In the single month of January 2016, at least 244 people—many of them children—died while trying to make it to Europe, fleeing violence, persecution and war in countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In Syria alone, (by some estimates) more than 470,000 people have been killed in five years of civil war that has devastated the country, displacing millions.
But, in parts of the United States, those seeking asylum and safety have been met with fear and even resolutions to keep them out.
The refugee crisis has become a divisive issue in the recent presidential race, and several states have even said they will refuse to accept the refugees, even though they have been vetted and hand-selected for relocation. The legality of state proclamations to block refugees have been disputed, but it’s clear refugees are unwelcome in many states.
Even among Christians, people are divided. A survey from Lifeway Research found that 44 percent of Protestant churchgoers had “a sense of fear about global refugees coming to the United States.”
In the age of ISIS, terrorism and radical ideology, in many cases, fear of people we don’t know has replaced a duty to help them. (Even though, ironically, many of the refugees are actually fleeing the same violence and militant factions that Americans want to keep out.)
The Bible is clear about our responsibility to help foreigners, immigrants and visitors: Loving our neighbor, helping those in need and defending the powerless are constant refrains throughout Scripture. But, in many circles, the refugee crisis and the displacement of millions of people from predominantly Muslim countries has challenged the way Christians put the Bible’s call into practice.
Many of the refugees come from different cultures, have different religious beliefs and maintain different worldviews. Fear is, too often, a natural human response to cultural differences. But that doesn’t make it right.
That’s why the story of the Good Samaritan is still so powerful.
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SOURCE: Relevant Magazine