The recent events of terrorism and subsequent discussions regarding refugees and our role as Americans has given me much to think about. I have heard from many people that we must do what we can to keep our families, our children safe. They must come first. Three experiences in my life have caused me to feel differently from many friends whose relationships I cherish. Perhaps reading these experiences may help someone else as we struggle to be Christ to the world.
1. When I was nine years old, my parents accepted the call to the mission field. We moved to India. After several months, the homeschooling materials we were expecting still had not arrived. There was no school nearby for me to attend. My parents made the very difficult decision to send me to live with another missionary family who lived in southern India so that I might go to school.
They did not use me as an excuse to return home because there was no school for me close to them. They followed Christ's leading. It was not easy. I honestly do not know if I would have had that strength when my daughter was nine. But it set a precedent in my young heart that I was not more important than the work of Christ. I knew my parents loved me, but they had to put Christ's calling first.
2. Many years ago, I heard a missionary speak on the radio. She shared a truth from her life that rocked my world. She had felt the call to go to the mission field. She struggled with that call. "Not now, Lord. Let me get my children in school first. Wait a little longer, Lord, until my children are grown. I don't want my children to have to be uprooted and have to struggle with all the difficulties of living in a foreign land." She said this pleading went on for several months. Finally, one evening, she heard, as clear as day, "If the children are the problem, I can remedy that. I have called you to go." After that, she immediately began to make plans to obey.
That story stuck with me. And I have always been very cautious in using my children as an excuse to do (or not do) something that I felt was a direction from the Lord.
3. I have entered that stage of life where my children are almost grown. When my daughter was fifteen, she wanted to go on her first mission trip. It would be a week long trip with our church to Belize. I had attended this trip before and was looking forward to sharing in this experience with her. As time drew near, it became apparent that we would not have the funds for both of us to go. I was angry with God. My rant went something like this: "Lord, you know how much I want this. You could provide a way if you wanted to. I'm not going to send my daughter to a foreign land by herself. I want to experience this with her, to see her joy as she begins to serve you in that way. Why won't you do something to make this happen for us?" Suddenly, I promise you, I felt as if the Lord sat down right beside me and said, "She is mine. She's not yours to keep. My plans for her are MY plans for her. You need to let go."
I still get emotional when I think of that day. Just like the missionary lady, I immediately took a step back from the situation. I let go. I trusted that whatever the Lord had in store for her, his plan was good. He would use her as he saw fit, and he would keep her in the palm of his hand. Does that mean she will always be safe? Not necessarily. But she will always be with Christ. And that is enough for me.
So, when I say that I do not feel it is right for us to deny refugees safe harbor, that everywhere I turn in the scriptures, I am instructed to love my enemy, to show compassion to all, to practice hospitality, to show Christ's love to those who do not know him, I also know that there are experiences in my life that have made my heart more susceptible to the truths of those commands. And so I am thankful for those situations, even though some were horrible during the experience. I also know that I could not follow any of those instructions without Christ in me.
I do not pretend to understand all the ramifications of allowing thousands of souls into our nation. But I don't have to. All I have to do is follow the instructions that are clear in the Bible, which I hold to be still true and still applicable today. Does that mean I will be safe? Does that mean I will be appreciated? Does that mean my efforts will help? I don't know. But I cannot base my choice on whether or not to follow Christ's teachings on the answer to any of those questions. I am commanded to trust and obey.