It was dark out, and we were in a nice area in town. Still, my Dad insisted on walking me and my kids to our van. After buckling everyone in I walked around to the driver’s side where he was waiting to give him one more squeeze. Like he has done since I was young, he kissed me on the head, told me “lock your doors and drive safe.” I hopped in the car and closed the door, and stifled a giggle after he tapped on my window when I didn’t lock the doors immediately. I pushed the button, he was satisfied. I pulled out, and in my rear view saw that he watched me until I was on the main road before he ever even turned to walk to his own car.
As humans we have an intense desire to protect ourselves and those we hold most precious to our hearts. I know for a fact that my Dad would do anything to protect me and my family. If it meant defending us by using his gun, or if it meant throwing himself in front of a bullet. He would do it, no hesitation. He makes a point of walking me to my car so he can protect me if necessary, and reminds me to buckle and lock my doors to stay safe while I’m driving without him. I would venture to say your parents do the same for you, or that you would do the same for your children. You do it because you love them and value their lives.
I’m going to be honest with you. I’m not actually writing about my Dad being willing to take a bullet for me. I’m addressing my thoughts on whether or not the US should allow Syrian Refugees to enter here. How does my Dad walking me to my car have anything to do with that? Sit tight.
I have been struggling for several days. I’ve read articles and blog posts, from top officials to dear Christian friends of mine. I’ve watched videos and read Bible verses. I have wrestled with my thoughts, even getting up in the middle of the night to vent and hash it out with my thumbs on my iPhone notepad just so I could stop thinking about it enough to fall asleep.
Here’s the thing. I don’t know the answer. I don’t know the perfect solution to the refugee crisis. I understand what so many Christians are saying in support of bringing refugees here. I know the verses they are quoting. I know we are called to have compassion and I know we are called to help others in need. And truly, these refugees are in desperate need. I have seen the videos of these people arriving on the shores of Greece. Their children and babies in layers of soaked clothing, their lips blue from the frigid temperatures on their harrowing journey. These people feared for their lives so much that the dangers of piling into a raft and floating miles and miles across the ocean was worth it to them in search of safety and hope. This while knowing a raft per day doesn’t make it to shore. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched their first, shaky steps off that tattered raft. Their hopeful faces gripped my heart.
I also see the other view. I understand why our Governor and so many others are refusing to accept refugees. I understand the very real likelihood that terrorists or ISIS sympathizers have infiltrated these people, posing as refugees. We already know that one of the terrorists from the Paris attacks was among the refugees. Certainly there are more. ISIS has already said they are sending terrorists to pose as refugees. Top officials say that there is no way to fully vet or check backgrounds of all these people. Syria has been a closed country for so many years, documentation is negligent at best.
Here’s my problem. I have read too many posts calling out the Christians who “reject” refugees. Post after post calling into question their compassion, and challenging them to be like Christ. Verses being used to guilt Christians into feeling their faith isn’t strong enough or their compassion is lacking. Is it really so awful that a Christian wants to be safe? Is it a sin for a believer to want to protect their children? Is their faith not as strong as yours because they don’t want a host of terrorists to unleash a spray of bullets or detonate a suicide belt while they are at a concert or enjoying a date night at a restaurant? Does it mean they have zero compassion if they have fears?
I don’t believe for a moment that these people- your Christian friends, your Governors, etc- are rejecting Syrian Refugees. They are rejecting terrorists. Unfortunately for these desperate refugees, that means they get rejected, too, because there is no way to know who is who. It’s basically playing Russian Roulette. There is just no way to know who is who. These people who are against bringing refugees here are not lacking in compassion. They simply desire to stay safe, and keep their families safe. They don’t want to be on the next Breaking News report about an ISIS attack.
People are making this an “either/or” issue. Either you have compassion and faith or you have fear. If that’s the case and we are going to go all extreme- how would that look in reality? Here’s how it would look for me, personally. If I had only compassion and faith that “what can man do to me” mentality, I would invite random strangers into my home with my four children. Bring on the hitchhiker. I would walk downtown at 3am and approach strangers. I would let my kids answer the door while I’m in the shower. I wouldn’t give them boundaries while playing outside, nor would I check on them. For our country? No laws. No borders. No airport screenings. No need for police. Or firefighters. Or military. On the flip side- I could be ruled only by fear. In that case, I wouldn’t let my kids go to school. Newtown, Connecticut, anyone? I certainly wouldn’t let them ride the bus to school- did you see that a bus got in a wreck yesterday morning? I wouldn’t let my kids go a friend’s house because you never know if their dad (or whomever) is a child molester. I would never board a plane again because there could be a bomb. Our country- completely close borders. Allow zero international flights in or out.
We can’t live either of these ways. We also can’t approach the refugee crisis this way. We must have compassion and we must help. But we must do so with an appropriate caution. God gave us the ability to discern. We cannot turn a blind-eye to common sense in the name of compassion.
So what does this mean? How should this look? I’ll be honest and say I don’t know. I have my ideas. I’m not exactly sure coming to America is THE answer. If they do pass a rigorous vetting and screening process and are allowed to come here- then what? Where do they go? Who teaches them English? Who feeds them? Who is to say that these Refugees want to come here, to an entirely new culture, nothing like their home? Obviously they want peace and freedom, something they risked their lives to obtain. But other than that, their entire way of life will be turned upside down coming here. Nothing is familiar. Maybe they want that, maybe they don’t. Kevin DeYoung writes for The Gospel Coalition. In his article from Tuesday he says “It is not unreasonable or unfeeling to think that in some cases that supplying refugee camps with humanitarian aid or protecting safe havens elsewhere could be a responsible approach that avoids the risk of immediate resettlement in the United States.” He also admits he doesn’t know THE answer. But I’m thankful for his compassion balanced by discernment. I like where his thinking is going. Refugees coming to America is not the only way we can help them. We can send humanitarian aid workers much like Samaritan’s Purse, and boxes of donations to help them in safe camps overseas. Jay Sekulow wrote an article for Fox News and states “The U.S. must continue to be a shining city on the hill and a beacon of freedom for the entire world. But we must not confuse compassion with taking all precautions necessary to protect our homeland.” It is an article well worth your time to read and consider.
Again. I don’t know the answers. But I don’t believe it’s as simple as fear versus compassion. Just because you have one, doesn’t mean you are nil of the other. They can co-exist. They authenticity of your faith and level of your compassion shouldn’t be gauged by your desire to welcome all the refugees, nor by cautiously suggesting another solution that doesn’t include entrance to America. You aren’t a “better” or more faithful Christian if you are pro-refugees in America. And you aren’t less-like Jesus or less compassionate if you would rather be safe than sorry.
Bottom line- I hope you will consider this and be gracious with one another as you seek to understand one another’s points of views.
I have to say, though- at least no one is talking about red cups anymore.