Jesus, the Humanitarian

I am Christian. In Sunday School, I learned that Jesus taught His followers to help the stranger. To be kind to foreigners. To help widows and children. He calls for His followers to be humanitarians. To me, this means to welcome them into our country, our cities, and towns. To make them feel at home. To help them get work and homes. To help them get their children into school. The Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want others to treat you.

I have been a foreigner in a strange place. I moved from my home in Tucson to a new home in Spokane when I was seventeen. It was a terrifying experience although the people in my new home spoke my language and looked like me. I knew no one. Being shy and fearful of the unknown, I was without friends for several months. It took a while for me to even venture out to church. I can only imagine what it must be like to speak a different language, to dress different, to worship different from all those in your new home.

I feel great compassion for those who have left home and family behind to flee to safety. These are not easy to make decisions. One must be under terrible stress and threat of harm to leave everything familiar. To flee to another, unknown land. To embark on a dangerous trip with children is even more terrifying. Yet for today’s refugees, to stay in their homeland is out of the question. I think of Aleppo. The nation of Syria.

Refugees are people running from terror, from war, from genocide. They are towing their young and their old, those who understand and those who cannot. They need refuge. We claim to be a Christian nation. Would Jesus turn them away? Isn’t that the measure of our Christianity? Are we doing what Jesus would do? As a Christian, I cannot turn them away.

I get that we are afraid of admitting strangers. They look different. They speak a different language. Their religion is different than ours. But didn’t Jesus welcome the gentiles? He who was a Jew came to save all from the consequences of their separation from God. He did not insist that all become Jews before receiving help. Neither should we insist that others become Christians to receive help. Our calling is to help the downtrodden. To bind up the wounded. To make a place for the poor. To live such a life that others are drawn to Jesus. That’s what I believe.

We are a nation of refugees – many religions, many races, many ethnicities. That is the unique beauty of the United States. We are a multitude of peoples woven into a single beautiful tapestry.  Admitting people who are different from us will not diminish our beauty. It will enhance our beauty just as every strand of a tapestry enhances the others.

I believe what the Statue of Liberty proclaims:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The United States is the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free. She stands as a beacon of hope to those who are under the thumb of tyranny. Let us respond with human kindness and mercy to those who come to us. Let us be humanitarians.

 

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