By Jonathan David Faulkner
One day, someone asked the pastor of the local Church; “Who is my neighbor?” The pastor sat back in his chair and thought for a second. Then told the following story. A man was walking along the road in New York City when he was jumped, mugged and left to die on the street. Before long a high ranking politician walked by and saw the man. “I cannot stop and help him, I am an important politician, I have too many meetings to attend, and a country to run.” So he goes on his way. A few minutes later a certain Fundamentalist walks by, seeing the man he scoffs and says “God must have just repaid him for his sins, I should not help him, lest I interfere with God’s judgment.” Finally, a Syrian Refugee walks by, seeing the man he helps him to his feet and takes him to the Hospital. He stays with him throughout his recovery and even gives whatever he can to help pay for and restore the man. He never asked for anything in return, he merely prayed for him and watched out for him. Who do you think was more of a neighbor to the man? “The one who showed him mercy” the church member replied. “Good, now shouldn’t you do the same?”
For those of you who have studied you will recognize this as the Parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37 though it has been contextualized for our modern world. A Politician, a Super-Religious Leader and a Syrian Refugee. In the original context the story would have been quite offensive, a Samaritan helping a Jew, what scandal since the Samaritans were considered half-breeds and even sub-human because they reminded Israel of their adulterous history. In today’s context the story serves to remind us that our neighbor is anyone who we might encounter. It also serves as an example to us to get down in the mess of the life of another and lift them up out of it so that they might glorify God. Most importantly, however, is the reminder to show mercy, always show mercy.
Step into today’s current crisis, millions of refugees, the UN Refugee Center had the number at 13 million with another 5.1 million in camps waiting for relocation as of mid-2014 (The number has most certainly gone up). This is undoubtedly a humanitarian crisis, as war continues to spread and those persecuted, whether it is for being Christian or some other religion, continue to be displaced from home and culture to escape the rise of ISIL and the growing threat of all-out war in those unstable countries. The numbers go up, the destruction gets worse, the situation goes from important to imperative meaning no one should ignore it, everyone should be willing to do their part.
Yet the response of the Conservative Evangelicals, a camp which contains GHFT, has been one of fear and crying out against such a thing. “We do not want refugees here” says one pastor, “They are going to just bring Jihad here.” Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas said in a statement “I have therefore directed all state agencies, departments, boards or commissions not to participate or assist in the relocation of Syrian refugees to Kansas.” He goes onto say that is it “Unfortunate” that this has to be the case but the “Safety of Kansas” is the priority.
Meanwhile, Conservative Evangelicals flood to Donald Trump Rallies, with men like Jerry Falwell Jr and many other Conservative Evangelical leaders coming out in support of him, including former GOP Vice President Candidate and former Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin. Franklin Graham even endorsed Trump’s plan to “Kick Muslims out.”
At GHFT we are baffled by this and deeply saddened. Why? Because, in looking out over the vast scope of history we have seen the damage that the kind of rhetoric being used in America today is similar to that used by others who have committed mass atrocities such as Hitler and Stalin. The demonization of a people, namely refuges, a lot of which are Muslim, is exactly what Hitler did to drive his genocide and final solution. The Jewish Journal, a publication here on the North Shore, recently released an article expressing concern for the reintroduction of Mien Kampf into Germany, with its 300 pages of commentary, asking questions concerning the possibility of something similar happening again, only this time at the hands of Syria. Americans should be concerned of something similar happening if the Hate-Speech and continue Fear-Mongering encouraged by Trump and his supporters is allowed to continue, only the target would be people of Syrian origin, and I do not see it stopping at Muslims, but Christians and any refugee who comes from the Middle East.
We have done it once, the Japanese Internment camps that were scattered all over the U.S, blaming all Japanese for the attack on Pearl Harbor, most of whom had no ties to Japan or had cut ties with Japan. Christians then turned a blind eye to the morality of the situation, as they did with Slavery one-hundred years before (with the exception of the Quakers). Trading sound moral living and philosophy, along with the fair and merciful treatment of all for comfort and safety. We have traded true sanctity of human life, the sanctity of all life, for our own security. Are we so conceited that we think we have the ability to slander others for the sake of our own seared conscious? Have we become so fearful that we have forgotten what it means to be truly Evangelical? So afraid that we would openly hate both our brothers and sisters from Syria and those whom they are trying to reach out to? What is wrong with us?
GHFT does agree that we should care for those here in America, a country should take care of its citizen’s, but they should also take care of those who are displaced and do so in such a way that they are built up and encouraged. If there is any organization better equipped to do that it is the church, not the federal government, the Church. With all its members and with all of its parts and programs. If we are to be a righteous and a Just people, then we cannot ignore the refugees or demand that they be denied entrance because they might make us “Unsafe.” Is our safety and comfort so important to us that we would deny aid and even call for the extermination of an entire people group?
Hey, you might die, you might have to be uncomfortable, you might have to give money, you may have to get down in the life of someone you disagree with and help them out. It might be asked of you to do such a thing, but did Jesus not do the same for you? And if He did, then should you not seek to, out of gratitude, seek to serve and love all those who come into your sphere of influence regardless of what you may think of them? At GHFT we assert that it is our responsibility to build up all people with the hope of reaching them for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Regardless of race, creed or religion at the time we meet them. We reject fear-mongering and hate-speech in the interest of being part in the great work of the spreading of the Gospel done through us by God. We recognize that our neighbor is all men and all women within the scope of the human race and we have resolved to treat others with that vision in mind. We invite you to do the same, we hope you would do the same.
I close with this: Last year in my Christian Ethics class here in the Seminary I was afforded the chance to learn Dr. David Gill’s thoughts on Christian Ethics and the Ten Commandments. I was struck by his application of the commandments. For example, “Though shalt not covet” is not merely a command not to covet your neighbor’s possession but is “A command for us to protect and help care for our neighbor’s possessions.” That we are responsible to love GOD and one of the ways we do that is by loving people. As I have pondered this in relation to the current Refugee Crisis I am struck by the fact that it is our responsibility to commit ourselves to aiding those fleeing from this war. Whether that is through boots on the ground, in the field and camps work or through constant prayer and intercession. We have an ethical responsibility, and it is our Christian responsibility to commit in whatever way we can to aiding in, and working to resolve this humanitarian crisis and it starts by accepting, in love, those coming, in spite of fear and possibly at the expense of our comfort and safety.
This is the only Christian Response, anything else falls short and ceases to be so.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8
God’s Heart for Those is responsible for the Content of this Article, sources not in print are linked in the article itself, The Jewish Journal is a Newspaper publication from the North Shore in Massachusetts.
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry