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#65 We Opened Our Church to Muslim Refugees and Something Unexpected Happened!

What would you do if a group of Muslim refugees asked if they could live in your church building for a few months?

In this podcast I tell you what our church did and the surprising results. I also talk about some of the lies Western Christians are believing about Syrian refugees.

Let me warn you, many of you will disagree with what I’m about to say in this episode of Now Is the Time.

How do I know that?

Because I’ve seen your posts on Facebook!


 

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You can also listen on  iTunes or on Stitcher

Note: This is a follow-up from episode #62, What God Says About Refugees -9 Shocking Truths

 


Usually those posts on Facebook go something like this:

Call your State representative now, his # is xxx-xxx-xxxx tell him you don’t want Syrian refugees in our State!

If you are one of those who called and asked your government official to not accept refugees, I hope you’ll seriously rethink your position and maybe after reading this post and listening to the podcast you’ll pick up that phone again and tell your representative that you’d love to take in a few refugees!

The problem is that too many American Christians have bought into lies about Syrian refugees and have been caught up in a culture of fear and worry.

Lie #1: Syrian refugees are terrorists

Listen to some of the reports and the picture is refugees coming across the sea with bombs strapped under their life-vests. This is far from true!

Are there bad apples amidst the 4.2 millions Syrian refugees? Yes!

Are there terrorists? Probably!

But the reality is that 99.9% of Syrian refugees are not terrorists and will never commit a serious crime! Let’s not forget that these are people who have lost everything at the hands of a terrible dictator! They’re not looking to take over your country, they simple want a place to live free of bombs and fighting!

I’m thankful to Alan, one of my Facebook friends who reminded me,

“I don’t think Syrian refugees should be our biggest concern. Our greater concern should be speaking out against abortion in the USA, helping mom’s with unplanned pregnancies to help them keep their child, to remove pornography from our families and church fellowships, to love our spouse and not have adulterous minds, to read and obey God’s word, to be mindful of our children and be a sincere example of Christ, to share the Gospel…”

So maybe American Christians should be more concerned about the 3,500 murders of innocent unborn children that occurred today, than the possibility that there might be a terrorist or two hiding in among a group thousands of poor refugees who might someday possibly do some harm and then again maybe they won’t!

Let’s just say it like it is, American has some very well educated terrorists who have been legally terrorizing and murdering millions of unborn children for over 40 years!

Lie #2: Seventy percent of all Syrian refugees are men of military age.

I’ve been hearing this for awhile and I even believed it myself at first but recently I met several people who personally work with tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. “It’s not true” they said, “We actually see a lot of children and women.”

I looked up the data myself and it agrees with what these friends told me.

  • 52% of all Syrian refugees are children.
  • 25% are women 18+
  • 1% are men 60+
  • 22% are men of military age 18-59

Yes, only 22% not 70%!

Don’t believe me? Check out the data here.

Lie #3: Refugees are bad for our country

There seems to be a false perception that refugees are just bad for our country, they’re probably uneducated, ungrateful, and unwilling to work.

Once again this is far from the truth. Many of them are well educated and speak English fluently. One refugee aid worker told me with tears in his eyes,

“I’ve never seen a more grateful people, if you give a child a piece of candy he won’t take it from you unless he can find something to give you in return!”

Let’s also not forget that American was founded by refugees, they were called Pilgrims or Puritans. They fled religious persecution. Thankfully when they came to the New World there were people already living there who didn’t say “Don’t let the refugees in here!” Instead they were willing to help them survive even though they were strangers and had different beliefs.

This month is the month that we celebrate the survival of those refugees who laid such a solid foundation for the USA.

God often reminded the Israelites that they should love and care for strangers and foreigners because they too were once strangers in the land. (Deut 10:17-19)

Let’s not forget where we came from!

Why our church took in Muslim refugees

So let me get back to the story.

About 18 months ago a lot of refugees from Eastern Ukraine started pouring into Odessa. They left in a hurry, they had no place to go, they needed a roof over their heads and some help getting started with a new life in a new place.

Our church opened it’s doors to some refugees. We didn’t make it a requirement that they be Christian in order to receive help from us. Some of them were Christians, many weren’t. We simply felt that God was giving a great opportunity to show the love of Christ to those outside the Church and we could not pass that up.

Turns out that one family was Muslim, and we let them live in our church building anyway!

Was it a risk? Maybe.

Was it worth it? Certainly.

The Muslim family ended up living in our facility for about 6 months. Then late one night during our church leaders meeting I heard a knock on the door.

It was the Muslim family, they brought us a cake!

They said they found an apartment and they’d be moving out but they wanted to thank us for our hospitality.

Im a Muslim but I have never seen so much love and kindness before!”

The Muslim woman said. She went on,

“We’re going to be moving out of the church facility because we have found an apartment nearby. Even though we’re moving out we are not going to leave the church.”

That’s the moment I realized the power of showing Christ’s love through true hospitality! Yes, we could have played it safe and kept our doors shut, but that’s not a very effective way to reach the unbelieving world for Christ!

Let the Church be the first to say “Welcome to our country!”

The pain in my heart is this, many Christians and churches are turning down an unprecedented historic opportunity to share the love of Christ with the Muslim world!

I’m convinced that this mass migration of mainly Muslim people, fleeing war-torn countries is one of the greatest evangelistic openings in recent world history.

Think about it, how many Western Christians are willing and ready to go to Syria to openly share the Gospel? Do you know any?

I don’t!

So God is doing something amazing, he’s bringing a lost and desperate people to the doorstep of the Western Church!

Will the Church reject them because she is too comfortable living in her gated communities?

Will the Bride of Christ say, “I’m too busy send them somewhere else.” because she is so caught up in the vanity of her own image?

Will the Body of Christ say, “Not here!” because it is living in fear of man?

My prayer is that the Church will be the first one to say,

“We welcome these poor and needy souls, we will serve them and we will provide for their needs because we too were once foreigners and aliens”

Let’s not forget that we were all refugees without hope at one time.

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ,alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph 2:12-13)

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I am a pastor, missionary, and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ukraine since 2007. God blessed me with a wonderful wife and 5 amazing children! My greatest passion is to teach, encourage, and exhort others to turn to Jesus, who is Savior, Lord, and God!

  • J Esposito

    “Let’s not forget that these are people who have lost everything at the hands of a terrible dictator!” I would put most of the blame on us, the United States for the plight that they are in. Assad is a dictator, yes; but I would place the blame on us.

    Spot on with all the points. Thanks!

  • Joshua Hemphill

    I’m not against letting refugees that are actually refugees into the country, the problem is what I’ve seen happening in Sweden, the “refugees” that they let in are complaining that they don’t have HD TVs in their government housing and they don’t have full sized fridges, and just stupid stuff like that. They were actually protesting over it and then saying they’d rather be in Syria… Those are the kinds of people that I don’t want because we already have enough of those people that we’re dealing with…

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  • Nancy Suko

    Caleb, thanks for that challenge to common American thinking.

  • Paul Redding

    A good post,we already to many known training camps here,the damage is done. Well are the churches in the U.S. healthy enough to handle the load?. But I think churches should use this as a talking point to see where they’re at,could they pull it off,would it split their church with in fighting. Prayer should lead the ones to the church God wants them at,but this would be hard for many Americans. God is working powerfully in the muslim world,amazing testimonies of people seeing and hearing Christ and calling on Him.The powers that be have a plan for the muslims but maybe God does too. We need to be ready when the time comes if feel lead to help then do so,if not then don’t, like with you Caleb God sent them to you because He knew you all could and would share the Love of Christ with them,thank you for saving a family for Him. Much could be said looking at the geo games leaders are playing, but we need to focus on the Body of Christ and the many UN saved. I would highly recommend the book (God’s Smuggler) this could help us all better understand.
    This post I my self Iam still processing,so keep up the good work Caleb/Fam and church,Blessing.

  • What a great opportunity we have to serve others as Christ loved and served us. We cannot let fear dictate our actions and who we will allow “in”.
    Sharing the gospel isn’t about being comfortable.
    Thank you for this powerful post.

    Mercury One has a Nazarene fund and has already relocated over 100 refugees to a country willing to take them in.