As the refugee debate really heated up in February, I was frequently accused of being unChristian as the President made his decision to temporarily halt the entrance of refugees from certain countries. As a Christian, who takes the Bible and her faith seriously, I was bothered and really had to examine my own heart to make sure there wasn’t selfishness or uncaring within. I love people, I pray for God to give me His heart for people, I want to see the world changed for the better. I am an activist. I am also a conservative, and though, many people think the two cannot go together, I hope my life would prove otherwise.
Yet, I also believe in being an activist and caring for those already within our own borders. I care about veterans receiving the care they need. Many of them suffer from serious medical and psychological illness or trauma and need support. I care about their families and how we treat the ones who have lost fathers and spouses and children. I care about our homeless, the homeless men and women and children, who wander the streets, sleep in cars or on park benches or in shelters. I care about orphaned children, children who have lost parents to crime, abuse or neglect and I care about the foster care system and whether it will be a safe and loving system for them. I care.
I also care about prostitutes, drug addicts, people who suffer various injustices and people who have suffered so much in their lives that they cannot live as productive and successful people without participating in crime or substance abuse. I want people to see their own value through Jesus’ eyes.
I care about the refugees. I care about the children who grow up in war torn environments and suffer from PTSD as children. I care about the mothers who fear for their own and their kids’ lives. I care about the men who are forced into fighting for causes they do not endorse. I care about people no matter their income, race, sexual orientation, gender, education level, nationality, or any other factor. I care because they’re human, and as human beings, they are all, WE are all created in God’s image and HE CARES!
I believe that people on both sides of this debate genuinely want to help others. Sure, there may be some selfish individuals on both sides as well, but let’s, for now, just deal with those good intentioned people who care for others.
While I care about the refugees, I also care about being wise and shrewd. I care about being good stewards of what God has provided for us. I care about helping people right. I care about empowering people and not reducing them to helpless victims of their circumstances while making myself out to be some kind of savior. And as a result of caring about doing it right, I think it is right to go slow. My old boss used to often say, “sometimes you have to go slow to go fast,” and this, I believe, is one such situation.
What if we allowed anyone in? What if we let them in under some pretense of it being the Christian thing to do and in this effort, we bring the very violence they are attempting to escape to our own land. What then for all those who wish to escape to safety within our borders? What if we are importing something different and that negates any chances we had at helping anyone?
Sure, I wish this wasn’t a question that needed to be asked, but it is! We need to ask who is coming. We need to ask where they are going when they get here. We need to ask what supports are in place and how many can the systems handle.
So let’s pause for a moment, lay down our arms and learn from a continent who has gone before us… Europe.
Europe has had a very open border, a wide-open-arms acceptance policy on refugees. Germany alone accepted 100,000 in one year. Sweden, Greece, Italy… all took hoards of refugees. The numbers are astonishing and could leave an American feeling ashamed of her country.
Europe saw an influx of 90,000 unattended minors. Children refugees showing up on the shores of Greece and Italy with no parent or guardian by their side. Many more children, mostly age 11 and under, came with an adult. They were processed and vetted and received with asylum status. Some went to stay with relatives who already lived in the countries in which they sought asylum. Others just hoped for a better future, a job, a place to live. But what of the children? Certainly, Europe is praised for welcoming so many children!
But contiune reading about what is happening in Europe and the story looks much more grim. While receiving accolades for welcoming so many refugees, these nations did not have the infrastructure necessary to support them. The people welcomed into the nations of Europe ultimately received little support. But the children, were truly the most at risk, vulnerable, and hurt by the lack of systems in place.
Europe has come forth with frightening reports of 10,000 missing children. Stories are shared of men who stole children to improve their chances of receiving asylum status, now living in Europe and having abandoned or sold the children because they have served their purpose. Unaccompanied children wandering the streets selling drugs or sex so they can buy food, or worse pay back the human transporters who profit (up to €60,000 per person) from carrying refugees to the shores of Europe. The children themselves say they thought they would get schooling, be taken care of, but instead wish they had never come.
The refugee crisis is a crisis like no other. It is one that must be dealt with, both in addressing the present needs of homing and caring for children as well as adults, but also addressing the cause which has created this crisis-war. Yes, war must be dealt with and it’s no easy feat. And of course, in the meantime, we must be a haven of hope and care for these victims, the refugees, but we must have the infrastructure in place, the proper vetting systems in place so we don’t end up with a massive human trafficking and criminal problem. We as a country are no better positioned than Europe to handle these masses of refugees, but we must be. We must take the time, prepare our infrastructure, help those most in need and make sure that children are not left vulnerable to criminal activity, including by the human transporters who brought the children here in the first place, and now demand payment or servitude, often as sex slaves.
We need to be ready. We cannot haphazardly welcome any number of people here just to abandon them and hope for the best. That is not good strategy, not good policy, truly unChristian.
Perhaps, as we slow down, we can try to understand each other’s perspectives, get on the same page, work together and have the systems in place to really serve those vulnerable individuals who land no our shores in need of help. That’s the Christian response.