Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22 – When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
The United Church of Christ’s justice website has compiled all the verses in the Bible that refer to refugees and not one of them adds to the command to love the refugee and treat them as equals “if they meekly sit on a rock and shrivel away waiting for help and are kind to everyone. But if some of them do not behave, nevermind, they are no longer to concern you.”
From Israel to Jesus we are reminded that both were once refugees, and commanded to treat refugees with all care, fairness and generosity.
Psalm 137:1-6 – “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept…How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”
Psalm 146:9 – “The Lord watches over the strangers…”
Ecclesiastes 4:1 – “Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them.”
Isaiah 16:4 – Be a refuge to the outcasts of Moab.
Jeremiah 7:5-7 – “If you do not oppress the alien…then I will dwell with you in this place…”
Jeremiah 22:3-5 – Do no wrong or violence to the alien.
Ezekiel 47:21-22 – The aliens shall be to you as citizens, and shall also be allotted an inheritance.
Zechariah 7:8-10 – Do no oppress the alien.
Malachi 3:5 – The messenger will bear witness against those who thrust aside the alien.
Matthew 2:13-15 – Jesus and parents flee Herod’s search for the child.
I’ve seen some posts recently about the chaos the refugees are causing and the fights breaking out among them, particularly those from different countries. Some people seem to be saying, “see, they aren’t really refugees, they are causing trouble.”
Hurt people hurt people. Accept that as a fact. It’s true for refugees and it’s true for trafficking victims. These refugees have experienced violence, trauma and war. Know that you are helping broken survivors.
I see it all the time in my own job. People come up to me and tell me they want to work with trafficking victims and I know they ate thinking that these women will come to them, grateful to have escaped, thanking them, and that they will have to deal with the occasional nightmare from the trauma. Many of them go running when they realize they will be cussed at, lied to, stolen from, tied up and beaten, all by the victims they are trying to help.
That’s the reality. Yet I work with so many amazing individuals who continue to love, care for, and devote their lives to helping these victims.
So you must count the cost, but then you must act. You must remember who you are serving. If you are working because these are human beings made in the image of God, damaged by evil, and you are working to serve the Lover of Your Soul, you will make it a lot longer than if you are working for gratitude and a good feeling.
And to deal with a couple of other excuses…
If you say, but they aren’t in “my land,” you are wrong, they are. There are South American refugees fleeing violence directly and there are groups like World Relief that will settle around 35 refugee families here, near Atlanta, in the next month.
And if you say, but some illegal immigrants aren’t refugees, how does that affect your duty to help the refugee?
You can pray and find out where to get involved and how to get involved, but there really should not be a question about whether you should get involved.