I woke up to a note this morning from an old friend, stating emphatically that he was disappointed in me and what I’m sharing online about supporting refugees. There were some other comments about me being naive, liberal, unaware, etc.
Here’s what I wish he and all those wondering the same thing would understand about me and why I take this stance:
1.There are many ways to enter the USA – tourist visas, student visas, work visas, and then there’s the US Refugee Resettlement program. The refugee resettlement is among the most vetted and screened entrance to the USA of all, usually taking over 2 years.
2. Since our vetting process was implemented in the 1980s, there has not been 1 terrorist attack by a refugee on US soil. It works. The process is intense. Thus, it makes little logical sense to close the refugee program or to drastically reduce the number of refugees allowed in – where is the justification? Finally, the majority of refugees that come are women and children fleeing the same extremists that the US is trying to shut down.
3. Europe does not have our vetting process. It’s a poor comparison to point to European attacks in order to justify closing our borders.
4. I am not liberal. I am not conservative. I believe before God that Christians are called to carve out new ground in which we remain consistently pro-life, compassionate, and acting like Jesus. That means sometimes we may appear to be supporting one side or the other. But, as Christians, our citizenship is in Heaven and our allegiance is to Jesus Christ, not a political party.
5. I don’t agree with America First, as it does not align with what I understand of Christianity. Nowhere does God tell us to put ourselves, our interests, our safety, and our prosperity first. Nowhere. America First inevitably means stepping on a lot of vulnerable peoples, made in God’s image, in order to elevate ourselves. On a small scale, that’s why most people, myself included, don’t teach their kids to put themselves first. On this new ground, this place being carved out between political extremes, let’s choose others first, God first, His Word first.
6. And, why do I care so much? As a Christian, I believe we should care about our world and our neighbors. But, beyond that, please know my world is refugees. My neighborhood is majority immigrants and refugees. The ministry Jay and I founded resettles refugees, picks them up at the airport, welcomes them. These are my friends, my kids’ friends, my ESL students, and the familiar faces I see each and every day. And so, please, do not assume I am OK with your remarks just because my skin color looks like yours.
7. It’s been said and will continue to be repeated: not all Muslims are radical. Likewise, not all Christians are KKK members or from Westboro. As adults, let’s get comfortable with tolerating some gray areas and not assume we should stereotype a large group of people. Along similar lines, let’s not assume every foreign-born person that doesn’t look like us is a threat to national security. It’s irrational.
8. I’m uncomfortable with double-standards. Why are the same Christians signing up for mission trips around the world yet unable to view their own country as the biggest mission field of our age? And why pray for your church’s missionaries to effectively reach souls over there, yet when those souls come here, you no longer see the eternal potential, just fear? Studies show that one of the most effective ways to de-radicalize Muslims is by their exposure to Christianity and other walks of life in the USA. If you believe in the power of Jesus, take heart – it works. He changes lives. On this new ground, let’s not live in fear of “them” because “they” are not beyond His reach.
9. Finally, I believe it’s OK to disagree with the President. It’s possible to still respect, support, and pray for a leader while disagreeing with some of his actions. Many of the same people who were slandering, gossiping about, and speaking all kinds of evil about President Obama are now unable to disagree with even one decision of President Trump and find it hard to tolerate any questioning of his actions. Let’s be more discerning than that. On this new ground, let’s respect our leaders because they’re under God’s authority, and let’s filter all their decisions through a biblical lens, not a particular news channel or facebook memes.
10. This issue represents far more than executive orders to me. To be honest, I relate in a small way to the refugees here. I’ve lost everything and had to start over in a new place. We’ve been without family and friends because fear was easier for them to believe in than Love. People have believed the worst about us, about me, although no logic or evidence could justify it. And, it was all done in the name of church and God and “holding fast to the truth.” Friends, it’s dangerous when our belief system OKs treating other people in hurtful, damaging ways. If fear compels us to build more walls than bridges, maybe it’s time to step back and explore again the wonder of God’s love – for us, for our neighbors, for His world.