Fmr Iraqi Exile: Refugee Crisis Golden Opportunity for the Gospel
The terror attacks in Paris have raised debate and concerns about Syrian refugees entering the United States.
More than half of the nation's governors say they will refuse to accept any refugees from Syria and in a new Bloomberg Politics poll, 53 percent of American adults don't want them to resettle here.
But could this refugee crisis and the issue of immigration be golden opportunities for the American Church to share the gospel of Jesus Christ?
The United States once prided itself on welcoming people from foreign lands as seen in the words on the Statue of Liberty: "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!...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!"
Nearly 6 million immigrants were welcomed into the country from 1911 and 1920. Yet today only about 1 million permanent visas are granted each year and the debate over allowing immigrants and refugees into America has never been more heated.
**Jalil Dawood is executive director of World Refugees Care. As a former exile himself, Dawood says the global refugee crisis could be God causing American Christians to welcome people they onced prayed for in the 10/40 Window, people many, even believers, want to ignore because of fear. Click play to watch his insights.
Republicans in the House of Representatives easily voted to approve a bill Thursday that requires beefed up background checks for refugees coming from war-torn Syria and Iraqi. Forty-seven Democrats joined with Republicans to back the bill.
New House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged at least a temporary pause in the resettlement of Syrians, disputing claims that the small numbers making their way into the United States so far are being thoroughly investigated.
"Our nation has always been welcoming, but we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment where it's better to be safe than to be sorry," Ryan said. "So we think the prudent, the responsible thing, is to take a pause in this particular aspect of this refugee program in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population."
President Barack Obama is already promising to veto the bill.
Meanwhile, Christian relief agencies say it's important that the Church not let fear hinder sharing the Gospel with refugees.
"It's something that doesn't have to be polarized (as) either safe or compassionate," Stephen Bauman, president and CEO of World Relief, said. "I think our faith calls us to be compassionate. We can be safe as well as we reach out to those communities and welcome Syrian refugees."
In the 1990s, there was a lot of talk about the 10/40 Window, a large area of mostly un-evangelized people across the Middle East. That's exactly where many of these refugees are coming from.
So instead of sending missionaries to that region to reach the people there, some suggest that God is sending many of these unreached people groups to America to hear about the light and love of Jesus Christ.