Just one week into his presidency, Donald Trump signed an executive order on immigration. Many of the president’s supporters saw this as a campaign promise fulfilled while those who have opposed his presidency viewed it as a problem needing to be fixed. Debates have ensued, covering immigration and the refugee crisis and recognizing the differences between the two. I have friends on both sides of the discussion and, to be honest, my desire is to understand both sides.
The purpose of this post, though, is to direct attention to my brothers and sisters in Christ and challenge them. My point is not to choose a side or to comment so much on policy because there are no easy answers. And, frankly, I realize my knowledge is limited on the subject. My intention here is to observe an underlying heart issue and a growing mindset on this topic among American Christians.
My concern for us as Christians is we have misplaced our source of rescue and security. Could it be we have sought shelter in the wrong refuge? We say we have placed our trust in the Lord. Yet, if we display little to no compassion toward foreigners, especially refugees, does this not reveal the idolatry of our hearts? As American Christians, do we view America as our refuge? Therefore, is this potentially one underlying reason why we are resistant to foreigners coming into our place of refuge? The problem with such a perspective is summed up well by IMB President David Platt when he said,
“Much of our response to the refugee crisis seems to come from a foundation of fear, not faith. Much of it seems to flow from a view of the world that is far more American than biblical, far more concerned with the preservation of our country than the accomplishment of the Great Commission.”
The testimony of Scripture is our refuge is to be found in God, something that is mentioned at least 45 times in the Psalms alone. Part of the biblical response, then, is found in Psalm 118:9, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.”
As Christians, if we look to America as our refuge, as our place of security, then our default priority will be protection. But when we look to God as our refuge, our spiritual priority will be to share the hope of the gospel with the hearts of refugees. After all, followers of Christ are called to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). As Christians, our deepest concern must not be self-preservation; it must be gospel proclamation. The call to discipleship is a call to go, and we most certainly still need international missions. Yet, consider the thought-provoking question from Global Frontier Missions:
“What if the influx of immigrants, refugees, and international students is a blessing, an opportunity orchestrated by God to fulfill the Great Commission?”
We have various people groups coming to America, providing the possibility of fulfilling the Great Commission to disciple other nations.
To be firm, the refuge in the refugee crisis is not America. This is the reality for both American Christians as well as for immigrants and refugees. The refuge in the refugee crisis is God. It is in God we are rescued by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are secure as we are in Christ.
For those who are in the shelter of God’s salvation, we ought to be the very people to welcome the opportunity to see those who are enemies of Christ be transformed into brothers and sisters of Christ. We may not have all the answers on how to deal with immigration or how to handle the refugee crisis, but we can examine our hearts and ask where we are seeking refuge during this time of the refugee crisis. As those who are the children of God, may our refuge be our saving God.
This post was written by EBG Lead Writer and Founder Theron St. John. His joy is serving God and His people, both in the church and the academy. He is the associate pastor of Blue Ridge Christian Union Church in Shelbyville, Indiana and an adjunct professor at Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis.