The recent Paris attacks have made one thing abundantly clear: we live in a dangerous world. It means that we should cherish and hold our children close and be diligent about their safety and security. But in places like Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, it is far more difficult for parents to keep their children safe . . . that’s if their parents are even alive. In the debate over the refugee crisis, one thing is not up for debate—hundreds of thousands of people have not only been left homeless, but they face constant fear, uncertainty, and risk of death.
Across America today, people are choosing sides. Not just for the next presidential candidate, but we are choosing sides on an issue that lies closer to our hearts, our faith, and our sense of humanity.
Close the borders . . . Take a pause . . . Only let Christians in . . . Stringent vetting process . . . Help the children . . . Keeping them out is un-American . . . Send them all back to their home countries . . . Create safe zones . . .
While we struggle to choose a side, we are simply prolonging the very issues we are fighting for and about. And while we delay, the victims continue to be oppressed and innocent children continue to suffer while we continue a debate that we will never agree on.
The truth is over 95% of the people displaced by the ongoing war in Syria and the fight against ISIS are still living in the region. They are in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Syria. And most of them hope one day to return to their homes to live in peace.
World Help’s work has been on the ground in this region for over 10 years and that is where we will remain. This decision is not one made out of fear, but because it makes the most sense. This is where we have the opportunity to make the greatest impact.
World Help is providing food, clothing, housing, medical attention, a chance for children to return to school, and small business opportunities in Iraq and Jordan. These resources are helping to sustain their lives and give them hope until they can once again return home. No matter where you stand on these issues, this seems to be an opportunity that we could all agree on.
Unfortunately, all the media attention, talk, debate, and fear of letting a small number of refugees into our own country has lead to decreased attention and funding for the overwhelming number of people who are not even trying to get in.
Unless something changes . . . and changes quickly, years from now history will write this as a moment of failure for the American church. We will have to answer to our children and grandchildren why we stood paralyzed out of fear in the face of unspeakable violence and suffering.
Movies will be made and stories will be told about the heroes of our generation—the ones who helped despite great risk.
But my greatest fear is that my name will not be counted among those who made a difference.
The famous Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts.”
So, in the wake of controversy and fear, I will not stand idly by while people suffer. I will not be boxed in by the talking heads and labeled by one opinion. Instead, I will simply do something to help.
I believe that is what my faith requires of me—a faith that claims to love my neighbor. I don’t have to choose a side, but I also should not sit on the sidelines out of fear. Instead, I can embrace a posture of compassion and love.
Edmund Burke reminded us, “for evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.”
May we not let our fear of choosing sides rob us of all common sense. Our politics may divide us, but our compassion should unite us.
For more information on World Help’s work with refugees and displaced people in the Middle East and how you can help make a difference, click here.