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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Thoughts on the Refugee Crisis

Photos of a three-year-old dead boy, washed up on a Turkish shore prompt European action. The refugee crisis comes to the fore, because of the age of the child, because of this little one’s beauty. He was drowned along with his brother and mother, yet all the focus is on the smaller boy.

It is sad. It’s tragic beyond words.

And yet . . .

I think of the hundreds of refugees who’ve passed away in those same waters. Some were older, some were younger, some even were the same age as this little boy. Yet . . . it took photos of a dead toddler to shake people into action.

I have several perspectives I’d like to share with you.

First, God takes babies to heaven. As sad as this little boy’s death is, we have the wonderful assurance that God received him into heaven. (2 Samuel 12:23)

Second, this family and countless others fled scenes of destruction and death and the loss of basic utilities. Sadly, they believed the lies of people smugglers, paid exorbitant sums for passage, and found themselves on crowded dinghies with no security, no life vests, no assurance they’d reach their destination. Yet, they couldn’t turn around. They had no choice but to take a chance on that boat. It was either die back at home or die in the sea. They would take their chances. It’s awful to think that anyone would have to make this choice.

My third observation is that there’s a huge misconnect between the value of young lives and old lives. I am on the “old” side, since I’m over fifty, and I am alive and working and functioning. I am a person. Babies are people, children are people, and teens are people. Young adults are people, too. So are middle aged and older adults. Yet, I hear it all the time on the news media: forty people were killed; seven of those were children. It’s said to tug on the heartstrings, just as the media used the three-year-old’s dead body to stir people into action. All life matters! His mother’s life matters as much as he did. His brother’s life mattered. All of the other people who died from that same boat mattered.

Which brings me to my fourth thought: I believe it’s cruel and ethically wrong to show recognizable shots of dead bodies on the news. It’s one thing to have a far-away shot of several covered bodies after an explosion or accident or battle. It would be horrible, but it wouldn’t have the same effect as an individual close-up, which is recognizable by anyone who knew the deceased. Let’s respect the dignity of the victim and especially of the victim’s family. Can you imagine the sorrow of this little boy’s dad? Can you imagine seeing the photos of your two dead boys paraded time after time after time? It’s not fair and right.

I notice that Iceland welcomes refugees with open arms. Some European countries are opening their doors. Others are trying to sort out what they want to do. Will there be quotas? Will there be limits in different countries?

My heart goes out to the refugees. My heart is broken for those families who have lost so many in the seas, trying to escape. I want them to be helped. I want them to find a new life as productive citizens, wherever they end up.

And, I am full of optimism. Some of these people come from home countries where Christianity is outlawed, where there’s no freedom of religion, and where they have never once heard the gospel. Now, they will have that opportunity. I hope and pray we’ll take that opportunity to try to evangelize those that God has allowed to join us where we live.

Just as all lives matter, all souls matter, too. Whatever one’s religious or ethnic background, Jesus loves people. Whatever one’s life situation, the answer to the soul’s need is Jesus. He died for men, women, and children. He died to pay the price for the sins of the whole world. The migrants’ condition is described in John 3:18, He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved.
(John 3:16-17)

Let’s show refugees we sincerely care. Let’s help meet their physical needs and share with them our Savior.

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