It’s early-mid November. I check the news right before beginning to pack up from a month in Quebec, North America’s closest cousin to France. And freeze.
Gunmen have been shooting in a crowded theater in Paris; suicide bombers blowing themselves up on streets. The numbers of the dead are still being confirmed.
We are all horrified, grieved. I have flashbacks of watching the reports on 9/11. This Paris attack is on a smaller scale, but reminds us all of 9/11 because it’s a brutal terrorist attack on citizens of a “safe” Western country. For some reason, we as North Americans are more taken aback than we were by the attack on the Kenyan university in April. (147 people, mostly students, were shot there; Christians were especially targeted.) A Syrian passport is found in Paris. Reporters begin pointing fingers at refugees.
A few days later, a photo begins circulating of a bunch of Syrian men. Articles like this one use that photo to discuss the Syrians who would be resettling in the United States. A couple of refugee families show up in New Orleans, and I notice that my Facebook feed is alive with that picture (which, by the way, was taken in Hungary) and with people commenting about the 10,000 Syrians who just flooded into New Orleans and how they are all young men with no women and children.
I cringe. The Internet, as usual, is being used as a disseminator of false information. Later, I am listening to some friends from church talking about the “10,000 men.” They are upset that all these terrorists are charging into the U.S.A. Our state’s governor refuses to let in any Syrians, and they approve.
Yes, our governors have valid security concerns. It’s hard to screen refugees from a country so torn by war that important records have been lost. But I want to encourage my Christian friends, especially those who are Reformed in their beliefs, to consider these things:
- God is sovereign. He will only allow what is meant to happen, happen.
- There are much easier ways for a terrorist to enter the United States from Europe than through the refugee program. For example, by the visa waiver program. (Read this CNN article about that.)
- Missionaries have been struggling to reach the countries these refugees are coming from, and now they’re right on your doorstep. You have the amazing opportunity to show them God’s love and share the good news of the gospel.
- Reacting in fear to the refugees who are already coming will not help them to adapt to American culture and turn away from radical jihadists who may be more welcoming than their American neighbors are.
- We shouldn’t allow our love of safety to overrule our compassion. Yes, we need to consider the safety of our already-living-here neighbors (Kevin DeYoung wrote an insightful article about that for Gospel Coalition), but we also need to look to see what God is doing in this refugee crisis and be enthusiastic about His plans.
- You, personally, are responsible not for your nation’s security (that’s our government’s job; you can do your part, maybe, by keeping your family and town safe). You are responsible as a Christian for making disciples of all men from all nations.
I recommend reading this article that was posted by Desiring God: Building His Church in a Refugee Crisis. Better than most, it expresses the heart of a Christian who is looking for God’s glory and the coming of His kingdom.
I urge you: look to build God’s kingdom rather than enjoy more personal comfort. Be a courageous and loving Christian, by God’s grace. And turn to God’s Word for your daily instruction—not your Facebook feed.
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Luke 10:25-37 ESV, the Holy Bible
Photo taken near border with Lebanon. (Not New Orleans.)