Dear Christians, Jesus Was A Refugee


Dear Christians,

Did you know that Jesus was a refugee? His parents escaped the brutality of Herod and lived in Egypt for years.

Yes. As a middle eastern refugee family.

Sincerely,

The Bible

The letter above was written for me. And FYI, this is not a conservative vs. liberal issue. This is not a Christian versus Muslim issue. This is not even an ISIS versus the West issue.

This is a me-against-myself issue.

You see, the solution to this monumental problem cannot be found in anyone but me.

Yes.

Me!

I am the solution.

I will stop expecting America to be the solution.

I will stop expecting bombs to be the solution.

I will stop expecting my pastors to be the solution.

I will stop expecting Facebook rants to be the solution.

I am the solution.

My belief is that we need to welcome refuges. My other belief is that unless I’m willing to open the doors to my own home, then I need to shut up about it. 

There are many ways you and I can get involved. I have chosen to sign up with the World Relief organization to help those who are coming as refugees to my area. As a family, we are also in the process of adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia.

You know why? Because I don’t want to miss the chance of engaging with Jesus in the flesh: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:34-36

There are more than 10,000 human beings desperately looking for shelter.

10,000 Syrian refugees.

10,000 Jesus’ in waiting.

This was the number of refugees the US was planning to receive, there are many, many more.

Like the the boy in this picture. His name is Omran.

And Omran is Jesus. 

His country has been devastated by a civil war that has raged on for more than four years. And ISIS (as well as Russia and the Syrian government) have taken advantage of the pain and the carnage.

We mustn’t forget that many innocent children like Omran are included in the 10,000 number. That there are lovely grandmothers and creative entrepreneurs in the mix. There’s also a few scientists and teachers and doctors.

And yes, maybe just maybe, a few wannabe terrorists.

I’m hopeful that the doors of our nation stay open. And if any ISIS operative manages to get through customs and immigration, I’m hopeful they get to meet with me and my friends.

I dream that it would be me who picks them up at the airport. That they would come to my home for rice and beans. Then, they would play with my children and take some of my money. And after that, they would meet my Savior and become radical lovers of Him.

I know it sounds delusional. Yet I choose the radical hope found in the gospel of Jesus. It worked in the New Testament so I know it can work in our day and age.

Here’s another letter to remind us:

Dear Christians,

Saul of Tarsus met Jesus on the road to Damascus (the capital of Syria).

And he was a terrorist who hated Christians.

He became the Apostle Paul after a Syrian welcomed him into his home and healed his blindness. 

Sincerely,

The Bible

I believe that the Road to Damascus Experience is part of the spiritual inheritance of all those 10,000 Syrians. The law tells me to keep them out. To punish them for the sins of their fathers. To despise them and leave them to sort out their own mess.

Jesus says different.

Jesus is God.

And God is right.

So I’m sticking with Him. “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:18-19

Ultimately, I think that my frustration is self-inflicted. I want this nation to behave like a Christian (at least my incomplete version of what a Christian looks like).

I want zero abortions, compassion for the poor, opportunities to prosper.

But America is not the body of Christ.

We are.

You and I.

And let me put the emphasis on the “I”.

We are believers of a way that is above patriotism, comfort and human nature. Our distinctive is holiness and compassion; it’s beauty and self-sacrifice… It is the cross and the resurrection. And whatever I want to see around me, I need to stop telling you to do it. So I’m done telling others that they need to love their enemies. I’m finished with imposing my ethics and theology on my sisters and brothers.

I’m sick of the sound of my own self-righteousness!

Yes, I believe in adoption and will adopt our daughter. Oh yes, I will continue to prioritize my children and try to love my wife as Christ loves the church. It will continue to be my honor to teach in church and serve the local congregation.

And I will add giving of my time and space to helping refugees.

It’s time to make my life the loudest blog post.

And yes, it would be appropriate to finish this article with a third letter:

Dear Carlos,

The world won’t read me, but they will read you. 

Your faith without works is dead. 

Sincerely,

The Bible

+ If you agree, share this invitation with your friends on Facebook. If you don’t, I am honestly interested in hearing your thoughts.

Please comment below.

Peace.


Carlos is a pastor, a provocative preacher and the author of "Designed for Inheritance". He also serves as director of Catch the Fire Latin America and Chief Editor at HappySonship.com. Together with his wife Catherine, they have two gorgeous boys and are awaiting a baby girl through adoption.

27 Comments

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  1. I don’t disagree with you. What worries me is what will happen to the many persecuted Christians around the world who are also trying to get into the US, Australia or European countries some who have fled their countries and are waiting, in refugee camps in Malaysia for example, some for many years to come to the US. I have been trying to help one such family and even without the Syrian refugees the chances are very small for this family of four to come here. Why should the Syrians take priority? Why are we not better helping the Syrians regain their own country where I am sure they would prefer to live. Do we just let ISIS take over country after country. These are very hard questions with no simple answers.

    Much like what has been written about everyone supporting France and not so much the Kenya or Iraq terror attacks, why is the focus on Syrian refugees and not the bigger world refugee problem which includes many persecuted Christians around the world? I personally feel led to help my Christian brothers and sisters first. Look in your own heart at who God wants you to help and then help them.

    • I agree, Suzanne, and don’t disagree with Carlos either. But the Bible is very clear when it says, ‘Do good, especially to the household of faith…’ In prayer recently, I felt an emphasis upon this scripture concerning Christian immigration and the bias against it while the fact remains the Christians are the persecuted minority. I live in Jordan and, currently I am helping the Iraqi and Syrian Christians who’ve had to flee from IS. I’ve seen 2 Christian refugee families go to the US in over a year. The last was a young couple who were the only Christians out 20 families (80-100 people). Even the percentage of Syrian Christian coming into the US is skewed from the actual percent of Syrian Christians which is 10%. Out of about 2000 immigrants in the last 2 years, about 50 were Christians. That’s 2.5% vs the 10% Christian population in Syria. As Christians, it should be our priority to do good, especially to those of the household of faith…

  2. The only thing I would disagree with in this post is the use of Saul as an example for these refugees. Even so, if that is the case, the man who received him had a direct revelation from the Lord and even at that he was still unsure and somewhat fearful. Even after Saul’s conversion many in the church we’re afraid of him and it wasn’t until several years after Barnabas had taken him in that Paul gained credibility within the community of the church. Furthermore, the Lord confirmed Paul’s calling with signs and wonders. Not all those in Damascus were called of the Lord to take Saul in and so we must also allow some of our brothers and sisters to be where they are in their walk and in their faith and not suppose that we should all embrace these refugees as brethren. Nevertheless, there is a need and we must each do as the Lord has instructed us by both His Word and His Spirit. The Word without the Spirit is legalism and the Spirit without the Word is like a bird with no place to rest. The Spirit gives life to the Word and the Word gives rest to the Spirit. When they agree we have peace in our hearts; for then, we are one with Father and His purpose is accomplished in our lives. For some that will look like taking in the refugees and yet for others it will look like being watchful and vigilant. Both can agree and both are good!

  3. I believe in adoption (my grandson is adopted). I believe in good works (I work at a local food pantry). But I do not believe in letting all the Syrian refugees in without out careful screening. I feel like your post places people into an all or nothing position. Either you are for all those good things which must include letting all the refugees in or you are against all those good things.

    Of course, we are called to love our enemies but that doesn’t mean to forgo wisdom in dealing with them. Yes, Jesus, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt because
    Joseph was told to go to keep themselves safe. The three Magi were told to go another way home to stay safe as well. God is obviously interested in our safety.
    What does radical love benefit if your house guest then blows up your local mall killing hundreds? There is a way to show extravagant love as well as being wise in our actions. Let’s take the time to think these through without the “I’m right, you are wrong” stance.

    I love your blog and wish you God’s peace but I cannot agree here with you.

    • What does radical love benefit? Grace and salvation. What the heck are you more scared of physical death or spiritual death? True wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Worldly prudence is spiritual foolishness and spiritual wisdom is worldly foolishness.

    • Actually if you read the article he says 10,000 is what the US agreed to take and he states there are many many more

    • 9 [a]Anyone who [b]goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. We’re letting these folks into our house. We are told not to do that. We owe God to love these people and help them. There are safe places in the Middle East. We can help them there. The Boston bombers were refugees. The 9/11 attackers had come here legally. Many of these people would never commit an act of terror, but some are here for that purpose. John said not to let them in our house.

      • I feel so sad for those Christians who are so scare about to die loving even our “enemies” whoever this looks for everyone.

  4. Of course they will be screened. Thank you for a well written and heart felt piece. I agree with you completely.

  5. I was raised Christian and have drifted in and out of belief for most of my adult life, but one thing that has never left me is the moral teachings of Jesus. I’m feeling compelled to return to our local Quaker meeting because I feel the need to surround myself with Christians who act Christ-like, because I’m about to lose my mind from all the hatred I see around me in this supposedly Christian nation. “What you do to the least of these, you do to me” — that wasn’t just an empty slogan. Nor was Do Unto Others.

    I’m also doing what little I can by making donations to charitable organizations that help the needy. If I find I can do more, I most certainly will.

    Most importantly, I refuse to live in fear. Open and free societies are inherently vulnerable to risk. If we close our borders because one bad person might slip through, then we’ve become prisoners to our own fears. How can a Christian nation, a nation of immigrants, turn its back on people who just want a place to live?

    Thank you for this post.

  6. I heard a news piece that the US was considering refugees that have been living in camps in Lebanon, some for two years. What if it’s a young family with children like my grandchildren, do we turn them away?

  7. Thank you so much for writing this article. As a conservative republican I found myself having the exact same argument with myself. Your article makes things so much clearer. The right thing to do is often the hardest thing to do.

  8. Helping those refugees is a good idea but misinterpreting, misapplying and paraphrasing God’s word to support an opinion of a current event to guilt Christians into acting irrationally, irresponsibly and dangerously is just wrong. This writers gross misuse and paraphrase of scripture is simply wrong. Guys like this are everywhere in modern Christianity. The, never let context stand in the way of a good story crowd. The context of the Matthew 25 passage he used is clearly the end time tribulation and the Jew. Jesus was a Jew and came unto the nation Israel by promise, Jesus brethren in v. 40 pertains to the Jew in the tribulation. If you read the verse as the writer would have you read it, it implies a works based salvation. Using the verse this way implies that if you take in a refugee it’s your ticket into heaven. We know this to be false by the many other words of our Lord and the whole New Testament. If this passage was meant to be read as he and others who invoke it every time they are trying to get you to do what they want, usually charity of some sort, the death burial and resurrection wouldn’t be necessary because this passage says all you have to do is give somebody thirsty a cup of water and you get into heaven. Ridiculous! Likening Saul to a terrorist is not only and insult but shows a gross misunderstanding of the whole Old Testament Jew and nation Israel. Likening Ananias to a Syrian refugees and implying that he was responsible for the conversion of Saul is ridiculous and sounds like his theology comes from the silly deductive reasoning used in the direct tv commercials. Love does not require us to turn off our brain and the false teaching and misapplying of God’s word only adds confusion to a difficult problem.

    Sent from my iPad

    • Jesus was not talking Jews because Jews don’t call Him Lord. If they did they would be Christians. He was talking about good Christians and bad Christians.

  9. Helping those refugees is a good idea but misinterpreting, misapplying and paraphrasing God’s word to support an opinion of a current event to guilt Christians into acting irrationally, irresponsibly and dangerously is just wrong. This writers gross misuse and paraphrase of scripture is simply wrong. Guys like this are everywhere in modern Christianity. The, never let context stand in the way of a good story crowd. The context of the Matthew 25 passage he used is clearly the end time tribulation and the Jew. Jesus was a Jew and came unto the nation Israel by promise, Jesus brethren in v. 40 pertains to the Jew in the tribulation. If you read the verse as the writer would have you read it, it implies a works based salvation. Using the verse this way implies that if you take in a refugee it’s your ticket into heaven. We know this to be false by the many other words of our Lord and the whole New Testament. If this passage was meant to be read as he and others who invoke it every time they are trying to get you to do what they want, usually charity of some sort, the death burial and resurrection wouldn’t be necessary because this passage says all you have to do is give somebody thirsty a cup of water and you get into heaven. Ridiculous! Likening Saul to a terrorist is not only and insult but shows a gross misunderstanding of the whole Old Testament Jew and nation Israel. Likening Ananias to a Syrian refugees and implying that he was responsible for the conversion of Saul is ridiculous and sounds like his theology comes from the silly deductive reasoning used in the direct tv commercials. Love does not require us to turn off our brain and the false teaching and misapplying of God’s word only adds confusion to a difficult problem.

    Sent from my iPad

  10. 9 [a]Anyone who [b]goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. We’re letting these folks into our house. We are told not to do that. We owe God to love these people and help them. There are safe places in the Middle East. We can help them there. The Boston bombers were refugees. The 9/11 attackers had come here legally. Many of these people would never commit an act of terror, but some are here for that purpose. John said not to let them in our house.

  11. It was not road to road to Damascus that changed the heart of Saul of Tarsus. It was only after the direct intervention from God. Let God intervene and the middle easterners met Jesus, other wise we need to verify who these people are.

    America needs to restore our Trust In God, repent and turn away from of our sinful ways, or the BIBLE has many examples of God’s wreath on a sinful nation.

  12. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/427153/refugee-resettlement-immoral

    “In other words, each refugee we bring to the United States means that eleven others are not being helped with that money. Faced with twelve drowning people, only a monster would send them a luxurious one-man boat rather than twelve life jackets. And yet, with the best of intentions, that is exactly what we are doing when we choose one lucky winner to resettle here. Some will object that we can do both — relocate some refugees here and care for others in their native region. But money is not infinite. Every dollar the government spends is borrowed and will have to be paid back by our grandchildren.

    . . . The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports a $2.5 billion funding shortfall in caring for Syrian refugees in the Middle East. The five-year cost of resettling just 39,000 Syrians in the U.S. would erase the entire current UNHCR shortfall. Security concerns aside, it is morally unjustifiable to help the few at the expense of the many.”

    So while the “Christian” Left is churning out self-congratulatory memes for not just spending but wasting other people’s money to show how “generous” the Left is, the adults in the room are thinking about how to best help the refugees and to keep people safe.

  13. My house isn’t big enough for all of the people I would love to shelter. But for the Syrian refugees I’m praying that a Syrian safe zone is possible and that the Syrian refugees would then be able to return to their homelands when this crisis ends. Would you join me? And that their families would be able to stay intact. I try to think of the big picture in these peoples lives: husbands, wives, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and cousins staying together. Jesus has blessed me with a wonderful family that I would rather stay with, closer to home in maybe not such great conditions rather than split up and leave for a long wait to a life uncertain. And in the near future food, water, security, could be available to all. It’s reported the Turkish President is attempting to establish one in Northern Syria. I believe with serious support from the U.S. and partnering with other countries it could be possible. And for more than 10,000 people. No one offered me a penny, but here I go…I’m not focusing on the vetting process, to get into the U.S. I’m focusing on how can these people have a chance to get their lives back someday and keep their families together in the meantime. By prayer and petition. I’m praying and I’ve written my Governor, Senator, and Reps. It was as easy as just a few emails. I have a peace that Jesus is good with me sharing my prayers with the Government.

  14. Jesus will rebuild this nation. I see born again Christians witnessing their faith and God rebuilding what has been torn down. God is raising up His people in and around this nation. Many are coming to Christ.

  15. I am a homeless non – Christian senior American and you want to take in people from the other side of the world? Is it any wonder that I am non – Christian?

    • We should be coming to you, taking in what we have here in America. And we should be going to them as well. The author is confusing government responsibilities with Christianity.

  16. My friend refugees are not coming here to draw us to themselves as Jesus did, to take us where He went. We do not Choose JESUS He chooses us, He did not come to us for help but He came to us to help and save us, He did not want our help as He said to Peter don’t you know I can Ask my FATHER to send me His angels and He would”because JESUS came to save us. So the refugee example means nothing to this situation. Secondly, we are called to go out into the world making disciples not trying to get as much people to come to us. Thirdly, we got to do what we are called to do and government must do what they are called to do and that is protect us, GOD has placed them there to do so. They are leaders of the country they are leaders of, you can only help as best as you can without putting your people in danger. That is their job rightfully. The world is wicked around us that is a reality we must accept, it’s not the government’s job to provide us people to evangelize, their job is to protectus. I see more hope and joy in the Christians in countries where they are persecuted and treated horribly, because they hold on to the FAITH GOD has given them. Over here we have protests and people freaking out over stuff over silly things. The Christian Church in America is not even handling itself here in America yet you want to take in more, along with adding persecutions. I go on mission trips and I care for these people the horrid they have, I am not shocked because I understand the reality. We all die and people suffer, but we are the light of the world we have the words of Eternal life BY GOD. We Shine the light, and I know you know that. I care for those people, and I know the Gospel is not hindered there. I also know the sick stuff there, the murderers murdering in sick ways and doing acts of ways that would tramatize most Americans just from hearing about it. I know the government must protect us from them, because it spreads fast and it would here in America, my generation the millennials follow anything that is told to them, they are like waves of the sea. So the American government is over the people of America, their safety is number one and they bring in people in a way that will not cause harm to the people they have a responsibly over, to which is the American people and rightfully so. We as Christians are called to be a light to the world, we are in danger and we face persecutions throughout the world. You must understand this. My point is that you are confusing the responsibilities set before us.