Should Pastors Encourage lay-People to Take in Syrian Refugees?

Scanning the headlines yesterday, I saw several people mocking Dr. Carson, and mainly Christians for that matter for the Christian Values and adhering to a “Cherry-picked” Bible. One comment in particular that stood out to me was a reply to Carson’s stance on the Refugee Crisis.

One lady wrote in sarcasm, “Those Christian values are really shining through now…”

“Wow—the sentence speaks volumes”, I thought. I mean talk about an entire understanding of what Christianity should be and then mocking it to the nth degree.

Before I go any further, I need to tell you a story. Our story about taking in homeless “refugees,” so to speak. A story that started two years ago with a prayer to God to enlarge our territory so that God could bring whomever He wanted to our home for His Kingdom and His purposes.

We bought a modular home, on two acres of land out in the boonies (technically, called the “frontier”). We are talking hardly any cell phone reception, limited internet, located ten miles outside of a town of 44.

A mile off the highway on a dirt road, with only cows, wolves and wild horses as our terrorizing neighbors.

Sounds kinda nice right about now, doesn’t it? 🙂

Well, we thought so too. But we lived out there in the middle of no where in the Rocky Mountains—a place where God would do as He pleased because we invited Him to.

One day I got on my knees, after feeling so blessed to finally have our little dream home out west, I said, “Lord, you bring who you want here. This is your home. Amen.”

No later than a swift ten seconds from getting off my knees, does a homeless Native American show up in our drive way.

I had met her a few times before hand. By meeting, I mean I had only had a couple of casual conversations with her in passing by our old apartment, but that was the extent of our relationship. She told me she was a believer in Jesus and even kept the Feasts (Passover, Sukkot, etc).

She needed a place to stay for the winter and I knew what I had prayed, so I invited her to stay with us.

She was grateful and took our invitation. Within a couple weeks of her arranging her things, she came to winter with us.

At first, it was great! We had a blast. I really enjoyed talking with her, learning from her and things seem to be going really well.

Until, one day something odd happened. About a month after her living there, she bought a couple of bushes on clearance for us to plant a long our fence. I was really grateful. We were well into fall at this point but we planted them anyway.

My husband went out one Sunday to dig the holes to plant these bushes with her and it was like a whole other person out there.

She started cussing at my husband, saying things like “Why the F*&% are you digging the hole here. You need to dig it there.”

Taken aback at this sudden turn, we were dumbfounded. Within the coming week, a settlement check was being issues to the local Natives for some oil. A well-deserved settlement with a hefty balance. Enough to change anyone’s life around.

My husband came home and told me of the news. We were happy for them. Truly. I was a social worker for several years for people so poor they had dirt floors. Yes, even in the second millennium. I was genuinely happy for them and so was my husband.

But we got cornered again in our own home. We were accused of jealousy and told to “really search down deep because we were displaying ‘false humility.’”

To this day, after much self-reflection, I still have no idea what she was talking about.

But then, it got worse….

Now, we were racist because they were Natives receiving a large sum and well, white man has done nothing good to Natives.

WOAH! Wait a minute! Who just took in this homeless lady? Was it her fellow Native Americans? Was it a family of Asians or Mexicans?

Nope. It was the European/American white family with a heart to help.
The next few months after that were a blur. They were filled with horrid accusations, manipulation and finally some nasty threats on her part to get the law involved.

All because she was had some deep-seeded anger at white people and took it upon herself to give us a lesson on “not being racist.”

I am not going to get into the details of how bad it got. But, I can assure you, most people would have kicked her out in the cold at this point and not looked back.

We tolerated this until spring. By this point, no one was happy and we were not the same people coming out of winter as we were going into winter. I had to get some advice about the laws on this point, so that I could legally serve her an eviction notice.

She knew it was coming.

I knew it.

We did it and that was that. We helped with all we could to get her things in order. We forgave each other. In fact, I even cried when she left.

But it was time for her to go and almost time for us to go as well.

There was much more that happened after she left, many of which are indirectly talked about in my book, but that book is the culminations revelations that we learned from living this “refugee crisis” out.

We wound up with two more homeless people and wound up having to flee the state. Ironically, we were the ones that wound up homeless and becoming refugees.

I tell you that story to say this—There were several lessons, heart-shaping and character-forming lessons that came from that year. We learned the value of personal and familial safety first, not giving more than you have to give to people outside of your immediate family, the ones who need you the most. The ones God gave us FIRST to take care of. We learned not to be presumptuous when it comes to letting down your guard and did some real soul-searching as to why we did it.

But the biggest lesson we learned from it was that we will never put our children in danger like that again as long as we have ability to do so. A real enemy does exist, even if they “walk the walk and talk the talk” and our children were the first to suffer because of our failure to actually put God first. Just because we were doing what we thought God wanted us to do, doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do.

Through this somehow, the correct order in our home got slammed out of orbit. As it should be God first for us, the parents, then the spouse then our children, somehow it became survival first, refugees second and spouse and children last, all while praying to God that we wouldn’t get taken under, emotionally or financially or even physically. The amount of stress this situation produced was life-altering. Being afraid in your own home produces a fascinating phenomenon called, sanctuary trauma. Something many of our returning veterans face, unfortunately.

Either way, the enemy within your gates, even a secret well-meaning enemy will absolutely wreak havoc on the order and peace in your home. Everything will become about not offending the foreigner, appeasing the stranger within your midst and you will be forced to sacrifice your spouse and children just to make them happy and keep them from verbal threats.

But my duty is to my “seal of apostleship,” as Paul put it (I Cor. 9:2). My “seal” on earth are my spouse and my children. My earthly loyalties are to them first after my loyalties to God. That was the first huge conviction. We let others in whom we could not stop from taking over those primal loyalties. And honestly, when putting my all into my relationship with God, and my spouse and children, I don’t have room for much else.

And honestly, that’s OK with me. After the war we have just been through, I don’t care about a lot of things I used to care about.

That may be a sad reality to some… but God was never closer than He was during that time that we were fleeing for our lives from that situation.
My relationship with Him has evolved with both God and my husband to a whole other level, one where He revealed His heart to us like I have never experienced before and my husband and I have a camaraderie now that wasn’t there before.

When the Bible says that Yeshua is close to the broken and contrite, man, you better believe it. When you have nothing to lose, not even seemingly your own life . . .when you are waiting for death because it seems like the only logical escape, when all hope is gone and you yourself have reached the end of yourself and all things possible within yourself . . . the amount of room that left for God to come in with the tidal wave of His presence and revelations is almost maddening. I mean, I get the prophets now! They were a little actually really weird and now I like to get lost in them, because they get me and I get them.

But writing  was the only way to keep my sanity in the midst of the Almighty God.  Hence my book.

That whole scenario played out in 2014 for us and we escaped with our lives and marriage barely intact. But to come to a reality where now it seems our lives are being played out on news headlines and many churches and Christians are lobbying for more refugees….

I just don’t know if they fully understand what it means to house the enemy within their gates. I wish I could tell them my story and what we learned from it. I wish I could just say, “Hey! I lived this very scenario out….Stop! RUN! Turn back!”

But maybe they need this lesson like we needed it.

It will be a hard lesson, possibly the hardest lesson we will ever know. Blood will be shed, lives will be lost, but God will use it draw His people back to Him.

Do I think this refugee thing is wise? Nope. Not one bit.

Am I less of believer for thinking this way or as that lady said sarcastically, “Those Christian values are really shining through.”
Not at all. God let us live out that unknowing, prophetic scenario for a purpose.

Maybe to warn people, to any who will listen. Maybe it was just for ourselves and our family.

I don’t know yet.

But my “Christian” values have never been tried harder than they have been these last two years. Losing your home, possessions and family members really make you ask God some tough questions. Questions so daring, someone would think I was ready to walk out on the whole walking with my Messiah thing.

But He answered them and continues to answer my unending questions.I can say with certainty, and my friends and family can attest to this, that we got these answers from God himself.

So what would Jesus do? Well, I dare ask, you a different question.

Are we supposed to live by Jesus’ narrative or by the narrative Jesus lived by?

And with that I will leave you with this Psalm :

Psalm 64

Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
Preserve my life from dread of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers,
From the tumult of those who do iniquity,
3 Who have sharpened their tongue like a sword.
They aimed bitter speech as their arrow,
4 To shoot from concealment at the blameless;
Suddenly they shoot at him, and do not fear.
5 They hold fast to themselves an evil purpose;
They talk of laying snares secretly;
They say, “Who can see them?”
6 They devise injustices, saying,
“We are ready with a well-conceived plot”;
For the inward thought and the heart of a man are [h]deep.
7 But God will shoot at them with an arrow;
Suddenly they will be wounded.
8 So they will make him stumble;
Their own tongue is against them;
All who see them will shake the head.
9 Then all men will fear,
And they will declare the work of God,
And will consider what He has done.
10 The righteous man will be glad in the Lord and will take refuge in Him;
And all the upright in heart will glory.

 

(I have family in Europe and I can tell you that if you want to help these refugees, please look into supporting the Kurds and other organizations that are truly putting themselves in harms way to help the real refugees.  My family informed me that Christians are being denied passports, to leave the Middle East and women and children are sleeping on streets in Turkey. These are not the ones coming to America or who have entered Europe). If you would like more information on how to help, leave a comment below.

©Olivia Reid, 2015

Follow me on Twitter @reidpublishing1

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2 thoughts on “Should Pastors Encourage lay-People to Take in Syrian Refugees?

  1. I did post this on FB. (Since the option is there, you must not mind.) It is very moving. I think it gives great insight–or maybe, exemplifies– the mystifying and crazy racial protests going on at Yale and U. of Missouri. Seemingly these students cannot be satisfied in any rational way. Nothing they do is logical. Everything the administration does to try to please them is wrong. So sorry you had this terrible experience. Having in the past few years had unbelievable, terrible, inexplicable experiences that broke my heart and came close to killing me, I truly believe you.

    Liked by 1 person

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