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Refugee Crisis – What Does God Say?

Next week is Thanksgiving. You know, the holiday where we thank the Native Americans for letting us be refugees in their country.

And because we are currently facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, I thought it wise to put a Biblical perspective on the whole thing.

How are we to respond, as Christians, to the refugee crisis, especially when it’s coming to our country, our city, and our neighborhoods?

My major concern is that we’re in danger of forgetting who we are, whom we belong to, and how we are to act. The refugee crisis is uncovering a Christian identity crisis.

And yes, I know, some of you won’t agree with what I say in this post, but that’s OK. We’ll still be friends because sometimes friends disagree. Plus, we’re stuck together for the rest of eternity anyway, so we gotta stay friends, right?

First, a little Bible history about refugees

  • Adam and Eve were refugees when deported from the garden.
  • Abraham was an immigrant.
  • Jacob and his large family became refugees in a foreign land, Egypt, where they would be discriminated against and people wouldn’t like them.
  • Jesus was a refugee when Joseph took Him and Mary to Egypt.
  • Paul was definitely a refugee for most of his ministry.

In fact, a lot of our Bible heroes were refugees!

Maybe that’s why the Scriptures calls us to offer hospitality to aliens (and God wasn’t talking about little green men here).

It’s the second most prevalent command in the Old Testament—welcome the stranger (see Exodus 22:21 and Leviticus 19:33,34)

Why? Because we’re all strangers, welcomed into God’s kingdom.

Now a little U.S. history

Probably more experienced than Europe in handling immigrants and refugees, the United States is a nation of refugees and immigrants. We’re not one culture. We’re multicultural. It works. That’s who we are—Americans.

Unless you are a Native American or arrived via slave or sex trafficking, you are here because you, or your ancestors, immigrated or arrived as refugees.

Plus, you brought evil stuff with you.

Italians brought the mafia, South Americans brought the cartels and drug wars, Cubans and Mexican’s brought their gangs, and the Asians brought sex trafficking and more drugs.

And all immigrants and refugees brought the evil of a sin nature.

They still do. Even with our vetting and entrance requirements for refugees wanting to live here, there’s still the sin nature that’s a real problem. And we all have it.

Refugees: opportunity or doom?

Do you remember most of the names of the twelve spies Moses sent out on a scouting mission to check out the Promised Land (see Numbers 13 & 14)?

You probably only remember two… Joshua and Caleb. These were the two who took the discouraging information collected and mixed it with faith. They saw destiny and opportunity ahead.

The other ten are names you don’t remember, because they left a terrible legacy. They had the very same information as Joshua and Caleb, but they mixed it with fear. All they saw was a giant threat.

The refugee crisis is like that. It’s handled one way by politicians, another way by Christians.

Politicians mix the facts of the refugee crisis with fear, because ISIS is scary.

Christians have the same information as the politicians, but we mix it with faith and see opportunity and destiny for God’s kingdom.

As believers, we minister to people, and refugees are people. They are our mission, and they are coming to us! We don’t have to go to them.

And yes, there are bad ISIS guys mixed in with these refugees. Just like the data that the ten spies focused on… giants, so to speak.

But we’re not part of the ten. We’re part of the two… Joshua and Caleb. We mix the scary information we know about ISIS with faith.

God’s Perspective

God loves the world so much that in these end times, before He returns, He brings people, called refugees, to us! He’s counting on us to be His love with skin on to these Muslim people.

I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest (John 4:35 NIV).

I recently heard Dr. Ted Vail, Associate Director of Foursquare Missions International say this,

One of the greatest evangelism tools right now is ISIS. Because modern Muslims are going, “Wait a minute, we believe that?

When people, even Muslims, are in trauma and need, Christ followers need to act like Christ… to be the helping hand, to pray with the hurting, to offer food and shelter.

How else will they hear the good news? That there is a God who, rather than killing, died for them. Rather than hating, loves them. And rather than turning them away, embraces them.

They need God’s love, not rejection.

Love is the one common thread in every testimony that a former Muslim will talk about when sharing his conversion to Christ.

And yes. People will die. That is the risk. That is the cost.

But as a Christian, you’ve already counted the cost, right? You’re ready to lay down your life for others, right?

Are you ready to endanger your family? I’m not saying you should. But no missionary family is really protected are they?

Just remember—most Muslims aren’t ISIS. They are fleeing ISIS. They aren’t our enemy. They are our mission.

What will your legacy tell? Will you be counted with Joshua and Caleb? Or will your name be listed with those names none of us can remember?

Thanks for reading my rant,


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This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Gayle Moody

    Thanks, Susan, for this balanced view. God calls us to be wise, but ultimately, it’s not about “me” but about being His Hand extended to the lost. I so very much want to protect my family from terrorism, but there’s so much more to it than that!

    1. Susan Gaddis

      The mama bear comes out in me when I think about ISIS and my kids and grandkids too, Gayle. Yet I know that I have to exercise faith rather than fear or worry in that arena, and honestly, there really is no where on earth that my family can be protected from evil happenings. And it’s going to get worse as time goes by. But I can also look at it as a great opportunity to teach and train them in how to stand up against evil. To be a Joshua in a land of giants. I want them to learn how to walk in faith at much younger age than I’ve been learning it. I want them to experience God in bigger ways than I ever have. And that means that they will experience evil in ways I never did also. *sigh*

  2. Kristina

    I really liked your article! It made me think. I am living in Berlin right now, and there are a lot of refugees coming here. So this topic is totally close to me. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Susan Gaddis

      Oh, I’m so glad it made you “think,” Kristina! That was my goal, to get people thinking and looking at the crisis through lens of faith, not just fear.

      And wow, you live in Berlin! You’re experiencing first hand the refugee crisis coming to your front door. Blessings and peace to you through that, and may God open many doors for you to share his love with these people. It is when people are hurting the most that they are the most open to the Gospel.

      Go get ’em, girl!

  3. Lori

    As Christians, we don’t hate all the refugees. We hate what some have done. As a momma bear, iit does cause a since of fear by letting them come into our country. We can’t take care of our own right now. We have soldiers out fighting to keep us safe and losing life and limbs. Our nation cannot afford to take them in. As sad as it is, we can pray for them, send them supplies and do what we can from a distance. God did not create such a beautiful place for us to destroy it.
    We are standing on the words of God, praying he will keep us safe.

    1. Susan Gaddis

      Thanks for sharing your heart, Lori. It sounds like you’re a great mama bear!

  4. cindy king

    i like your thoughts and for months i have been watching the news ,i think most of the christian friends i know have the love for all these poor people and pray for them , but looking at the communities with american veterans,senors,children,and the list goes on of the people we have little or no homes for ,extra food ,few shelters for them to go to ,where are we to put thousands more ,and until we get our own homeless and low income seniors a place to live in our communities that we are not dealing with very well , we have to go on a pause,and take time to pray and think about how to deal with this situation ,and yes we dont have much time left . we will pray for them and love them of course what ever the outcome .perhaps money so they can go to closer countries that they are more familiar with and have camps till the states in the US can decide .

    1. Susan Gaddis

      That’s a good point, Cindy. We do have many poor people including those who are old, veterans, homeless, etc. According to the Scriptures, we will have them with us until Jesus comes back. And we need to continue to give to the poor and care for them. I don’t think that restricts us though in taking in refugees, especially since many refugees are put with families or churches who will help them get established. I am glad my post got you thinking and processing the options, though you may not have arrived at the same conclusion I did. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Mary Collins

    What a heavy post, with tons to think about. I am one of those that are torn. As a Christian, I cringe when I heard the governor of my state says he is fighting to prevent any refugees from entering our state. I immediately thought about those poor people who are running for their lives to a safe place to live. Then there is the part of me that is afraid. Afraid of possible terrorist among the refugees and the possibilities of trouble that may arise. Thanks for thoughtfully pointing out the numerous refugees we have adored in the Bible. Much food for thought.

    1. Susan Gaddis

      Thanks for sharing your fears and your compassion, Mary. I think you represent many Christians who are trying to weed through the information bombarding us from news channels and social media. I’m thankful my post provided food for thought and, hopefully, a reminder of how great a God we serve.

  6. Mc Chavez

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Susan. I appreciate it.

    Present company excluded, I notice that of those who have reservations of Syrians being allowed to enter into the U.S., there is a type of shaming in social media that I’ve seen occur. Sometimes it is subtle, and sometimes it isn’t subtle at all. Those reservations or sharp criticism,are often labeled “fear” and “hatred” that I find troubling.

    True, the outrage runs a huge gamut – from those who seem to have lost the fact that we are a nation built by refugees, and those who view any transplant who isn’t white as a detriment to our nation, to those who have no real idea how we are going to pay for the infrastructure and jarring economy shifts that opening the gates to anyone seeking safety, asylum or otherwise.

    I try to keep in mind “risks we accepted in light of Christianity, and the “collateral” damage that can occur in the well doing of being a Christian. “I’m concerned that to disagree with accommodating the acceptance of refugees into our country or question the reality of that, is labeled as “cold.”

    One can care about endangered women an children as much as the next person. However, I’m left with increasing reservations when I sort out facts from opinion. In Germany, over a half-million people have been allowed to enter. An estimated 527,000 have sought refuge in Germany. “1 in 3” Syrian of those passports are reported forgeries. Is this rally so? If that’s the case, why are women and children curiously absent from the influx? And how might this likewise affect the U.S. population?


    Thanks for reading,
    ~ m

    I can express

  7. Mc Chavez

    I wish there was an edit feature for my misspellings and overly springy keyboard, etc. Ack.

  8. Beyth

    Yes, the First Nations helped the first Europeans as refugees, but eventually the Europeans took our lands from us. Is history to be repeated?
    While the Old Testament speaks about the stranger, it never says to welcome thousands of people entrance. Certainly, the Jews didn’t either and they aren’t doing so now. However, the scriptures say for us to not vex the stranger that comes into our land (once they have been allowed proper entrance).
    Multiculturalism is destroying our nation, not uniting us, because it is a progressive ideology for the purpose of division. Yes, we are a nation of many subcultures, but our American culture is a unique culture that is different from other countries. We want newcomers to contribute and embrace our American culture.
    Of course every group has contributed to human sin, but I would not say that Italians brought the Mafia, because most Italians came here to start a new life. Unfortunately, the Sicilian Mafia knew where to find young recruits – the children of immigrants. The government contributed to the problem, and Prohibition increased the influence of the Mafia in this country. Likewise, the same could be said for the other groups. But what about the Europeans and Blacks? They each have contributed to their portion of problems.
    Many of the politicians have been favoring immigration in various forms for their own reelection campaigns and agendas. Yet, our government doesn’t respect the rights of the Christians: tearing down our monuments, imposing non-Christian morality on us, and indoctrinating our children. While last weekend was a shock to many, should we be opening our doors to everyone claiming they are refugees? Most of the refugees are young men coming from other countries. If we are not careful, we will become the victims of the political messiness just as the Syrians have been.
    Most of the American public are not opposed to real refugees immigrating, but want to proceed with caution. Do we want mosques all over the land, of which many have been used for recruitment of terrorist activities? How has Christianity been accepted in Dearborn, Michigan? Christianity has been on the decline in this country, and we haven’t been able to influence our own culture. So, how are we going to be effective in ministering to Muslims?
    Europe has been dealing with the Muslims since the 60’s. In a culture that has abandoned Christianity, Europe has nurtured the political soil and climate on which the Muslim extremist have been allowed to prosper. Are we such a great Christian country to be able to bring them to Christ or have we mixed Christianity with a world mindset to be ineffective? To illustrate one such point, many of the young Christian women are immodestly dressed compared to Middle Eastern standards. How are they going to preach Jesus looking like a Hollywood prostitute? When Christian groups go overseas, they are asked to dress respectfully. Do you think that is going to happen at home, especially among the less “legalistic” Christian groups?
    We don’t know what the future holds for our country. Besides the Muslims who are questioning their religion, many Americans and Europeans are having to question the Progressive propaganda we have been embracing. We are in need of repentance as they are in need of salvation. As Syrian refugees immigrate, and I have met them in the Middle East, I see the importance of love. We must remember that they were once a Christian culture before they were conquered by the Muslim invasion coming out of Arabia.

    1. Susan Gaddis

      Thanks for your thoughts, Beth. I agree that every group that has made the U.S. their home is mainly people who come here to start a new life. That’s my point. Most of these refugees are not radical Muslims. Many mosques are working with authorities in weeding out the extremists. And of course, we need to shore-up our vetting procedures. And we need to tighten our boarders where many extremists come through using false passports. But that doesn’t mean we say “no” to all Muslim refugees.

      Question: Are we going the way we did with the Japanese in WW2? Setting up internment camps? Is that next?

      My focus in this article is the heart of God, and I believe that in these times we have an opportunity before us that God wants us to embrace.

      Do we have to be wise about it? Yes. Do we still embrace the opportunity? I hope so.

  9. Wanda

    First of all a disclaimer: I am not campaigning for Rick Santorum. The following information comes from a friend who works for him.

    I believe very few of us are against providing sanctuary to real victims of the horrors in Syria. But we cannot allow thousands of unvetted Syrian refugees come here. Here’s why: We have a good friend who works with Rick Santorum who wrote,”You should see the full ISIS magazine. 60 some pages of glossy photos of their victims, stories about their violence, all done with professional graphics looking like a fashion magazine. Chilling.” Santorum’s picture is prominately featured in this magazine: https://www.facebook.com/RickSantorum/photos/a.468157332369.259209.44746457369/10153721108757370/?type=3&fref=nf

    They have a hit list. Know your enemy. Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Since I will have little or no voice in the decision of whether or not to bring refugees here, I will pray for them, pray for our leaders, pray for the protection of Rick Santorum and his family and trust God with the outcome.

    1. Susan Gaddis

      Thanks for your input, Wanda, and the link. Good data to know.

      I agree with you that we need to provide sanctuary to the real victims of the horrors in Syria and that weeding out those that are with ISIS is a priority. I understand that the threat is real and dividing the needy from the enemy is not going to be easy.

      However, I’m concerned that we’re throwing the baby out with the bath water. Missing the mission because all we can see are the giants.

      I loved your concluding paragraph, Wanda. That’s a great attitude for all of us to have during these scary times.

  10. kathryn raine

    Susan, thank you for this article, it has been on my heart as I watch and listen to the news. Surely they (the news) are fostering a fear in the hearts of Americans. I myself have suffered prejudice at the hands of people who were filled with fear just because I am black. It has been a lifelong struggle and I for one refuse to judge the many because of the one. Fear and ignorance is the foundation for groups such as the KKK, and its affiliates, the Natzi regime, the bloods and the crips, the people who still refuse service to those who are different than themselves. How can we call ourselves Americans and then turn our backs on the very way this country was built. Yes we need to tend to our fellow citizens but that does not mean we turn our backs to those who are truly being persecuted. Have we forgotten how Christians travels to the middle east and raged war on the Muslims during the Crusades? Is it any wonder that Isis is able to use history to now “wage holy war” Now is the time to show the world that American Christians are able to truly love as the bible tells us to, let us not continue to live as Christians who only love who and what we know!

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