International (MNN) — Syrian refugees are showing up in North America, whether they’re wanted or not.
Central American smugglers are reportedly helping Syrian refugees sneak across the southern U.S. border. After flying from the Middle East to countries like Brazil or Ecuador, they pay locals to smuggle them into the U.S.
“There are so many people leaving Syria now,” migration expert Shaina Aber tells The Washington Post. “It’s not surprising that some are making their way around the globe the best they know how.”
Heated debate surrounds Syrian refugees and their admittance into “safe haven” countries. In Europe, some countries are building fences to keep refugees out. State governors in the U.S. are taking similar measures, but on paper instead of on-the-ground.
This conversation isn’t limited to the political arena. In evangelical churches throughout the U.S., Christians are asking themselves, “What would Jesus do?”
Syrian refugees: a political or biblical topic?
The refugee issue is complex, and Christian thought-leaders on both sides have valid points.
“Let them in”
“You can’t look at what happened in Paris, you can’t look at what happened in Mali, you can’t look at what happened in Lebanon and NOT be moved with emotion,” observes Jeff Palmer with Baptist Global Response (BGR).
“My fear is that we will miss what God is doing in the midst of all of this.”
“We are in danger of a globalized indifference, of letting concern for our own safety completely blind us to the perils and pains facing our brothers and sisters, and to our obligation as Christians to help these people,” pens Gracy Olmstead, a contributor to The Week.
“Keep them out”
“The government should major on security; the church should major on compassion,” states Dr. Michael Brown, the president of FIRE School of Ministry.
“The government should do its very best to shut the doors on any potential terrorists, even if that means slowing down the process of absorbing refugees.”
Janie B. Cheaney, a columnist for WORLD Magazine, asks here, “Jesus embodied sacrificial love, and expects the same of His followers…but does Jesus expect my self-sacrifice to endanger others?”
Syrian refugees and you
Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, God’s Word gives clear direction: no matter where vulnerable people are located, whether “here” or “there,” we are called to respond to their needs in love.
“Let’s look at this through God’s eyes: we’re always praying for those unreached areas…. Right now, we have unparalleled access,” says Palmer. “It’s not ‘us going to them,’ it’s them coming to us.
“This is a great moment for the Church to stand up and say, ‘We want to take the stranger in’ and love them in the name of Christ.”