem and refugees in Egypt.
I stand with this boy and his family. Here's why:
The cause of the refugee is a biblical focus.
God has a heart for those who have nothing. And so the alien, along with the widow and orphan, is a Divine focal point. Here's a sampling:
“Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the foreigner, or the poor . . .” (Zech. 7:10).
“You shall not wrong a foreigner . . . you shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child” (Ex. 22:21).
“He executes justice for the fatherless and widow and loves the foreigner” (Deut. 10:18).
“The Lord watches over the foreigner, he upholds the widow and the fatherless” (Ps. 146:9).
“Do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widow” (Jer. 7:6).
“. . . those who oppress the widow, the fatherless, and those who thrust aside the foreigner” (Mal. 3:5).
I stand for those who can't speak.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor who stood up for the Jews under Nazi oppression. He wrote: "The church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society."
We stand up for victims. If we march for the unborn, we march for the victims of war and oppression.
I want to be where Jesus is.
If Jesus was placed into today's context, he may not be allowed in our country. As a resident of Palestine (and a stint in Egypt), the man from Nazareth would be screened for U.S. entry. In Christ, God identifies with the outcast and oppressed. I want to be there too.
Fear has never been a good adviser.
I can't afford to live in fear. Of terrorism or Islam. Of economic or political collapse. Of sickness or death. I don't have time for it. My God is greater than fear. His refrain is "Fear not."
I thank God for our country. My kinfolk were refugees and immigrants too, only 170 years earlier. Praise God for his protection and provision. Praise God for his mercy upon the lowest and least.
*** I am for national security. I am an opponent of terrorism. Check out this article from Ed Stetzer on refugee statistics.