Syrian Refugees – Adrift and in Desperate Need

Every Thursday morning we held a Bible Study in the church kitchen of a small rural church I served between 1988 and 1994. Stories were told and memories of earlier days shared. What surprised me most about the history of the area were stories of World War I. The church was located only a few miles from a large German community which had at first questioned the wisdom of going to war with Germany. That question drew the attention of state and federal authorities, making the whole area suspect. Mail was scrutinized for signs of treason. The parents and grandparents of my class members had lived under constant threat of making a wrong comment, angering a neighbor, or being perceived as less than supportive of the war. Fear of these German immigrants had a grip on the nation.

World War II brought additional scrutiny, but at a lesser scale. Another ethnic group was arousing more fear . . . Japanese Americans. We would build Internment Camps, for almost 120,000 Japanese. Of those 80,000 were second generation Americans. In 1980 an investigation into the camps revealed that racism, and not national security, had led to their creation. Prejudice had led our political leaders to wrongly assume these citizens were just not American enough to trust.

The furor over a decision to take in 10,000 of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, adrift and in desperate need, has challenged my understanding of the country I call home. I fear for the soul of our nation as the conversation about receiving Syrian immigrants has become more and more hostile. Politicians have in turn said, they would forcibly return Syrian refugees, or only allow Christians to enter our country. A mayor even suggested we create a new set of Internment Camps.

Jesus was once asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He responded by telling the story of a man from Jericho on his way to Damascus falling among thieves. (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus’s first listeners would have been aware of the dangers of traveling from Jericho to Damascus. One would not take the trip alone unless absolutely necessary. As the story unfolds, first a priest, then a teacher of the law saw the injured man, but decided to ignore him. Stopping to help the injured man would put anyone who did so at risk. This was a dangerous road. The threat of more robbers hidden behind the rocks could not be discounted. Then a Samaritan came along the path. He also would have been anxious about unseen bandits still in the area, but he, in seeing the injured man, went to him. This stranger of a different culture and religious tradition, bound up the man’s wounds and took him to an Inn where he continued to care for the man.

Jesus was not unaware of fear that would keep us from loving our neighbors. I think he told this story to remind us that there are times when we simply need to face our fear and do the right thing. Jesus cuts to the heart. He tells us what we need to hear and not what we want to hear. Jesus speaks truth to power . . . truth to callousness . . . truth to our prejudices and biases . . . truth to our fears. He cuts through our defenses, to the reality which lies behind. The Samaritan confronted his fear, then crossed cultural and religious obstacles to care for a wounded man.

In the end Jesus says, “It’s about love.” Love for God . . . Love for others. He reminds us that we are loved by God. Our best response to that love is to reach out in love to those who most need our care. As Jesus ended his story about the man we refer to as the Good Samaritan, he asked the one who had posed the original question, “Who then is the neighbor?” The response was immediate, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” Does Jesus ask any less from us?

Advertisements

About Shirley Hobson Duncanson

Rev. Shirley Duncanson is a United Methodist Pastor. She is a graduate of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, Metro State University in Minnesota and Cleveland High School, in Cleveland MN where she grew up on a small fishing resort. Retired in 2013, she has served churches in Owatonna, Fairfax, Morton, Winona, Homer, Mounds View and most recently Hillcrest United Methodist Church in Bloomington, all in Minnesota. Shirley currently is a volunteer pastor at a nearby church. She is the mother of seven and grandmother of seven. Shirley enjoys photography, theological discussions, political discourse, book studies and reading.
This entry was posted in Faith & Politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Syrian Refugees – Adrift and in Desperate Need

  1. SALVATION WITHOUT FORGIVENESS BY STEVE FINNELL

    Is it possible to be saved without having your sins forgiven? Was Saul saved by faith alone before his sins were forgiven?

    If Saul was saved on the road to Damascus, then he was saved without having his sins forgiven.

    Saul believed in Jesus on the road Damascus, but his sins were forgiven three days later in Damascus
    Act 9:1-19……9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank….

    Saul sins were forgiven in Damascus, three days later, not on the road to Damascus.
    Acts 22:1-16…..10 And I said, ‘What shall I do Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’…….16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins,calling on His name!

    Saul was not saved by faith only. Saul was saved by believing and being baptized in water.

    Jesus did not establish faith only salvation on the road to Damascus. Jesus confirmed what He already had said “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved”… (Mark 16:16)

    You cannot be saved unless your sins have been forgiven.

    In order to support the doctrine of faith only men have offered many reasons why the Scriptures cannot be trusted.
    REASONS.
    1. The Bible is not the inerrant word of God, it has many errors and contradictions.
    2. You have to be a Greek scholar to understand the Bible. If you understand the original Greek language, then you would know water baptism is not essential for forgiveness of sins.
    3. You need to use extra-Biblical writings to understand the plan of salvation.
    4. The Bible has been mistranslated, therefore men are saved by faith only and not the way it is presented in the Bible.

    If God is not smart enough to give men an accurate translation of His plan for salvation and Christian living, then why would anyone trust in Him for salvation or for anything else.

    God has given us His plan of salvation in many translations, in different languages. You do not have to know Greek.You do not have to have a Greek dictionary. You do have to be Greek. If men had to be able to read and understand original Greek to understand the Bible, then all Bibles would be in Greek.

    GOD IS INTELLIGENT ENOUGH TO GUIDE MEN TO GIVE A TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE IN THE LANGUAGE THAT YOU READ! JUST READ IT AND BELIEVE IT.

    Men are not saved by faith only and there is no verse of Scripture that states men are saved by faith only. Men are saved by faith, but not by faith only.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO READ MY BLOG>> steve-finnell.blogspot.com

    • Steve,
      We can spend a lot of time focusing on the theology of when God forgives or if God forgives. What I think God really wants for all of us, is to know that God is. That God loves us and wants a genuine relationship with us. I think God wants us to be really honest about who we are, how we feel and to know that if we don’t understand everything when we pray, it’s OK to tell God that. The Christian faith carries a bit of mystery with it. There is much of faith we will never understand. What I believe is important is that we are on this journey with God and daily, God reveals just a bit more of God’s self to us. Blessings. Shirley

Comments are closed.