Christians, and Muslims and refugees! Oh my!


In the fall of 1986 I was a freshman in college. One afternoon as my roommate and I waited on friends for lunch in the commons area of Ohio Northern University, two Marines had a recruiting booth set up just outside the cafeteria in the commons. Two Arabic students walked in and I watched the Marines as their eyes followed every move these two students made. I jokingly said to my roommate, “If they set their book bags down, I’m running.” This again was in 1986, after 3 U.S. Embassy and a Marine’s barracks bombings, multiple plane highjackings and hostage situations. I guess my fear was coming through in my words.

Today as the Syrian refugee situation takes center stage I question whether we should allow them to come to America. After the attacks on Paris and finding some of the terrorists were refugees my answer was “NO!” yet I still question my own conclusion.

I started to question why most of the twenty-two Middle East Arab countries were saying no to these refugees. They speak the same language and follow the same religion, to me it would make sense to stay in the Middle East. Then I read an article from Breitbart about how there is fear of terrorists attacks if the Syrian refugees are allowed in. Now if their Muslim/Arabic brothers do not want them, why should we take them?

But there is conflict going on inside of me that to refuse them entry is not the “Christian” thing to do. The Bible commands us to take care of the widows and orphans. Yet, it also states that when Jesus sends us forth as sheep in the midst of wolves that we are to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). So how do we take care of the least of these as Jesus commands us in Matthew 25 and still protect ourselves? Where does our trust that God will take care of us come into play? Do we give money to organizations like Samaritan’s Purse to help or do we take care of our homeless here first, or do we let the refugees come?

I truly struggle for the answer. My heart says, “If it were not for a Bosnian refugee who out of hundreds of others, took time to listen, to answer questions, and provided help and friendship to me in the unfamiliar process of publishing a book, I would not have gotten my book published.” My friend Sanela Jurich, who came to America during the Bosnian War, was a seventeen-year-old refugee who found herself in a country that she did not speak the language. Now she is an accomplished author. She has written two historical fictions based on her experiences during the Bosnian War. You can learn more about Sanela and her story here.

We hear all the time about Islamic extremist attacks around the world but are they extremists, or is it the religion itself? I hear it is only a small percentage of Muslims that are extremists.

My logical side turns to my friend Bashir. He grew up Muslim and is now a Christian.  In talking with him about Islam, he told me, “There are peaceful Muslims, but there is no peaceful Islam.” When you watch a video that says these are moderate Muslims, it worries me.

So how do we care for the widows and orphans (James 1:27) as the Bible commands and protect our loved ones? How do we be a “good neighbor” (Luke 10:25-37) and not subject ourselves to possible dangers? What lives could be changed for good by letting the refugees come? And what lives could be lost by doing the same?  I’m still trying to figure it all out. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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