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Nov20FriWhat is a Christian response to the refugee crisis after the attacks in Paris? November 20, 2015 by Captain Scott Strissel
I'm conflicted about the refugee crisis. The conversation among politicians on both sides of the aisle. The debate within the church. I am conflicted.
- Filed Under:
- Opinion & Critical Thought
I understand that we don't want to experience what just happened in Paris. I understand that terrorists wish us harm. I know that we need to protect our families and our communities. But (and here's where the “conflicted” part comes in) does this mean we completely shut our borders and treat every man, woman and child as a terror suspect? No.
I don't think anyone is saying we shouldn't be careful. I don't think this debate is about the existence of terrorism. It does exist. I think this debate is about safety, as well as judgment. But here's the part that's sometimes missing from the conversation: compassion.
Some are calling for a rigorous screening process, fearful that if we open our doors to refugees out of compassion, we will also be opening our doors to terrorists. Some governors in the United States have refused to accept any refugees, arguing this is how the Paris attack happened. But we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering and need help quickly.
This is where I am conflicted about people who have been displaced from their homes and homeland.
I don't have answers, just questions. I don't want to be snarky about it, as people from both sides of the political spectrum have been (which has been sad and discouraging to witness). But something has to be done.
On one side, I can't help but be moved with compassion for the plight of the innocent, no matter where they were born (they didn't get to choose where they live). If we have the resources to protect, defend and actually do something other than protect our own interests, we should feel compelled to act on the behalf of the innocent throughout our world.
On the other side, we need to remember that terrorists may attempt to infiltrate by disguising themselves as innocent refugees—this is not a new strategy, albeit a deplorable one. We ought to be vigilant while facing this crisis with compassion.
Do I think we should completely close our borders to those who want to start a new life in our country? No. Do I think all who come to this country should follow the same procedure on the path to citizenship, through education and understanding? Yes.
For those seeking safe refuge from war and militant terrorists—I say let's welcome them.
The debate over the refugee crisis should also cause us to consider what happens to those who are shut out and are not welcomed. Will it push people to identify with militant extremist groups?
And what of the church? What is our part to play in all of this?
We must remain a moral compass—not political. We must be people who help cast the light of hope into hopeless situations and lives broken by war, hunger and loss. We must do all we can for God's kingdom here on earth to share love, hope and compassion. We must continue to fight for the innocent and to share this love with the entire world, so that Christ might be known and lives can be saved.
I am conflicted, but not about the need to have compassion and show grace.
We continue to pray for the people in Paris and other regions of our world where terrorists are active. We know that people will reap what they sow. Please continue to pray for our world leaders, church leaders and for the Christians in our world who are facing martyrdom for their faith. And let's consider what a Christian response to refugees looks like.
Captain Scott Strissel is the corps officer at Evansville Corps and Community Center in Indiana. He is an active blogger and contributor for the purpose of encouraging and challenging the Salvation Army world. Read his blog at pastorsponderings.org.