Christians Should Embrace Welcoming Refugees

Evangelical Leaders' Petition to President Trump

Some friends at World Relief and prominent church leaders like Tim Keller, Bill Hybels, and Max Lucado (along with over 3000 other Christian leaders) have signed a petition to be presented to President Trump and Vice-President Pence. I like the tone of this petition.  Rather than being full of inflammatory speech, it quotes the words of scripture which show that welcoming refugees is what God expects of people.

The churches have spent millions, possibly billions, of dollars trying to take the “Good News” to the nations.  Now when God brings the nations to our doorstep, we try to stop them from coming. From a Kingdom perspective, it makes no sense. Perhaps people are driven more by fear than faith. In Acts 17 Paul tells the people of Athens that God made all men from one man and that God determined the times and the places that they would live.  He did this, according to Paul, so that men could find God.

I remember as a young missionary reading Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.  Missiologist, Ralph Winters wrote an article: “The Kingdom Strikes Back: The Ten Epochs of Redemptive History.” Winters recounted the “in-voluntary go” mechanism of God reaching out to all mankind.  When people and nations hoarded God’s blessing, God would intervene, sometimes allowing them to be overthrown so the good news would spread. Persecution came to the church in Jerusalem and the blessing spread throughout the Roman Empire. Winters writes, “While the Romans lost the western half of their empire, the Barbarian world, in a very dramatic sense, gained a Christian faith.” Charlemagne eventually consolidated Western Europe only to have it attacked by the Vikings. The Vikings, largely unevangelized from further north, carried off monks as slaves and women as wives. The result? The vikings learned of and received God’s blessing.  Winters notes that the Vikings would not have been attracted to attack the monasteries or churches “had those centers of piety not to a great extent succumbed to luxury.” This story repeats itself time and again, at least according to Ralph Winters.

So if God determines the times and places that people live, we should not have to ask why all of these “foreigners” are coming to our cities.  God is calling us to share His blessings with the world. He has already given the church in North America about 400 years to prepare for such a time as this.   We can either embrace what God is doing, or we can, in rebellion, hoard the blessings.   But if we stiff arm these refugees, these neighbors in need, if we choose to abandon our Christian principles, we very well may find ourselves fighting the very hand of God.

I wonder what God thinks when Presidents and God’s people plead, “God bless America”? I wonder if He thinks, “I already have. Now its your turn to bless others.”

Cities Concerned about Declining Populations

The Blessings of Foreign Born Friends

The “Rust Belt.” The phrase brings to mind abandoned buildings, crumbling infrastructures, demoralized and unemployed people. Those that remain complain about the declining quality of life, police protection and the schools their children attend. What is a city to do when industry and people abandon their properties?

The Wall Street Journal on May 19, 2016 shared census statistics of the declining populations in US cities. Mayors and city councils are concerned with these trends. My city of Louisville would have declined in population over the last ten years if not for foreign born people moving to our city. Cities

Countering Violent Extremism: Weapons are not Enough

Alliance for Peacebuilders
April 2016

cve1In this day of transnational actors, we must do the hard work of persuading hearts and minds.  The tools of rhetoric are needed to stamp out the ideologies of extremism.  There is not state to bomb.  The extremists are among us, having believed that violence is the answer.  What drives them?  How can we persuade them to think differently? Get a PDF booklet on the power of storytelling from the Alliance for Peacebuilders.

Looking Like Jesus:

Actions and Proof Texts

I recently took my Syrian imam friend to a Christian college to speak. He was a guest lecturer in “Cross Cultural Communications” classes, a “Theology of Missions” class and a “Church Planting” class. It was really interesting to hear how the imam approached these topics from an Islamic perspective.

Maslow, Trump and Muslims

Why are evangelicals supporting Trump?

Remember Maslow and his “hierarchy of needs”? The basic premise is that we will sacrifice everything else we hold dear if we do not have our basic foundational needs met. If a person is dying of thirst or cannot breathe, he will do anything, including risking his personal safety, to get air or water. As you move up his chart, Maslow claims that people are more concerned about their safety than their self-esteem or belonging to a group. His theory is that people will abandon their higher values if they feel like their safety is at risk or their group identity is being threatened.

Peace Catalyst Helps Host Reception

Kentucky State Representatives Welcome Internationals

Mehmet works with the American Turkish Friendship Association of Kentucky. We have done many projects together; Peace Feasts, Iftar Dinners, arranging firefighter appreciation dinners and serving together in a local shelter. More than just doing projects together, we are friends. We drink a lot of tea together and discuss how we can make the world a better place.

Have you ever wished you could travel to another country and learn about some foreign culture? Or maybe you have watched a travel show or flipped through a magazine and had questions you wished you could ask. Did you know that over 100 languages are represented in our local schools? Chances are, whatever culture sparked your questions is represented in our state. Sadly, many in the state don’t utilize this great learning and cultural resource. Some of us would like to change that.

Muslim Leaders Gather in Morocco to Discuss Religious Minorities

Religion News Service
January 21, 2016

 

Imam Magid is the Executive Imam of America's second largest mosque and received a medal earlier this year from the King of Morocco for his role in restoring historic Jewish cemeteries in Morocco. Photo courtesy of All Dulles Area Muslim Society

Imam Magid is the Executive Imam of America’s second largest mosque and received a medal earlier this year from the King of Morocco for his role in restoring historic Jewish cemeteries in Morocco. Photo courtesy of All Dulles Area Muslim Society

Imam Muhammad Magid and more than 300 religious and political leaders from Muslim-majority nations — including Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and Iran — are expected to attend the forum, billed as the first major effort of its kind in the Muslim world since the Charter of Medina, written in 622 C.E. as the first constitution of the Muslim world. An example of the charter’s principles is Article 17: “No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew.”

The Secret of Immigrant Genius

Why are Immigrants DIsproportionally More Creative?

Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein were all immigrants or refugees.  They either chose, or were forced, to cross cultures. Eric Weiner notes this phenomenon in a Wall Street Journal article, “The Secret of Immigrant Genius.”  So many immigrants excel that it has attracted the attention of social psychologists to ask “Why?”

South Sudan

Hope Deferred

I remember looking down on the village in South Sudan as we made our second approach to the dirt landing strip. The first fly-by was to chase the cows off the ru21205107313_9bf6b3512a_mnway. As we pulled up I saw anti-aircraft guns and several soldiers guarding the strip. At that time it was not yet South Sudan but functioned as an quasi-independent country. Fighting between the north and south had mostly stopped, but official recognition by the UN would only come later.

Islamophobia Hurts America

Religious Freedom and Islamophobia Conference in Philadelphia October 6-8, 2015

Douglas Johnston is known as the “Father of Faith Based Diplomacy. Opening the conference on Religious Freedom and Islamophobia, Johnston said, “The greatest asset we have to fight militant Islam is the American Muslim community. Unfortunately, we have alienated many in this community.” Johnston also said, “As the Muslim community is marginalized, it plays into the hands of extremists.”

Many in evangelical circles are concerned with the impact of overgeneralized anti-Islamic rhetoric and how that impacts common goals that we all share for religious freedom and security. The polarization between the Muslim communities and the Christian communities is doing great harm to our nation and to our Christian witness.