The Refugee Issue, Part Five

refugee-1Luke 4:18, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised …

Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Luke 10:33-34, But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

1 John 3:16-18,  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we refugee-1ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17  But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

For those of us who know the Lord, passages like the ones above, and so many more that deal with caring for the poor, the orphan, the stranger (immigrant/refugee), and the marginalized people in a society, remind us of God’s desire for us to be a caring and sharing people. God’s desires for us to be a people who have compassion and are concerned with the needs of those who do not have it as well as we do for whatever the reason. And, at the same time, we understand that we have a holy obligation to do what we can to get the Gospel out to those who do not know Christ. And, as I have mentioned a few times recently in these posts, that would no doubt include the millions of refugees both here and abroad.  Yet, this is a complicated matter. Awhile back, I read these words:

refugee-2We have arrived at a moment of crisis. This crisis has existed for some time, truthfully, but it has met a confluence of other factors, and here we are. Like all crisis moments, this crisis calls for a reasoned response. Issues like immigration, radical Islamists, terrorism, and governance have all converged in Syria, Paris, and now the United States. In the middle of these issues stands the Church of Jesus. We understand that we need to share the gospel and serve those who are hurting, but how should that be done most effectively, and how can it be balanced with a commitment to national security and appropriate governance?

These issues, and more, have driven us to a place where we need to come together and come to some sense of conclusion about these issues and an appropriate, biblically ­faithful, Christian response.

The Bible teaches us to be of sound and sober mind. This is an opportunity to do exactly that. Good people can and do disagree on issues of policy, but we’ve passed far beyond issues of policy. Unfortunately, refugees are being treated like the new Ebola. Much like the Ebola panic, many are now terrified of refugees. Is there a response that is more in the way of Jesus?

As I mentioned in my first post on this subject, my primary concern with this issue is how we, as Christians, as the church are looking at the issue. I am just wondering if we are looking at this issue as Americans first, and Christians secondly.  To be honest, on occasion, I wonder if we are looking at the issue like a Christian at all.

In a recent post I wrote, These people are not terrorists, they are fleeing terror! These dear people refugee-2are seeking refuge from persecution, pain, poverty, and peril. And, of course, the vast majority of these people are also lost without Christ, and many of refugee-1them, because of their present situation, would be more open to the Gospel than ever before if Christians would sincerely seek to love them as we are commanded to do in the Holy Scriptures. Unfortunately, far too many of us are looking at this politically, rather than biblically. We are looking at these people with calloused, critical, and condemning hearts, rather than compassionate hearts.

I also asked three sobering questions in a recent post:

  1. WHAT IF IT WAS OUR WIFE WHO WAS A REFUGEE?
  2. WHAT IF IT WAS OUR CHILDREN WHO WERE FLEEING FOR SAFETY?
  3. WHAT IF THESE WERE OUR GRANDCHILDREN SEEKING REFUGE AND LONGING FOR SOMEONE TO CARE?

I want to take a few moments and share a few practical things we should and can do concerning this issue.

refugee-3Practical Things We Can Do?

*We can become better informed about the issue at hand! When it comes to matter such as this, for God’s people, ignorance is definitely not bliss. Of course, we must not let our favorite news outlet, whether it be FOXNews, CNN, or any other, be our only source of information. If we do, we get a biased slant at best!

*We can pray! Prayer moves the Hand that moves the world. While there are definitely other things that we can and should do, there is nothing more important than praying for the refugees and the whole refugee situation. A good thing to keep in mind: while prayer may not always change the circumstances, prayer will always change us.

*We can give! It has often been said, we can give without loving, but we can never love without giving. God has blessed us with so much, not so we can increase our standard of living, but so we can increase our standard of giving. Find an organization, a missionary abroad, or a church here in the States that is working with refugees and set aside some money to be sent to them on a regular basis to help with this needy cause!

*We can go! Whether for a short term missions trip or for a lifetime, I am sure that God would be refugeepleased, our lives would be changed, and the recipients of our loving service would be grateful!

WHEN IT COMES TO REACHING THESE PEOPLE WITH THE GOSPEL, THEY WILL NEVER BE MORE OPEN THAN THEY ARE NOW, IN THESE REFUGEE CAMPS!

*We can reach the refugees and the immigrants that are already here! I don’t know if you realize it or not, there are quite a few refugees and immigrants right here, right now. What are we doing to lovingly reach them for Christ. All over our country, you can find Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and communist atheists, who for one reason or another fled to America – the land of the free – looking for a better life. It would be a real blessing if we went out of our way to love them and introduce them  to the One who is the Life!

statue-of-liberty*We can start a ministry in our church for the refugees!  See the point above. God knows there are many churches that are within striking distance of where pockets of refugees are living right here in the United States. 

*We can sponsor a refugee family! Usually, for a refugee to be replanted in a new country they have to be sponsored by a family, a group of families, or church. Check into sponsoring a refugee family!

Above are just a few things we can do! It’s true, we can’t do everything, but we can do something. It’s also true, we probably can’t help every refugee, but possibly we can surely help some refugee.

James 2:14-18, What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Can we hear their cries for help?refugee

Just peeking at a serious problem!

The Refugee Issue, Part Four

43Luke 4:18, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised …

Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Luke 10:33-34, But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

chanthaThe picture above is Cambodian Baptist Church. Today, the church is known as Pacific Baptist Church. When my brother, Pastor Joe Esposito, started the church it was a mission church that reached out to, of all people, refugees from a communist nation. This picture and the picture below are two of those refugees who found their way to Cambodian Baptist Church as teenagers, trusted Christ, and who are today serving on the mission field. Chantha Chhim (pictured above as a three year-old child still in Cambodia) is serving in Singapore and his ministry reaches out to many other nations. Below is a picture of Sara Vong as a child, while he and his family were still living in a Refugee Camp in the country of Thailand before arriving in the States. Sara and his Cambodian wife, whose mother was a refugee from img_0458Cambodia also, are presently serving in the country of Cambodia!

We have a few other refugees from Southeast Asia or children of refugees from Southeast Asia who found their way to the old Cambodian Baptist Church, trusted Christ, grew in grace, and eventually surrendered to go back and serve their people!

Once, when I asked Pastor Joe, why he got involved with working with the refugees, his immediate reply was something along these lines, when I saw these people, I saw a people who had no man that cared for their soul.

I am wondering if we might not have the same problem today. No, not with refugees from Southeast Asia; today it’s refugees from the Middle east!

From those extremely humble beginnings almost 30 years ago, there are now two thriving churches in Southern California, another one in Northern California, a Bible College, a fairly large Christian school, three teams in Southeast Asia [six churches, 3 Bible Institutes, and one small Bible College], and another couple of missionaries sent out of our church who are also serving in Asia that are not part of one of our three teams. And, Lord willing there will soon be a fourth team sent to Asia. All of this was birthed in a small church, with a big heart, and an even bigger God!

You just have to wonder what God could do with the refugees of our day if God’s people would allow God to love these dear people through them. If we would give ourselves to Christ and the cause of Christ in the world and lovingly give ourselves and our stuff to reach them with the Gospel!

James 1:27, Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

1 John 3:16-19, Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

I will conclude this series of posts on the refugee issue in a few days by presenting a few practical things Christians can do to make a difference in this crisis!

“The needs around us in the world are too great, our gospel is too good, and our times are toorefugee-2 urgent for you and I to sit back and settle for endless conversations and constant quarrels over small things that don’t matter. We need to lift our eyes to what matters, namely, a world where God is orchestrating the movement of peoples so that they might know Him. And there are unprecedented opportunities to take the gospel to them!”

Just peeking into a very serious problem!

The Refugee Issue, Part Three

refugee-1Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Luke 10:33-34, But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

If we consider the verses above, without attempting to “justify ourselves,” [Luke 10:29], refugee-2and our fears, it is fairly clear to see that God expects us to operate in a spirit of love and compassion for those who are in need. And, that would surely include the millions of refugees who are seeking safety and security on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The Syrian refugee crisis is a humanitarian crisis on the scale of some of the world’s worst natural disasters of recent years. If we simply take the registered Syrian refugees, we are told that there are 4,800,000 of them and nearly 80 percent of these are women and children.

These people are not terrorists, they are fleeing terror! These dear people are seeking refuge from persecution, pain, poverty, and peril. WHAT IF IT WAS OUR WIFE? WHAT IF IT WAS OUR CHILDREN? WHAT IF IT WAS OUR GRANDCHILDREN?

And, of course, the vast majority of these people are also lost without Christ, and many of refugee-1them, because of their present situation, would be more open to the Gospel than ever before if Christians would sincerely seek to love them as we are commanded to do in the Holy Scriptures.

Unfortunately, far too many of us are looking at this politically, rather than biblically.We are looking at these people with calloused, critical, and condemning hearts, rather than compassionate hearts. As one author noted:

As the refugee crisis continues to unfold, I fear that most people, including those in our churches, are paying very little, if any, attention to it. Or if we are paying attention, we’re looking at this crisis through the lens of political punditry and partisan debates regarding whether or not we should allow a relatively small amount of refugees into our land. It is a sure sign of American self-centeredness that we have taken the suffering of millions of people and turned it into an issue that is all about us.

And in still another article we find these words:

Rather than seeing refugees as a political problem, Christians around the world ought to be eager to address the urgent physical and spiritual needs of refugees. Many of these people have never even heard the gospel, which means that some Christians will have an opportunity to reach the unreached right in their own backyard. Our response should not be driven by fear, but rather by faith. We should remember that it is only by God’s grace that we are not refugees.

refugee-3While refugees are often ignored or mistreated, God told his people in the Old Testament to be merciful toward sojourners. The same principle holds true today, as Christ told us to look at everyone as our neighbor. Christians should also reach out to refugees in obedience to the Great Commission. Christ sent us to make disciples of all nations, and that includes those who are forced from their homeland.

When our Lord said almost 2,000 years ago, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” [JN 4:35], you just have to wonder if He knew about the millions of refugees of our day. 🙂 As one preacher noted:

refugee-2The needs around us in the world are too great, our gospel is too good, and our times are too urgent for you and I to sit back and settle for endless conversations and constant quarrels over small things that don’t matter. We need to lift our eyes to what matters, namely, a world where God is orchestrating the movement of peoples so that they might know Him. And there are unprecedented opportunities to take the gospel to them!

Just taking a peek at a serious problem!!!

The Refugee Issue, Part Two

 refugee-1Luke 4:18,  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised …

John 20:21, Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38  This is the first and great commandment. 39  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

refugeeLuke 10:33-34,  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34  And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

James 1:27, Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

1 John 3:16-19, Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17  But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19  And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

As I mentioned in my last post on this topic, my primary concern with this issue is how we, as Christians, as the church are looking at it. I am just wondering if we are looking at this issue as Americans first, and Christians secondly.

I also mentioned, in the same post, that our government has the right and responsibility, in fact, the God-given right and responsibility, to protect the citizens of this country. And, as an American citizen, as a husband, a father, and a grandfather, I am grateful for any legitimate attempt of our government to do so.

poverty-5Yet, here’s the primary concern that I have, especially after reading so many posts and Tweets that, at times, come across as spiteful, and, in some cases, even hateful. And surely not loving!

ARE WE LOOKING AT THIS “HOT BUTTON” ISSUE THROUGH THE LENS OF SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLE, OR THE LENS OF SELF-PRESERVATION?

If we consider the verses above, without trying to “justify ourselves,” [Luke 10:29], and our fears, we will see that God expects us to operate in a spirit of love and compassion for those who are in need.

Just take a few minutes and prayerfully go over these passages. After doing so, ask God how these verse might relate to this matter that we refer to as the “refugee crisis.” And ask Him what we should do about it!

If one looks into their King James Bible, they will find over the word “stranger,” which would  refer to an immigrant, or a refugee, at least 129 times. And, we will find that God expects, in fact, demands that His people care for the “stranger!”  

Easier said than done!

For nearly 150 years now, the invitation and inscription found on the Statue of Liberty has reminded people around the world of who we were as a people and what ideals we held dear to as a people. For those who do not know what words are carved out on the base of the Statue of Liberty, here goes: 

statue-of-liberty“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Again, let me restate the obvious, our government has the right and the responsibility to protect us from all impending danger. And, as citizens of this country, we should be grateful for their attempts to do so.

BUT LET US NEVER FORGET, WE HAVE A MUCH HIGHER CALLING THAN AMERICAN CITIZENS. WE ARE CALLED TO BE CITIZENS OF ANOTHER KINGDOM AND TO LOVE AND CARE FOR THE NEEDY!  

Would not the refugees fall into this category of needy? Of course, they would! And, in our next post, we will look at a few things Christians can do in the midst of this often complicated issue.

WHEN WE LET SELF-PRESERVATION OVERRIDE SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLE AS FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST, WE ARE IN GRAVE DANGER OF LEAVING THE PATH OF TRUE BIBLICAL DISCIPLESHIP AND PORTRAYING A FALSE IMAGE OF OUR GOD TO A LOST AND DYING WORLD!

Matthew 25:35-36, 42-44,    For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. …42  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

poverty-2

This is not a matter of politics, but for us, the people of God, this is a matter of principle. What does the Bible say?

I guess I am just thinking out loud!!!

The Refugee Issue, Part One

refugee-1As I mentioned a few weeks ago, “The refugee crisis is one of those human tragedies for which there seems to be no real solutions, at least that is what some would have us to believe. Some options may be better than others, but there is nothing that can honestly be called a solution.

Nevertheless many countries, including the United States, could do a lot better. The immediate problems are the masses of desperate men, women, and children, fleeing from the wars and terrorism of the Middle East, who are flooding into Europe. And sadly, not all of them make it to the shores of Europe alive! … Anyone with a sense of decency and humanity would want to help those who have been through harrowing experiences and have arrived, exhausted and desperate, on the shores of Europe. The question is, ‘What can we do?’”

Of course, since I wrote those words a “firestorm” has arisen with the recent “temporary ban” on refugees from seven different countries in the 10/40 Window, and all but one (Somolia) from the Middle east. As one pastor noted:

Over the past few days, the news has been dominated by the question of how our country—and the church—should best care for refugees. We know that the church has an obligation, given by God, to care for the stranger with all of the passion and compassion with which we care for ourselves. Refugees in our country and in our neighborhoods deserve our unfettered love. We also know that one of the central roles of government is to protect its people from harm, acting with justice and wisdom. Within the church, there will be disagreement about how to balance these sometimes competing prerogatives—compassion for the stranger and security for our citizenry.

Another wrote,

This is indeed a complicated situation. On this matter, the government and the church seem to have different God-given responsibilities and it appears that the church must disagree with the government, even though the government might be doing the right thing.

And yet still another wrote:

Behind the practical question, “Should we accept these refugees?” there are two main priorities we always need to keep in mind: the first is a responsibility toward the homeless and vulnerable; the second is a responsibility to protect and care for one’s own community and nation. Some Christians emphasize the former and others emphasize the latter, but both are important. Much of the vitriol in the current conversation, unfortunately, comes from taking one of these legitimate concerns and giving it an illegitimate weight. We need both!

Now, first of all, before I go any further, let me say that I know that much of the public protesting taking place has more to do with people’s dislike, or shall we say “hatred” for President Donald Trump. If our new president sneezes in public it will more than likely lead to a new protest. 🙂

While I did not personally vote for President Trump, (no, I did not vote for Mrs. Clinton either), he’s our president, I pray for him, and to be honest with you, I have been impressed with much (not everything) that he’s done thus far. And for the most part, he’s definitely surrounded himself with some good men and women. And his recent nomination of Neil Gorusch as SCOTUS is a huge win for conservative values, and should be for years to come! 

Secondly, let me also say this before we get much further. The government has the right and the responsibility to do what they can to protect the citizens of our country. And, we all know that these countries, as well as a few others, that have not been named, are hotbeds for terrorist activities and have some within their borders who hate us with a deep-seated passion.

Thirdly, before we get into the refugee issue itself, it must be mentioned that many on both the so-called “Left” or so-called “Right” have issues with the way our president hurried this Executive Order through. And many of them feel, and I would tend to agree, that the way this was handled may actually make matters worse for us than better.

Regrettably, because of the foolishness of many on the so-called “Left,” since President Trump has been elected, this issue has become clouded. We must remember this is not a Conservative/Liberal issue. This is a Compassion/Love issue. This is not a Right/Left issue.  This is a human right’s issue!

refugee-2My primary concern with this issue is how we, as Christians, as the church are looking at it. I am just wondering if we are looking at this issue as Americans first, and Christians secondly. If so, I think we are off base. And in our next post we will consider this aspect of the issue!