Originally published December 13, 2016
Earlier this year, I published a guest post from Stacy, a missionary in Vienna, about ministering to refugees. It’s a great article, and I’d encourage you to read it if you haven’t yet: What Can I Do About the Refugees?
A reader commented on the article, understandably upset and afraid at the prospect of potential persecution of Christians and acts of terrorism – that, quite realistically, may happen with an influx of Muslim refugees – and expressed the need to prevent their entry into the U.S. (You can read her full comment by clicking on the title of the article above if you’d like.)
I’d like to share my response to her with you. Terrorism and persecution are things this generation has never had to face on U.S. soil until recently, but we need to face the reality that it will probably become commonplace within our lifetimes. How will we face our enemies in a Christlike way?
“I understand your fear. I really do. I live near New Orleans, a major, international port city which would be one of the first gateways for Muslim immigrants to enter this country. The city I live in is home to industries that are ripe targets for terrorist attacks.
And there’s nothing – absolutely nothing – I can do about it. Yes, I can vote and I can call and email my legislators and urge them to make laws I think are appropriate, but the bottom line is that they’re going to do whatever it is they want to do, and I have no control over that. Neither do you. Neither does Stacy.
So let’s set aside the idea of “allowing” or “welcoming” Muslim immigrants into our country (which is different from welcoming individual Muslims into our homes, when appropriate, or ministering to them in other venues). As average citizens, we don’t have the power to allow or prevent them from coming in.
I want to clarify again, as I did above, that is not the point of this article.
Stacy is talking about ministering to people God places in your path no matter how they got there. No matter who they are. Have you not read Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan? (Luke 10:25-37) Muslim immigrants who are already here or who, whether we want them to or not, may come here in the future, are our neighbors. Should we be wise and be careful? Of course. Should we allow our fear to keep us from obeying Christ’s command to share the gospel with others and minister to them? No way.
You said, “Loving our enemies means sacrifice, pain, and even death.” You’re absolutely right, and that is the kind of “die to self, take up your cross and follow Me” love that Christ calls us to have for others. Because that is what He did for us. While we were at enmity with Him, He laid down His life for us. (Romans 5:8)
Christ gave His life to save Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate and the mob who screamed for His death and the enemy Roman soldiers who mocked Him, whipped Him, and drove thorns into His brow and nails into His hands and feet, so that their greatest need – the forgiveness of their sin – could be met.
The apostles got this (and they got it far better than we do today). They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. (Acts 5:40-42) How can we not look upon loving, serving, and evangelizing our neighbors in the name of Christ in the same way?
Safety and caution are important, but they are not the Christian’s number one concern. Our number one concern is to follow Christ and obey Him wherever that may lead us and whatever it may cost us. Where would we be if Christ had not done that for us?”