How Can Western Christians Respond to the Syrian Refugee Crisis?
Let me admit a few things on the upfront. This is a complicated situation in the world that requires appropriate thought and response from world leaders of which, I am not. I do understand leadership a little though and realize that sometimes “we the people” do not have all of the information that leaders have. I am not claiming to be an expert on the situation. For the record, I am from Texas and generally happy about that in every way possible. I am also conservative in my political leanings because of how I apply Scripture to politics. I have a biblical worldview. I am a disciple of Jesus. I am a pastor. I am also passionate about Syrian refugees because I think Jesus is and because I have sat in dusty streets listening to their plight as they await much needed humanitarian aid. I am not blind. I do think ISIS hides among the refugees. Clearly though, the refugees in general, hate ISIS because ISIS burned their homes or killed their father or raped their sister or trafficked their daughter. I am also a pastor in the American South pushing back against a street sentiment that says “to hell with them” stemming from a sense of fear or anger, sometimes within the church.
A few quick observations:
You can be against ISIS and for refugees.
You can be for border control and for refugees.
The church has a different part to play than the Government. This seems to be very confusing for many Christians in the west. Presidents and Governors have a different role with refugees than the church of Jesus Christ.
The church in the Middle East is mobilized and properly responding!
The church in the West is mobilizing to help the church in the East!
How can I help?
Check your worldview followers of Jesus. Matthew 25:31–46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Pray for Syrian refugees. We can all do this. Start praying. Here are some basic prayer points.
Give to support churches and ministries working directly with Syrian refugees. Many of your churches are now actively engaging in places like Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan to minister to refugees. Find out if your church is involved. If you would like to give to minister to Syrian Refugees you can give directly to our church. Click this Bay Area link and indicate “UPG” on your giving form. This ensures the money will go directly to help Syrian people through a center we have established in the Middle East to help refugees. Our next effort beyond existing partnerships, is to provide wooden pallets to lift the tents of refugees off the floor of the earth during the winter rains and snow. This kind of practical help demonstrates the love of Christ and opens doors to share the gospel. Another great organization to give to is Middle East Bible Outreach. They are actively engaged with Syrian refugees daily. The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention is also actively engaged. Baptist Global Response is doing great work with Syrian refugees. Establish a Kingdom partnership.
Go to places where Syrian refugees are living. You can go to Lebanon where an estimated 1.2 million refugees are displaced. You can go to Jordan where an estimated 600,000 refugees are displaced. You can partner with the local church in Lebanon and in Jordan or you can partner with International Mission Board or other missions sending agencies. Go serve people in need. God is at work among these people in miraculous ways. Join Him.
Love the families of Syrian refugees here in America. Look around. If you live in Houston like me, or any urban area for that matter, you will notice Easterners all around you. Some of them have family that you would place in the refugee category. Build a relationship, listen to their story. Love them well. Exercise relentless love.
Push back against the sentiment that all refugees are terrorists.
Encourage and empower the church in the East. I am amazed by my brothers and sisters, especially in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Truly the church in Lebanon has been persecuted by the Syrians in days gone by. Today, at this very moment, the Lebanese and Jordanian church is mobilized, feeding, clothing, and educating refugee families in the name of Christ. I have seen with my own eyes the fruit of their labor and the expansion of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in our day because of their labor among the refugees. Go to them. Give to them. Provide hands-on-service along side of them. If you want to engage with the church in the east, come with us or contact the International Mission Board or Middle East Bible Outreach for more information.
We, the church, have a responsibility to do something. What will you do?