Monday, September 21, 2015

Refugees in Europe

Syrian refugees (picture from Wikipedia)
The refugee situation in Europe has frequently made international news over the past few months as Muslims fleeing the terror of ISIS have flooded into Hungary, Germany, and Austria.  Yet, despite the recent increase in news reports, the refugee flood actually began long before ISIS became a household name.

Over two years ago, Syrians fled into Europe trying to escape the civil war in their country.  Tens of thousands of refugees came to Europe seeking our help.  They came to Bulgaria, Greece, and Italy, among other countries.  I am sad to say that throughout Europe, they have been met with a mixed welcome.

Some view the refugees as a threat.  They think that perhaps ISIS militants will take advantage of the refugee crisis and sneak into western countries to do evil things.  Some view the refugees as a strain on the available resources of the countries they are entering.  Some see them as doctors, shop keepers, businessmen, teachers, and farmers who have had to flee for their lives and have suffered greatly at the hands of evil men and women.

What should the Christian response be to such a complex situation?  The Biblical answer is quite clear.  Many times, throughout the Bible, God's people were commanded to look after foreigners.  Among such passages are Leviticus 19:35, Deuteronomy 10:1, Deuteronomy 27:19, Zachariah 7:10, and Jeremiah 7:6.

It may be a complex situation, but the Christian's response is not.  We are to help those in need.  When the refugees come to our country, we are to help them.

Now there may be a few objections at this point, so I will address them:

Objection 1:  What if there are sleeper terrorists embedded with the refugees?  We have to keep these people out.

Response:  Yes we should try to keep terrorists out of our countries.  However, that it not the job of the Christian.  That is the job of government agencies.  We are to help the refugees.  That is our command.

Is it possible that some day someone you helped may try to hurt you?  Absolutely.  In fact, if you are truly following Christ, trouble is not just a possibility, it is a promise (John 15:20).  Does this change our command to help those in need?  No it does not.

Objection 2:  What about national resources?  We can't help everyone.

Response:  That is right, we cannot.  Yet, have we really reached that point?  Western countries still have ample resources to help those in need.

However, let's say it gets to the point where the refugees come to your country and find your country is not able to help them anymore because they lack the funding.  What will happen?  The answer is that they will go around your country to a place where they can be helped.

How do I know this?  Because this is what has happened in Bulgaria.

Two years ago, refugees entered Bulgaria in the thousands.  It did not take long for everyone to realize that we were ill-equipped to help them.  Then they started going around Bulgaria through the former Yugoslav countries into Hungary and eventually into Germany and Austria.

We all have limited resources.  Yet we also have a choice as to what to do with those resources.  Wouldn't you rather use them to help those in need?  Isn't it better to use what we have in obedience to God?

The Biblical response to any refugee situation is simple.  We help them.

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