The Syrian Refugee Crisis, and a Challenge to Christians

With a great many Syrian refugees in desperate need of assistance, far too many Christians seems to be hiding behind excuses and fear. Where is their belief in an all-loving and all-powerful god? An atheist challenges Christians to put their money where their faith is.

This Christmas, I was involved in four different discussions with Christians about the Syrian refugee crisis, and what their response should be.  I heard a variety of excuses why they should not get involved, or should limit their involvement.  They included things such as:

  • I will support the Christian refugees, but don’t want Muslims
  • If I take them in, I don’t know how many I would get, or what problems it might cause
  • There are so many people in Canada who need my help, I’d prefer to focus on my fellow countrymen, rather than foreigners
  • Some of them might be terrorists
  • Their language and culture are so different, I won’t understand them, so won’t be able to help them

Now, let me point out that there are many atheist organizations and individuals who are getting involved to help the Syrian refugees (see here for one great example).  These are people who do not believe in an all-powerful, all-loving god.  Yet they’re getting involved to help out.

Yet where is your belief in this supposedly all-loving god?  You know, the one who taught about the Good Samaritan, and the need to demonstrate Christ’s love by helping those most in need?  And who can be more in need than people who have lost literally everything they own, who are penniless and homeless?  People who’ve had family and friends brutalized, tortured, murdered, and/or raped?  People who are now in a country where they have virtually no friends, where they don’t know the language, the culture, or anything at all?  People who are terrified, in shock, depressed, and hopeless?

Don’t you think Jesus would consider those people to be the ones in greatest need?

“But they’re Muslims!”  Yes, many of them are.  And you are Christians.  According to the teachings of your scriptures, you’re supposed to demonstrate love to everyone, not just those who look/think/act like you.  In fact, I was taught as a Christian that one of the defining characteristics of a Christian is the attribute of universal love.  Yet here we have ‘godless atheists’ helping the Syrian refugees, while Christians are sitting around making excuses.

Where is that “all-loving” god that you claim to believe in?  Or is that merely lip service, that falls away once you have to actually face reality?

“Okay, perhaps you have a point.  But some of them could be terrorists!”  First, the odds of that are quite low.  Priority is being given to children, mothers, elderly, families, etc.  In addition, perhaps showing them love rather than fear or distrust would go a long, long way to ensuring they can see that many of the terrible things they’ve been told about us are not true.

But most importantly — aren’t you supposed to believe in an all-powerful god?  Yet apparently, a bunch of homeless, helpless people are such a terrible threat to you that your own god is incapable of helping, protecting, or defending you.  Again, when the rubber hits the road, it appears that far too many Christians lack the conviction of their beliefs.  They’ll trumpet their “all-powerful god” when they’re talking about other people being punished for not believing in him…but not when it could actually affect them.

“Well, actually, I really want to help them, but I don’t have the means.”  Gee…and again, where is that supposed “all-powerful god” of yours?  He created the entire universe, he oversees the movement of every atom in that universe, he knows everything that ever has and ever will happen…yet he lacks the ability to help you find the means to show love and support to people who are truly in need?  The people that he told you to show love to?

“Hey, who are you to be attacking us like this, anyway?  You’re just an atheist, we don’t have to answer to you!”  You’re right.  You don’t have to answer to me.  You have to (at least according to what you believe) answer to your god, who explicitly commanded you to A) show love to those in greatest need, and B) have faith that he will protect and support you.  And if you are a Christian who is doing that, then kudos to you!

But if you are not, why do you even bother going to church, or paying lip service to this god you claim to believe in?  You most obviously don’t really believe it.  Heck, there are godless atheists out there making more of an effort to help these Syrians, while you’re sitting around effectively proclaiming the impotence of your beliefs.

To me, this post is a win-win.  Because I do believe that we have a deep, undeniable moral obligation to help as many of these people as we can.  Not because I’m a Christian (I’m not).  Not because I think some god told me to do so (I don’t).  Not because they share my beliefs, or culture, or race (they don’t).  But because, like me, they are humans; and they are in tremendous need.  And I believe that anyone/everyone who is in a position to help them should do everything they can to help them.

So if this post accomplishes the goal of goading more Christians into actually taking action, and helping these refugees, it’s a win for humanity, it’s a win for the refugees.  And there’s nothing that I would celebrate more, regardless of who is doing it — Christians, Muslims, atheists, or any one else.

And if this post fails, and various Christians continue to just make excuses…well…that just goes to demonstrate one of the problems among many self-proclaimed religious believers.  Because while a great many Christians are great at talking the talk, when it comes to real-life application that affects them in a real, meaningful manner…far too many of them demonstrate that they don’t really believe what they preach about their all-loving, all-powerful god.

The gauntlet is thrown.  I sincerely hope that there will be at least some Christians out there who will pick it up.

John Lombard
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John Lombard

I am Canadian, but have been living and working in China since 1993. I am experienced in business (started two successful companies), in education (have taught in some of China’s top universities), and in philanthropy (co-founded a non-profit organization to help one of China’s indigenous minority groups).

I am the founder of Wrest In Peace, arising from my passion to create a greater opportunity for people of different beliefs and backgrounds to better understand and communicate with each other.
John Lombard
Follow Me

About John Lombard

I am Canadian, but have been living and working in China since 1993. I am experienced in business (started two successful companies), in education (have taught in some of China’s top universities), and in philanthropy (co-founded a non-profit organization to help one of China’s indigenous minority groups).

I am the founder of Wrest In Peace, arising from my passion to create a greater opportunity for people of different beliefs and backgrounds to better understand and communicate with each other.

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One Response to The Syrian Refugee Crisis, and a Challenge to Christians

  1. Chaos says:

    There is a way to be true to one´s Christian beliefs (be they professed or genuine): That is, to help those Syrians still in the civil war zone, or those who have fled but did not travel all the way to Europe or North America, who instead stay in refugee camps in, Lebanon or Turkey or Northern Iraq.
    An NGO I´ve been volunteering for has in fact done exactly that, in order to reconcile their belief that it is good to help those in need (which I share) with their belief that we should not simply welcome anyone who comes here, in particular not Muslim-majority refugee waves (which I do not share unconditionally): To date, they have sent several hundred tons of aid, mostly clothes and food, to refugee camps near Dohuk in Northern Iraq.

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