A Closer Look at Refugees

abigail-keenan-27292 unsplashRefugees were big news a couple months ago, but unfortunately the national discussion has moved on. President Trump has decided that there will be fewer refugees allowed into the U.S. this year. Last year the number of refugees was 110,000; this year it will be less than half of that.

If you are a Christian, what do you think about that?

My husband and I became friends with a refugee family several years ago, and it was eye opening. The couple, who thankfully spoke enough English to communicate, and their two year old son had just arrived in this country. They had no means of support, they didn’t know how things worked in the United States, and they were reeling after several years of living in desperate circumstances.

World Relief, a non profit Christian organization, arranged housing and a job for them and provided them with basic spending money for a couple months. Dan and I met with them once a week and showed them how to balance a checkbook, got them library cards, worked out their internet access, arranged for overdue dental work, took them to the doctor, and generally helped out where we could. Dan was the impetus for this action, and I was amazed at the necessary things that he thought of to do for them.

Now Dan works for World Relief, and as he knows the stories of other refugees he disagrees with decrease in the number of refugees allowed to enter this country. The number of refugee resettled in the United States has fluctuated over the years, but I would guess that each individual who escaped from their refugee camp to the United States has been tremendously blessed.

I’m puzzled by the strong sentiment against refugees.

Lack of knowledge

I live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, and there are not many refugees around. If we hadn’t gotten involved with the refugee couple and if Dan wasn’t working for World Relief, then we wouldn’t know anything about refugees. I wonder how much people really know about refugees.

This executive order discussion has opened some eyes. There have been events put on by World Relief that have featured refugees, and they have been extremely well attended. I hope more people are becoming aware of refugees themselves.

Check out some of the stories of refugees, like this one or this one, and learn the challenges and blessings that are realized when refugees come to the United States.

Political Polarization

The political right and left are becoming more and more hostile toward each other, and news outlets have become more slanted one way or the other. If Christians first consider themselves politically “left” or “right,” then they might forget that all believers are united in Christ and that our identity is not defined politically, socially, or economically, but we are first and most importantly children of God.

Children of God should not let FOX or CNN set the lens through which they view culture and politics. The Bible and the Holy Spirit are far superior filters for our world.

The right is not always right; neither is the left. Christians should be the first in line to overcome political divides and listen respectfully to each other on all issues. Both political sides have something to contribute to important national discussions.

Fear

Refugees are often very different, may not speak English, have a difficult time adjusting to our culture, and may be from countries that are hostile to the United States. It can be fearful. No question.

When Dan and I met with the refugee couple that we befriended it was awkward at times and difficult to communicate. They were Christians, so we had that in common, and they trusted us, so we just muddled forward as best we could. I know it would have been more difficult if we had gotten to know someone who could not speak English or had very different beliefs. But we would have tried.

Getting to know individuals is one way to lessen our fear of a group of anonymous refugees from dangerous countries. The United States does a good job of vetting refugees, and it takes years for refugees to get through the process. Of course, it’s not perfect, but nothing in life is risk free.

No Fear

The Bible makes it very clear that Christians should not live in fear. Of that there is no doubt. Governments are to protect their citizens, and the US government is doing that to the best of their ability. We can discuss the potential risks and rewards of allowing more refugees into the US, but we should not let our arguments be motivated by fear.

The family that Dan and I know moved to Indiana, bought a house, are self supporting and extremely grateful to have been given the chance of living in America. It has been tough for them, but they made it.

Do you know any refugees? What are your thoughts on this issue?

Other resources on the subject: What Should Christians Think About Trump’s Refugee Policy?  Key facts about refugees to the U.S.  World Relief

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6 Responses to A Closer Look at Refugees

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks for speaking out Judy. I shared on twitter. “Getting to know individuals is one way to lessen our fear of a group of anonymous refugees from dangerous countries.” Yes! I’ve encountered similar (although milder) nervousness from others about the many international students we have hosted in our home.

    • Judy says:

      Thanks Laura – I have a long way to go, but when we invest in individuals it changes our perspectives of a larger group. And good for you hosting international students! Hopefully some of the folks who were uncomfortable with them have warmed up.

  2. Larry Who says:

    Politics aside, refugees are people who need Christ and need the hands of His body reaching out to them. I can see no other alternatives for us believers.

    • Judy says:

      Yep – And we can pray that every refugee that is denied an opportunity to experience Jesus in this country will meet him somewhere else.

  3. Sue says:

    Thanks for this insider perspective. Why can’t we speak and listen respectfully? I guess it’s sin…putting other views and people down to lift our views and ourselves above them. And certainly fear is in the mix. Does passion for a subject have to be accompanied by selfish, sinful conduct?

    It seems we are gentle as serpents and strong as doves. Opposite of the intended way. May God give believers pause, to fight this fight internally, so that through us, He may care for all people with His strong and gentle ways. May we learn from the Lord, true strength and true gentleness.

    May we ask: “If I was a refugee, how would I like to be treated?” I’d like a Dan and Judy to help me navigate!

    Thanks for your always thoughtful and honest posts.

    • Judy says:

      Hi Sue! “Does passion for a subject have to be accompanied by selfish, sinful conduct?” I don’t think so. The passion is distinct from the behavior. However, I wonder if someone who is extremely passionate about an issue is humble enough to recognize when he or she is moving into that territory. Interesting question! What do you think?

      “May God give believers pause to fight this fight internally” is an excellent prayer for this issue. Sometimes I think that we are on autopilot and we don’t examine our hearts or God’s word for what He is honestly saying.

      Thanks for stopping by and for you comment Sue! You always give me something to think about!

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