When I find helpful resources or articles that speak to the issues of immigration, refugee care, and the local church’s responsibility to the Great Commission among these people, I like to share those. Today, I want to draw your attention to a recent interview by Alan Cross on The Reconnect with Carmen LeBerge. Carmen brings the issue front and center and allows Alan to deliver a clear word about our (local churches and Christians in the US) responsibility in the midst of the refugee crisis. The interview is part facts and numbers about the extent of the crisis and part practical conversation about real steps we can take now. It’s a good interview, for you personally, and as a thing to share with people in your church who may have questions about refugees and a healthy response.
Here are a couple of ideas Alan and Carmen addressed that I believe are key concerns for local churches and Christians:
Only 1 in 10 Evangelical Christians say the biggest influence on their views of immigration is the Bible.
Alan points out some recent research that claims very few Christians actually allow the Scriptures to inform their views on immigration. While we should certainly consider policy and the culture around us in moral decision-making, the church is in dire straits if the Bible stops being the prime source for making these decisions. In reality, the way we treat immigrants is a pretty big theme in Scripture, and it leaves little wiggle room. We are to care for the foreigner that finds themselves in our midst. This truth is even more clear concerning refugees with the Bible’s clarion call to extend mercy to the marginalized. Too often, I am afraid we do not let the Bible impact our views on things, because we may not like what it expects of us. Sure, there are a lot of loud voices out there screaming for our attention. Media is more pervasive than ever, and we would be fools to think our priorities are not affected by having information constantly pushed into our hands in a 140 characters or less. Nevertheless, that makes the need to turn into the pages of God’s Word for truth all the more important.
The question is: once someone is here, how are you going to treat them?
Another helpful point made in the interview is the distinction between questions of policy concerning immigration and the question of how we treat people once they are actually here. It is completely possible for a Christian to believe we need immigration reform and still be in favor of a welcoming attitude to those who have already arrived. In fact, there is really no excuse for Christians having any other attitude toward refugees living in our cities. When the Bible tells you to love even your enemies, it leaves little room for us to exhibit anything less than mercy to people who are coming here because they are victims. Too often in our churches, the “refugee conversation” quickly revolves around policies about how many we should accept. We need to change the conversation in churches and begin asking (and answering) the right question: How are we going to treat the ones who are already here?
Here is the audio of the interview:
Or, you can find the audio and more notes from the interview here: Interview with Alan Cross: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves