Biblical Perspective


Thinking Biblically About The Immigration & Refugee Debate

Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches Resolution on Immigration

Recognizing that:

  1. All people are made in the Image of God
  2. Respect for the rule of law is essential in a civil society
  3. Secure borders are the right and need of every nation
  4. Israel was frequently reminded by God that she should show mercy to the immigrant because she, too, was once an oppressed and exploited people
  5. The prophets in Scripture demanded special compassion to the exploited and vulnerable, including the “alien in the land”
  6. Our nation is populated by people from a multitude of cultures and lands
  7. The presence of undocumented people in this country (and in our churches) is a fact and a complex issue not easily resolved

(1) We therefore call on our churches to give prayer, thought, discussion and action toward addressing the problem of the undocumented immigrant in a God-honoring way.

(2) We recognize the divisive and controversial nature of this debate and we encourage dialogue in the churches that is respectful, open-minded and solution-focused.

(3) We further call on our churches to be the “reconciling presence of Christ” in the midst of a broken system that creates rancor, resentment, racism, selfishness, fear, exploitation, and disregard for law.

(4) We call on our society and elected leaders to rise above political posturing and rancor to work toward a solution on immigration that:

  1. Respects the God-given dignity of every person
  2. Rejects the nativism that ignores the love of God for all and our country’s history of immigration and openness to the foreigner, as captured in the words enshrined on the Statue of Liberty
  3. Protects the unity of the immediate family and seeks the best interests of native-born children of undocumented immigrants
  4. Respects the rule of law
  5. Holds employers accountable for ensuring the legal status of workers
  6. Creates secure national borders
  7. Ensures fairness to taxpayers
  8. Develops a generous and fair “guest worker” program
  9. Protects all immigrants from exploitation and violence
  10. Establishes a pathway toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents or citizens—a pathway that both achieves justice and loves mercy.

We recognize that meaningful solutions to this problem are not easily reached.  We also recognize the solutions must come through a determined will to reach them and cannot be ignored time after time, year after year.

Perspective from our friends in Ankara, Turkey

Just like you all, we have mixed feelings about the tragedy that occurred in France.  There is a lot of fear about having a terrorist possibly living close by and planning something terrible.  On the other side, we personally have been impacted by the stories of refugees of how they lost their homes as ISIS moved in and drove them out.  Many of these refugees are doctors, teachers, businessmen, moms and dads just like us and now they literally have nothing.  I do believe we need to be careful but instead of being filled with fear and hatred towards these refugees, I believe God is calling us to be filled with love and compassion. 

It has been a bit alarming watching some of the news coming from the States and some of the things we heard.  Instead I think we can look at this as a very unique opportunity that God is giving us.  It is very difficult to reach Muslims for Christ, especially as they live in their own culture.  Now God is bringing these Muslim people in the thousands were they can truly hear the message of Christ and find freedom. 

I am not saying we shouldn't be extremely careful and we should be afraid of the terrorist that embed themselves among the innocent but God has called all of us to a greater calling.  Pray with us as we ask God to do a mighty work among the refugees and that a day will come that when these refugees return home they will also bring the good news of Christ to their family and friends.

Commentary from Dr. Randall Smith

Our days are filled with complex issues. The Jesus of the church of the internet age often seems represented by opposite opinions from His own people – but all of them are quite sure they know what He is thinking based on selections from His Word – even though they don’t seem to agree. I notice that the opinions of Jesus’ people even seem often to be offensive to others among Jesus’ people!

Wait, I am not trying to be cynical, I want to make a point. My point isn’t to present the definitive “Jesus position” on things like immigration issues of our day – not at all. My point is that followers of Jesus often can’t distinguish between His thoughts and their own perspectives on policy – and we ALL tend to speak as though our perspective is the whole of Jesus’ mind. We need to study Scripture not only to answer questions of morality and reason, but to temper behavior – especially toward one another.

You may ask: "Shouldn’t we disagree when we see it differently?" Truly we should, but we need to keep something in mind: Our testimony is most often best seen in HOW we present our differences – not WHAT those differences are. That was true in the New Testament period on an issue – not immigration, but on meat offered to idols. THAT issue doesn’t get people roiled today – but it DID long ago. Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 8 was not so much on the answer to the problem as much as the behavior of God’s people toward one another.

There are many things about which God’s truth is clear – but not everything is that clear, so we all should be humble when we navigate murky water. Some followers will lack clarity because they lack information from the Scriptures - they don't know them well. Others will lack clarity because they have an emotional attachment to the problem, and see it through their feelings. All this should be expected as we work, live, laugh and love each other. Let's humbly admit that most of settle our minds and then believe our opinion is His opinion – so we all need to be careful. All of us. Those on one side must be as careful as those on the other side – so that in our behavior Christ is not divided, even if our opinions are not all the same.

Suggested Resources

An article by two staffers at the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. This does not take a side, but gives the facts and stats on the Syrian refugee immigration process.

McFarland USA
A movie from Disney starring Kevin Costner. It is about a community in CA and the experience of a white coach and his family in a predominantly Mexican community. A great family watch and discuss movie.

G92 began at Cedarville University in October of 2011.  It takes its name from the ninety-two references to the ger—the immigrant, in Hebrew—in the Old Testament.  Students, faculty, and administrators at Cedarville joined together with individuals from about twenty other colleges and universities to hear biblical teaching, to raise awareness about the realities of immigration, and to equip Christian college students across the country to learn from, minister to, and advocate with immigrant communities.

The Immigration Crisis by James K. Hoffmeier
@2009, Crossway Books.