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Why Evangelicals Should Support Immigrants and Refugees

Sep 17 2017

I got a call from a Pastor we know who was confirming a show we would be doing in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. The show (which was yesterday) was at the town's Family Fun Day. Debbie told me what a great opportunity this was; in the past the town was at best aloof to the religious community when it came to town events. Now, she told me, the Mayor is an immigrant from an African country, and he went out of his way to invite the various religious groups in town to take part. This confirmed in me something I've been reading about for quite some time. The state of Christianity in America is much much better due to our current immigrants and refugees.

1. These new arrivals to our shores are our best hope for revival in the US

In his book The Lamb's Agenda, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez makes the point that the current immigration trend in America is from Africa and Latin America, perhaps the two most Christian regions of the world. It has been said that Africa is the center of Protestantism in the world today, and Latin America in the center of Catholicism. This means new Americans are much more 'religious' than those whose families have been here for generations. Tim Keller, Pastor of one of New York City's largest churches- Redeemer Presbyterian - says this very thing is bringing revival to places thata few years ago were considered post-Christian. London, and England in general, is experiencing revival, primarily in black congregations. (See article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10873405/Church-attendance-has-been-boosted-by-immigrants-says-study.html ). Pastor Keller testifies the same is happening in New York City. Many new Americans are bringing religion, most often Christianity, with them when they come here.

2. The great commission has become so much easier:

Just prior to his ascension, Jesus told his Disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of ALL nations. This has been, to say the least, a monumental task that has kept the church busy for two millennia. With a new wave of immigration and refugee-ism coming from Africa and the Middle East, this assignment has just become a lot easier for the American and Canadian churches. When 25% of the nations on earth forbid or strongly control church activity, going to these unreached
people groups is expensive and dangerous. Along with the cost in monetary terms, this type of mission work carries the additional costs of leaving family, culture, etc. behind.

However, with this new wave of Somalis, Sudanese, Syrians and other Middle Easterners coming to us, this same mission field could now be the family next door. Even living in very Caucasian western Maine, in less than a hour, we can be in Lewiston, the most Islamic city ( per capita) in the United States.

Furthermore, those who are here as refugees usually desire to return to their home some day. If they encounter Christ through believers while here, they will be so much better equipped to bring the Gospel to their homeland than Western missionaries are. This is the case of Ouey Kes. Ouey has spoken in our church a few times over the years. Born in Cambodia, he came to the US during Pol Pot's reign of terror. Here he became a Christian, and is currently a missionary to the same homeland he fled years ago.

3. But what about national security?

It is not my intention to say America should just open its borders with no control over who comes and goes. If you watched last year's Presidential debates, you will remember that every candidate, from the conservative Ted Cruz to the very liberal Bernie Sanders, acknowledged the need for some control as to who enters and how. But, as California Pastor David DeLeon wrote, "When I stand at the church to receive people, we don't ask them what their legal status is for we are concerned with their heart and not their card... we are not officers of the government." Rev. Rodriguez put it this way: "Let Uncle Sam enforce immigration laws while we embrace a church that reaches the lost for Christ."

When I've shared this view with fellow believers, I am often met with something like, "But this is a way for terrorists to sneak in. Don't you want your kids to live safely?" The answer is, of course I want my kids to live long, safe and happy lives. However, I all the more want them to live lives that glorify God.

Ultimately, If we are to fulfill the Great Commission, it is much safer to do it here with these people from the unreached groups next door than it is to travel to their homelands. Yes, domestic terrorism is real, but it is worse in Syria than here. It is time for the church to let the government do what they think wise, but for us to obey Christ. This means welcoming immigrants and refugees into our churches, benefiting from their deep faith, and reaching our to them whenever we can.

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