Whether you agree with the closing of our borders to certain countries or not, if you are a follower of Jesus, you do agree that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.
There is no arguing that.
Reader: Sarah, first off, I'm not sure where you are going with this, but I don't really trust you. Also, you have never met my neighbor. She is such a B. She yells at my dogs. She never waves. She leaves trash all over her yard. I could definitely make the argument that Jesus was not referring to her...
Well Reader, I might have to disagree with you. I know that loving your neighbor is not easy at all. In fact, it can be super intimidating and awkward, but I want to challenge you even further than loving just your next door neighbor.
Reader: Oh gosh. I'm out. I knew this was going somewhere... It was nice talking with you Sarah. I'm gonna stop reading now.
That makes me sad Reader, but I'm going to continue to write anyway.
Mark 12:30 & 31 says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second commandment is this, 'love the your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
In this verse, Jesus is referencing Leviticus 19:9-18.
If you go back and read that, it becomes clear that when Jesus is telling you to love your neighbor, he is in essence saying to practice justice towards your fellow human being.
Who are our neighbors/fellow human beings?
Well, I would argue that they are the people living over in refugee communities.
They are the ones who have been living here for a few years, but were originally from Syria or Iraq or Sudan..
They are the people whose mom is currently stuck in Syria because she was too sick to fly over when the rest of her children and husband did, and now she can't get here.
They are the wife waiting for her husband to come to America from Somalia.
They are the children waiting for their father to come back after he has finished taking care of his sick mother in Iraq.
They are here, I imagine that they are terrified, and they are your neighbor.
So, let's do what Jesus told us to, and let's love them.
Reader: Ok, Sarah. I didn't actually leave when I told you I was going to. I kept reading. I'm sneaky like that. I still don't like where this is going, because I do think that the borders should be shut down, but I can't really argue the case that I should love on those who are already here and are probably super scared. So, tell me what to do.
Awwwww. Reader, I knew you loved me too much to leave. Thanks for sticking around.
I will tell you what you can do.
HOWEVER, I am no expert, and until this week, I have not been super-involved in working with refugees. I have become recently passionate, and want to show as much support as I can.
The most I have done in the past is give some money to a great organization called World Relief.
I am going to list 5 different ways that you, your family, and your church community can love your neighbor well, no matter your opinions on the borders.
1. You can GIVE.
When a refugee comes into the country, organizations are given around $2,000 per refugee. The majority of this is used on the refugee but a small % of it is used to support the organization and the people who work for it. (office space, salaries, etc.) Because the numbers of refugees have escalated due to all kinds of horrible reasons, the numbers of refugees coming into America have slowly increased. (Still less than half of 1% of all refugees in the world, so America doesn't really take in that many.) We let in 70,000, then 80,000 and were slated this year to welcome 110,000 refugees. As of right now, around 35k refugees have entered the United States. Refugee organizations have planned for 110k. There has just now, under President Trump, been a 50k cap set on refugees entering the country this year. So the 110k that organizations were planning for, will not be met this year. Long story short, they will be very low on funds and will have to lay people off and get out of leases due to this. We can support refugees who are already here, but also our fellow Americans who are serving alongside them and who care.
My brother, who works at World Relief, has not had a great couple of weeks. These people, who work at these organizations have fantastic hearts and just want to love these people like Jesus tells them to. Financial support to their organizations not only help literally, but also are a "I appreciate what you do" gesture.
These are two organizations that I know and trust. We give money to them. I'm sure there are tons of other great ones also.
2. You can VOLUNTEER.
There are so many hundreds of organizations who work with refugees. Many churches have involvement with refugee communities. Google some in your area, and then research how you can get involved. We used to know one where you could go play soccer with the men. At SEEK, you can read to children. Some organizations have you help teach English. You can adopt a family who has recently come to America, and you can show them how to shop at a grocery store or use the local bus routs.
Here are a few in Dallas.
Gateway Of Grace
3. You can PRAY.
This seems so obvious, but until this week, I have not in any way been praying for refugees. Right now, no matter your stance on the borders, refugees here in America must be terrified. They probably feel unwanted. Many of them are of different religions and don't know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They can't turn to Him for comfort because they don't know Him. So, let's pray for their comfort. Let's pray that they would not have spirits of fear. Let's pray that someone would make them feel welcome. Let's pray that someone would come and tell them about Jesus. Could be you....
Reader: Easy Sarah...Let's not get carried away here. I wouldn't even know where to begin if I was going to tell a refugee about Jesus.
I know Reader. Super scary. I feel the same way, but Jesus does all of the work anyways. We just have to be willing to listen and then let the Holy Spirit do the talking.
4. You can MAKE CARE PACKAGES AND CARDS.
This is something that our home group did this week. One of the girls in our group takes birthday cupcakes to the children who attend programs at SEEK every month. She was taking cupcakes today, so we got our money together and bought some stuff for the kids to try to help them feel special and loved. We bought puzzles, games, toys and stuffed animals. We packed them up and she took them to the director to use during the programs and to hand out to kids.
We got our kids involved by having them make cards for the kids. How precious to teach your children how to love those less fortunate. It's a great activity to do with your kids. We wrote kind words to them about how we loved them and how God loved them.
(You can also call an organization that you want to take stuff to and find out what they need. There might be great items for men, women, and babies that could be really helpful.)
5. You can SHOP!
Reader: Well crap. I can't argue with that. I love to shop. Please explain.
There is a fantastic non-profit social business that has been started here in Dallas called Vickery Trading Co. They teach Refugee women how to sew and work in a business environment. They pay the refugee women a fair wage. Most importantly, they come alongside these women and show them that they are deeply loved and valued as women.
They currently have adorable dresses, shirts, shorts and headbands for girls. Adorable patterns. I just bought Taylor way too much, but I don't have to feel guilty about it!!!
We also like to shop at SEEKS page. They have some great t-shirts and candles. John has one of their shirts, and I'm thinking I need to order some stuff for myself....
READER: You clearly saved the most fun one for last! I am definitely going to do this one. Sarah, thanks for being so awesome. You are just amazing. You have no faults of your own. You are perfect. I'm sure you are even right about the borders being open to refugees. Yea. We probably shouldn't stop refugees from coming in. Wow Sarah. You have changed my mind about everything. You are amazing.
Ok. Ok. I sense your sarcasm Reader, but I do hope that you will consider doing one of the above suggestions.
We can love our neighbor by loving on one of our local refugees!