Quick Thoughts on Refugees

As hard as it is, I am trying to look at the current refugee crisis carefully, thoughfully, morally and ethically.  As I think about this, I have to realize there are so many unknowns behind the scenes that make it impossible for me, with all certainty, to take a “right” position.  I find I have to remind myself to approach this very humbly.  

On the one hand, it is true that as a Christian, I am called to care for the poor.  I believe that something must be done for the refugees.  I’m not sure what that something is, because, at the same time, it seems incredibly unwise to open the door for what could allow terrorists to attempt a “trojan horse” operation as it has been reported that at least one did in Paris, and kill more.  God calls us to be compassionate, but He also calls us to be wise.

It is hard for me to outright support an influx of refugees, whatever their religious orientation, if it cannot be guaranteed that the people who are already here will not be safe.  We have a responsibility for them, too.  To be perfectly candid, there is no way I would welcome someone who looked potentially dangerous into my house with my family present, yet that is what we are doing if we are not careful and get this right.  At this point, I don’t have that confidence.  

So, what do we do?  Honestly, this is a tough one for me.  I am not at all comfortable with the extremes I’m reading about on Facebook.  I’m not comfortable hearing Christians speaking coldly about those who are running for their lives, thinking only about ourselves, and speaking poorly about the refugees, in general.  It doesn’t sound like Jesus talking.  On the other hand, I’m not comfortable with people saying that we are not acting like Jesus or aren’t being Christian unless we blindly welcome in whoever says they are a part of those legitimately escaping persecution.  I think it’s a bit more complex than that.  

Personally,  before I make a statement about how we need to take in and care for refugees, I need to answer the question, “What am I, personally, willing to do to help these refugees?”  It’s easy to take a position if I’m not directly affected; if it’s going to cost me nothing but a few more tax dollars.  So, am I willing and ready to personally get my hands dirty and provide for refugees?  If not and yet I say that it is un-Christlike not to take them in, I have to question if I, myself, am actually being Christlike.

It’s so easy to post a picture, share someone else’s profound-sounding post, or like comments made who share my position.  It’s harder to step back, think soberly and honestly about what really is Christ’s position; to consider Christ’s call…I’m talking about the one that says that, like the apostles sent out among wolves, we are to be both wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).  I’m not sure how much of either of those are being put on display at this point.

So, maybe we can ease up on the rhetoric, the chest-bumping, the guilt trips and the finger-wagging and spend a little more time sincerely praying for the mind of Christ and asking how we, as Christ-followers, can be part of the solution and live, first, as citizens of Heaven rather than citizens of the world.  

I’m not there yet.  I don’t have an answer.  In this very emotionally charged time, mine are all over the place and I vascillate between the different options with almost every news report of victims being killed in Paris and Beirut or displaced families running from ISIS.  I don’t see an easy answer.  That shows me that I’ve yet to find the mind of Christ here.  So, until I do, I will be quiet.

God, have mercy. 

Please Help A Chattanooga Ironman

While serving on the Hamilton County Grand Jury throughout the Summer, I had the privilege of hearing from a large number of our law enforcement officials regarding what they have to deal with on a daily basis as they are charged with protecting and serving our community.  I walked into that jury room for the very first time with great respect for our police officers.  I walked out for the last time with that respect and admiration having grown exponentially.

There was one officer who stood out in particular to me because, after completing his testimony to us, he mentioned that he was training for the Chattanooga Ironman competition this year on September 27.  What was really remarkable about Hamilton County Deputy Robert Starnes was that he told us he had previously weighed in at 425lbs!  Now, he’s getting ready to run the Ironman, a race I can’t imagine even considering.

EmilysCureIn 2008, Deputy Starnes lost his daughter to a brain aneurysm.  Shortly before her death, she expressed her concern about his health and asked him to begin taking better care of himself.  Soon after her passing, he began his journey to keep the promise he had made to her that he would lose weight and get healthy and now, seven years and a few hundred pounds later, Deputy Starnes is going, as he puts it, “from fat man to iron man,” raise money to fight childhood cancer, to highlight organ donations, and to honor fallen law enforcement officials.

A week or so ago, I bumped into Deputy Starnes at a local coffee shop and introduced myself formally to him.  I had the chance to chat with him a bit more in-depth about this monumental feat he is about to take on in just a couple of weeks.  I was impressed by his determination to fulfill his promise to his daughter, who he clearly loved deeply and by his obvious commitment to successfully complete this leg of his journey and finish the entire iron man course.  Though almost embarrassed to ask for financial support, Officer Starnes resolves to do so anyway because he makes clear that it’s not about him, “it’s for the kids.”

I hope you will consider supporting Deputy Starnes in his quest for “iron”.  Click the “Emily’s Power” icon to the right and you will be taken to his support page where you can help take him over his goal of $3000.

Thank you to Deputy Starnes and all the Law Enforcement Officers who lay it on the line every day.  We appreciate you!

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