This refugee situation is obviously one that is turning heads. Whether it be on the news, social media, or conversations around the work place – most people have an opinion about the matter. The recent happenings in Paris have only created more of a stir regarding the issue.
I have heard a plethora of thoughts shared since the Paris attacks. Words on social media filled with hatred against those who don’t see the issue from their point of view. People are being demonized for sharing their opinion.
I have noticed a new trend for those who stand against refugees coming to our country. So many of their thoughts and opinions highlight other needs in our world. There is the woman who sees the need at the local food pantry with lines stretching out the door. She is wondering why people in the area don’t care about those in need right in their own back yard. There are the advocates fighting for a voice for the homeless population right in Chicago, New York, or Birmingham. There are local drives going on now for coats and food for the holiday season for families in need. All worthy causes, I believe.
I understand this current Syrian refugee crisis is a complicated one. I try to offer grace to both sides. People are fighting for their own opinion to be heard, whether it be for the sake of safety or compassion; I believe both are valuable.
A few weeks ago, we took our youth group kids on a new adventure. We asked them to bring money to our regular Monday night meeting with the intentions of giving it away. We anonymously gathered $186 to use for a night of random acts of kindness. We split into 3 groups and divided up the money evenly. When we returned back home there were a number of stories of smiles, blessed families, and surprised onlookers. Some groups paid for gas, groceries, dinner or big tips for the servers. There was one story where the cashier knew the woman getting groceries. Her husband has been sick for a long time and she knew this blessing was just in time for this family. The kids didn’t know that when they offered to pay for her groceries. They just filled a need they saw presented in front of them.
Matthew 22:34-40 says this: “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question. ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself [emphasis mine].‘ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
When I looked up the Greek lexicon of “neighbor” and how it was used in the passage in its original meaning – it said this: according to Christ, any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to “meet”. [If you are ever interested in doing so, I would recommend http://www.blueletterbible.com or Strong’s Concordance for looking into original Hebrew and Greek meaning].
We are all human. We live and breathe and have needs to be met. There are so many complicated political, emotional, religious, or experiential opinions related to the refugee crisis happening around us and I don’t believe we need to put our heads in the sand in order to create a conflict free world. If you feel strongly for those lining up at the food pantry – then take action! If your neighbor is sick and can’t shovel their driveway – seize the opportunity to offer a helping hand. I’m not saying one need is greater than another. But let’s do something about these needs knocking on our door. Take an opportunity to love another as you love yourself; provide a meal, a safe home, or the comfort of a friend.
If you do feel called to offer a helping hand to the refugees seeking a safe home, we are doing something locally. Fusion church has partnered with a reputable organization called Refugee One who has been welcoming refugees in the Chicago-land area for the past 33 years. We have committed to raising the funds to welcome a family here near the first of the new year. If you’d like to give or get more involved, please check out our website supporting the fundraiser.