International (MNN) — Let’s do a little word association. I say “pro-life”, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Abortion? Babies? While those things have a lot to do with pro-life issues, there’s more to the pro-life narrative.
Tom Lothamer with Life Matters Worldwide says being pro-life has deep implications for how believers should reach out to and care for all lives at-risk. Today, we want to focus on what the pro-life narrative has to do with caring for refugees and immigrants in need within our communities.
“When you’re going to be involved in the issues of abortion or infanticide or reaching out to people who are, in a sense, orphaned — you know, these refugees — that takes action. That’s going to take my time, sometimes my money, and my concern and my love. That, to me, is what the sanctity of human life ethic is all about; where we say, whatever it takes, we’re going to extend ourselves, we’re going to look beyond ourselves and we’re going to help these people who have such a need.”
Many in the secular world see pro-life Christians as just being “anti-abortion”, throwing their hat into the fray of a single issue while ignoring the severity of other pressing issues as well. But there are several Christian organizations and ministries that hold to a pro-life narrative and express it in a variety of dynamic and impactful ways.
Sometimes it’s pregnancy care. Sometimes it’s feeding the homeless. Sometimes it’s providing housing to single mothers. Sometimes it’s loving on refugees in the name of Christ.
“I love what Bethany Christian Services does when they have their refugee program and they try to assimilate refugees into local communities. That’s really what the Gospel is about. It’s about taking those who are orphaned, those who are displaced, and saying, ‘We’re going to have a place for you. We’re going to assist you and help you and provide for you.’ Because why? Because these are image-bearers and they’re looking for help. When we do that, the Church, that says to that refugee we care about you and it [causes them to] say, ‘You know, the Gospel, the Christian faith must be real because look what these people are doing for me, and all at their cost.’”
But what about the fear that surrounds conversations about refugees and immigrants? Many come from different cultural backgrounds, hold to different religions, and even speak different languages.
Lothamer says it’s important to not over-generalize refugees and immigrants as a whole, but to see them as individual people with real stories. “You know, there are going to be some in our situation in the United States, some are going to come in who are not honest, or in fact, there might even be terrorists. I think we need to be careful about that, [and] we need to have proper securities in our nation. But a vast majority of these people are looking for help and a way to get into a situation where they can live a productive life and actually contribute to society.”
Start by finding something you have in common — your love for your children or your taste in a variety of foods, for example. Then springboard off of that to ask about their personal story, and be open to sharing yours as well, since it’s a great way to talk about your faith in Jesus Christ. Read more here about how to share your personal testimony in cross-cultural relationships.
The impact an engaged Church has can open tremendous doors for the Gospel.
“We might set up programs like English as a Second Language, for example, out of our church. We might provide even some counseling or even receive direction from Bethany Christian Services on how we can best help. So in other words, offering ourselves to be open for guidance from organizations that can put us in the fray, put us in action where we’re actually reaching out to these people. Then praying with them and for them, sharing the Gospel, because that’s ultimately the best thing we can do for them if they do not know the Lord.”
Lothamer adds, “The statement I would close with from the Scripture is Psalm 82:3-4. It says, ‘Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.’ That’s our job as the Church today, and I think any church that’s willing to do that will be extremely blessed by God…. We’ve got to get away from ourselves and the sense of what’s just best for us, and reach out and help those with tremendous need. In the process, we’ll be a stronger Church. We’ll be a blessed Church.”