Recently, the first plane of Syrian refugees arrived in Canada. It landed in Toronto at Pearson International Airport. More will be coming; some will land in Toronto and some in Montreal. In all, the Canadian Government has committed to taking in 25,000 in the coming months, most of whom will likely land in the GTA/Southern Ontario region and the greater Montreal area. As a result of this there is a national discussion happening around safety, security, racism, religious tolerance, and whether it’s “Canada’s job” to take in Syrian refugees.
I don’t really want to talk about any of that.
Frankly, it’s not my purview, and while they are important discussions to have, foreign policy really isn’t what this site is about. Instead I wanted to talk about how we, how Christians ought to respond to any Syrian refugee we may come into contact with if we get the opportunity. So here is my simple, two-step plan for interacting with refugees.
How to respond to Syrian refugees (if you are a Christian):
If they are Christians: These men and women have been through more than we can imagine. They need the fellowship of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Welcome them into your city, churches and homes. Provide for them, pray for and with them. Provide for their physical needs as well. Love them as we are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
If they are not Christians: These men and women have been through more than we can imagine. They need our friendship. They need to experience the love of Christ and the Gospel. Welcome them into your city, churches and homes. Provide for them, pray for and with them (if they allow you to). Provide for their physical needs as well. Love them as we are called to love our neighbours in Christ.
I know it might seem overly simplistic, but Christians need fellowship and non-Christians need friendship. Jesus said, and I love how the ESV renders it: “as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” So imagine for a moment that you are in this horrendous position. You must leave your home and all you own to go on a dangerous trip with only what you can carry. How would you want to be treated when you arrive at your destination? With compassion? Generosity? Love? Friendship? Respect? Empathy?
Yeah, me too. Let’s go and do that.