A lot is being said about the current refugee crisis in Europe. While the discussion is going on, with good points all around, there are some realities to face. If we believe the Gospel is the power of God to save, we should expect its light to shine no matter what is going on.
According to recent talks at the European Council (where the leaders of the European Union’s member countries meet to define the EU’s overall political direction and priorities), Portugal is to open its borders to 1500 refugees, mostly from Syria. It is very likely, however, that the number will grow rapidly to accommodate more than 3000. (Germany expects 800 000 before the end of the year).
Last week, the president of the largest Catholic charity in Portugal suggested that the banks would donate the houses that have been foreclosed in recent years, to house the refugees that are coming. The outcry was fast to come and expected. If there are Portuguese people losing their homes, due to poverty and the economic crisis, why are they not being helped to be able to keep their homes?
Others are concerned about terrorism and the threats that ISIS has made, in a very public way, about their intentions to conquer the territory in Europe that used to be under Islamic rule. (Portugal is included in these plans, read more about it here.) There is the possibility that ISIS and other terror groups will take advantage of this situation to send trained fighters among the undocumented refugees.
I believe there is a place to discuss all these concerns in the necessary and ongoing conversation. But, in the midst of the discussion, there are some things that can’t be forgotten or denied:
- There are some false stories going around: That should not surprise us. I admit, sometimes it is a temptation. You want to prove a point, so you hold on to the first story that shows up on the internet that says what you want to believe. There was the picture of the ISIS warrior disguised as a refugee. Remember? Well, not only we was not a terrorist, but he had fought against ISIS. There was also the story about the weapons arriving at a refugee camp in Greece disguised as food. Those turned out to be old photos, unrelated to the refugee crisis. We can’t be so naive as to believe that there are no bad people among the refugees. The Gospel helps us with that one. We are all bad people in need of a perfect Savior. Do we believe that God can use the Gospel to save even the worst of sinners?
- They are already here: It’s not like we have a choice. Some of the arguments that we see making their rounds in social media sound like people discussing a future possibility. Well, we are not discussing wether the refugees should or should not come. They are already here! And there are more coming! That being said, as Christians, we should be asking, in what way can the Gospel message shine through me in this present situation? Some will be led to help with the immense physical needs, some will focus on the spiritual side, some will do a little bit of both.
- These are real needs: In any war there are always innocent people getting hurt. If I was living in Syria, I might be looking for a safe place for my family as well. This war has affected everyone. This week we heard that the coach of Syria’s number one soccer team was among the refugees. (He is the one seen here tripped by a Hungarian reporter while carrying his child). He made it safely to Spain and is going to coach a team in the Spanish city of Getafe. Of course there will be bad people among the ones coming (there are bad people everywhere), but these are real people, with real needs and a real need for the Gospel of peace.
In our everyday Christian life the question is not wether we are taking resources from “our” people to give to “theirs”. The question of wether this crisis is a huge “ISIS Trojan horse” should also have zero influence on how Christians respond to this reality in their day-to-day walk with the Lord.
The question for Christians in Europe these days, as it should be every day, is how will I let the Gospel message shine through me in this situation?
Question: What are some practical ideas we can implement so that the Gospel of Christ will shine through us during this refugee crisis? Leave us a comment here, or on Facebook. We always love to hear from you.