Christians Debate State Bans on Syrian Refugees after Paris Attacks

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jimcarwest's picture

To  compare border security of two thousand years ago to that of today is a silly attempt.  No one can show that nations so long ago had firmly established borders or established rules for immigration.  To say that Jesus was an immigrant  because His parents fled to Egypt to escape the infanticide practiced by King Herod is a stretch of imagination designed to justify the invasion of immigrants who are coming to western countries.  Does a nation possess no authority to protect its citizens from enemies who seek to destroy it?  Does it have no legal right to control the adverse effects that unmanaged immigration may have on its economy?  Consider: if a nation has no right to protect its borders, does a homeowner have a right to protect his own property from those who might exercise squatter's rights?  We are a nation of laws, and Governors are elected to guarantee the exercise of those laws.  World relief organizations who do not respect these laws are operating with the same redistribution of wealth mentality as the current Progressives of today.  One cannot justify the un-checked entry of those whose background cannot be verified, especially when the enemies of our way of life seeks to take advantage of our generosity to introduce violent enemies who are determined to destroy our religion, our liberties, and our economy.  Only foolish "do-gooders" would support such follyl.

jimcarwest's picture

It is reported that some of these so-called Christian relief agencies, such as Catholic Charities, Lutheran Charities, and others receive almost entirely their funds from the government for resettling immigrants and other charitable activities.  If this is true, it is no wonder that they are so strongly in opposition to stopping the flow of Syrians into the United States.  If this is not true, the onus is on them to show otherwise.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Do we ever consider that because of the violence, upheaval, unstableness, and danger in Middle Eastern countries which had made missions work virtually impossible in those areas, that God is sovereignly moving immigrants from Syria  to countries such as the United State where evangelism can take place?  I am very concerned about safety too, that we make sure all of the vetting process for these refugees is exhaustive and tough. Yet I think we need to heed the words of wise words such as this: 

In Sunday school many years ago, I heard the tales of the missionaries of olden days and my heart was awed by their bravery and their sacrifice. They suffered disease, famine, shipwreck, and death at very hands of the people they went to reach.

We were inspired. We were delighted. “Anywhere with Jesus,” we would sing, “I may safely go.”

Unless, of course, that place is Walmart in my hometown and I may see Syrian refugees there.

Here’s what confuses me to no end: when did American fundagelicals become so very timid in their faith that the prospect of importing an entire new mission field to evangelize in their own back yards is something to fear and dread? When did Bring them In turn to Please Keep them Out?

The Christian missionaries we revered went half a world away to reach these self-same souls. Perhaps the point all along was that these people were heroic in going out to save us the trouble of having the world come in instead.

Or darker yet, perhaps some people just aren’t considered to be worth saving.

jimcarwest's picture

To say that opposition to bringing in possible terrorists into your homeland is somehow against missionary activity is bizarre beyond words.  The Bible says, "GO into all the world and preach the gospel...", not import as many as possible into your country in order to evangelize them.  If by some stroke of providence, people arrive in one's country, of course, one does everything in one's power to evangelize them.  The Bible advocates showing hospitality to believers in one's home also,  but it doesn't advocate seeking strangers to live in one's home.  The Bible tells us to "go into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in," but it doesn't tell us to do all we can to compel strangers to come live with us.  The Bible tell us to show empathy and do good to Christians who are in prison, but it doesn't command us to show compassion to criminals by inviting them to live with us.  When we are dealing with immigrants, and especially those who may do harm to us, our children, and our nation, we would be wise to follow wisdom principles and not sentimental claptrap.

Joel Shaffer's picture

Its not strange at all, if you have a broader (and I believe a more Biblical) perspective on what it mean to go.   Going and making disciples among the nations (ethnic groups) should not  to be viewed as only reaching across geographical distances, but also cultural/ethnic distances (Matt. 28: 18-20; Acts 1:8-Samaria).  In fact, the major population/migration shifts that are happening since the middle of the 20th century, have contributed to the massive growth of people that are converting to Christianity throughout the world.  For instance, for all the talk about immigration and terrorism in France, what gets lost is that around 25,000 of Muslim immigrants convert to Christianity (mostly evangelical and/or Protestant) each year!  The majority of evangelicals in France are now black and brown, not white.  When people are uprooted from the homes and from their family and social networks, they are most open to the gospel.  On a more personal example, one of my friends pastors a multi-ethnic Baptist church in the Godwin Heights neighborhood of Wyoming Michigan (a suburb of Grand Rapids) a community with around 50 different languages that are spoken.   Around 25 people in their congregation come from the Mande Tribe of Sierra Leone.  All of them were Muslim and when they came to America, but they were much more open to the gospel because they were uprooted from many of their social networks.  There is another 100 or so friends and family from the Mande Tribe in Godwin that have not converted yet, but this church has penetrated a Muslim Tribe from Sierra Leone with the gospel in their community.  

Second, can't we also follow wisdom principles and not fall folly to "sentimental claptrap" as we bring Syrian Refugees to America?  As I mentioned before, if the vetting process is exhaustive and tough (and it is much tougher with Syrian Refugees than others) then I have no problem bringing in these refugees to America.  We don't need to create a false dilemma when speaking on this issue.   

Third, as an urban missionary for the last 20 or so years, we have personally had several homeless people live with us and even recently had a "criminal"(he spent 4 years in prison for holding up a convenient store before his life was transformed by Jesus) live with my family before he got married last Friday (living with his mother and her sin issues got in the way of his discipleship).   Of course the Bible doesn't give us prescriptive formulas of sacrificially loving people, but the Bible does give us several descriptive ways that Jesus and the early church loved people.  And the church from the 2nd century until now has followed in this example, including its emphasis on sacrificially loving immigrants and refugees.  

jimcarwest's picture

The major migration shifts have occurred by accidents of history, not by the determined, deliberate intention of governments.  They have not been through the influence of Christian churches who seek to do their missionary work by importing the lost to their own countries.  When migrations occur naturally, of course  Christians will take advantage of them to proclaim the gospel. It's quite another thing to advocate the immigration of people from other nations to come to our own country simply because we wish to evangelize them.  When those peoples are violent, have a natural antagonism to our country's way of life, and represent a threat to the internal peace of our country, this practice borders on the absurd.  One doesn't read that anywhere in the Scriptures.  Turning a nation that is bound together by one common language into a polyglot nation of peoples is not wise.  It creates artificial divisions that destroy the traditions that have made America the strong nation it has been.  It creates language, social, economic, and theological divisions that threaten the way of life of a people.  Missionary work has been traditionally done since the beginning of the church by taking the gospel where people live, not by moving them into areas where Christians already reside.

It is a known fact that many immigrants oppose the principles upon which our country exists; they come with ulterior motives to eventually take over the nation by population explosion so that they become a majority one day (as is happening in Europe);  they have intention to use violence as a response to the foreign policy of our government.  The current administration is opening the door to many who cannot be vetted because they come from areas like Syria where the FBI has no records that reveal anything about their backgrounds.  Are we to follow this foolish policy simply because we would like to minister to people whom we could not otherwise reach?  

Anyway, it appears we are speaking to two different concerns -- both of which are correct in the proper context.  Joel seems to be in favor of immigration of anyone and everyone because it may result in reaching people otherwise inaccessible with the gospel. When this happens, Christians will doubtless seek to penetrate these cultures with the gospel.   I am addressing the issue of immigration as a threat to the body politic and internal peace and stability of our country because of the threat that uncontrolled immigration represents for the nation.  It might be well to point out that many liberal progressives are belittling Christians by saying we are not practicing love and acceptance when we exercise control over illegal immigration or when we oppose the present administrationm which denies to the States the authority to control immigration in their jurisdiction.  I am saying that Christians are only acting with common sense when they oppose such politically-motivated opinion in a desire to protect the integrity of their borders and thus guarantee security to our population.