A Refuge and Refugees – A Pastoral Perspective on the Current Refugee Crisis
By: Dr. Harry L. Reeder III
November 20, 2015 8:12 AM
“to you who to Jesus for Refuge have fled.”
In the past few months I have been asked on numerous occasions, “Pastor how should we respond to this seemingly unprecedented refugee crisis?” We have all seen the multitudes fleeing from what I would identify as the 7th Fascist Islamic Caliphate originating from the same location as the previous six – the Middle East. Many of these refugees are professing Christians who have escaped the ISIS implemented efforts to exterminate them with crucifixions, beheadings, rape, sex-slave trafficking etc. Other refugees are non-compliant “moderate” Muslims who also were targeted for death or imprisonment. The answer would normally be obvious. Let’s open the doors of our nation by an orderly refugee resettlement plan as we have done on numerous crisis refugee challenges in the past. (European, Hutterite, Vietnamese, Korean etc.) Okay, sounds good and sounds right, so why not?
The answer as to why not is simple though the solution is not. The reason why not is that the same movement that created this refugee crisis – ISIS – has boasted and has proven that they could embed terrorist agents within the refugee population. So what should we do as Christians in America? From a Christian world view I would pastorally propose the following.
God’s Word reveals that our Lord has designed and established three spheres within which our lives are to be developed, lived and sustained – the Family (the institution from Creation), the Government (the institution from the Fall) and the Church (the institution from Redemption) – the answer is to create a policy and a plan that embraces the God-designed roles and responsibilities of each life sphere with “wisdom from above.” Here are three Pastoral perspectives and some action steps.
LIFE SPHERES OF THE GOVERNMENT, CHURCH AND FAMILY
- The Government should implement a refugee policy that allows flexibility for the current refugee crisis with a focus upon its primary responsibility to protect its citizens, especially since the crisis is the result of a national movement that has declared war upon our nation and the proven threat of embedding terrorists within the refugee population.
- The Christian church should initiate a Biblically framed refugee ministry while encouraging and supporting a thoughtful and compassionate national refugee policy.
- The Christian family should prayerfully encourage and engage in a refugee outreach ministry through the church and exhort as well as support an appropriate and responsible national policy toward refugees under the authority of the government.
GOVERNMENT ACTION STEPS
- Collaboration with other nations for equitable division of the refugee population.
- A refugee camp providing housing, food, water and medical care which would allow for their sustenance while a responsible vetting process in implemented. (i.e. Ellis Island during the European refugee movement during the early 20th century)
- A vetting process that…
- Prioritizes the refugee categories for processing (i.e. religious refugees, then political refugees, then economic refugees)
- Identify, vet and organize non-profit, private, religious and familial sponsors to match appropriately with vetted refugees.
- A commitment to fully vet any refugee for ties to any Jihadist movements no matter how much time and effort required. The dangers are too crucial not to make such an effort remembering that the priority responsibility of the government is to protect its citizens from evil doers. (Rom. 13)
- The Secretary of State and the Director of the Department of Homeland Security must personally sign off any and all refugees who are admitted into the nation as to the integrity of the vetting process of both the refugee and the sponsoring family or organization to whom they are being released for accountability and documentation of the process.
- A quarterly checkup process as to the status and activity of the refugee for three years or until a prescribed citizenship process is completed
CHURCH ACTION STEPS
- Consider teaching on the Biblical material concerning our Lord’s prescribed ministries to the refugee (i.e. cities of refuge) love to your neighbor (i.e. Good Samaritan) believers suffering under persecution (i.e. Heb. 13:1-3).
- If refugee ministry capabilities are not resident within the local church, the church should consider how they can participate within their denominational structures and/or with a reputable para church organization that effectively ministers to international refugees. (If desired Briarwood could make its researched list available.)
- Create multiple entry levels for the congregation as a whole and the members individually to engage according to their gifts, calling and resources.
- Consider how responding to this crisis can become a foundational impetus to implement an ongoing ministry to both refugees and the persecuted church (an issue that is epidemic and growing throughout the world and could be coming to our own culture which while not presently engaged in persecuting Christians, is engaged in targeting specific Christians who are exercising their first amendment rights.)
- Promote a strategic plan for a congregation-wide intercessory prayer initiative for the current refugee crisis and the persecuted church.
FAMILY ACTION STEPS
- Pray for the government, its policy implementation and the refugees.
- Use this crisis to teach your children how God’s people combine the Great Commandment and the Great Commission with compassion in such situations.
- Prayerfully consider how you and your family can engage in the ministry (i.e. hospitality, family sponsor, provide jobs, financial resources and offerings, etc.)
- Support and expect the Government to fulfill its responsibilities to protect its citizens while implementing a refugee policy marked by wisdom and compassion.
- Consider how you can personally support your church or the organization with which the church is working.
Historically moments like this have become extraordinary opportunities for God’s people to ignite a winsome testimony for Christ and embrace the Great Commandment that more often than not opens wide the doors for fulfilling the Great Commission. But more than anything, it is the right thing to do for those who are beneficiaries of God’s grace. The God of Glory and grace sent His Son to provide a “refuge” for us at the Cross and sent the people of God in the power of the Spirit of God to bring us the Gospel of God. Then He sent that same Holy Spirit who brought us to Christ our Refuge.
“What more can He say than to you He hath said, You, who to Jesus for refuge have fled?”