Be willing to be uncomfortable
Wilkins calls fear the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Fear of the unknown — the stranger — the “other” is the biggest roadblock to caring for the orphan, the widow, the fatherless and the refugee. However, Wilkins would prompt us to remember that “perfect love casts out all fear.” As we grow in grace and seek to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we naturally grow in loving our neighbor as ourselves. “When you seek to employ the loving, biblical, response — not just as individuals but as a community — the call is not to allow what we’re clearly called to do in scripture to be derailed by fear.” To Wilkins, there is no greater tool in the enemy’s toolbox than fear.
Uncomfortable yet? I know I am. I’m happy to schedule my week, accomplish my goals and live life as comfortable as possible. But Jesus interrupts my world. He reminds me that my ultimate goal as a Christian is to know him, enjoy him, and join him in establishing his Kingdom on earth. What does that have to do with refuges? Everything.
Jesus was concerned about the redemption and restoration of humanity within the context of God’s kingdom through the gospel. Our challenge is to purse the expansion of Christ’s kingdom on earth. The growth and establishment of the early Church, as described in the books of Acts, sparked and sustained an evangelistic, missionary movement that changed the world. The fatherless found a father. The orphan found family. The stranger became known, and the refugee found a new home. Concern became compassion. Compassion became conviction and conviction led to action.
How will you respond?
Everyday thousands of refugees are moving into cities all across our country. Millions more are being resettled throughout Europe. No matter where you’d land on this issue politically, it’s clear God is moving refugees towards his people. Could it be for them to hear the Gospel?
Wilkins pointed out the hope index among refugees is near zero. However, he believes God’s people can change that. We are hardwired first responders. We are, by divine design, called to run towards brokenness, hardship and chaos. Why? Because our God turns stories of hopelessness and despair into stories of HOPE.
Maybe start with just showing up in someone’s life. Often some of the best ministry is the ministry of relationship and presence. There is power in coming alongside someone and helping them rebuild a normal life, practice their English and enjoy human connection. You don’t need a great deal of expertise to do that; anyone can invite someone to sit down at their table for dinner.
You may find that what people need most is not a can from a food pantry, a shirt you no longer wear, or a check for them to cash, but rather a connection and presence — someone to sit with — someone who knows their name and is interested in who they are.
At the end of the day, caring for refugees begins with caring for our neighbors — the people God has placed right in front of us. And like the rich man from the parable, we all have someone outside our gate.
Edwin Copeland serves as the Director of Church United with the National Christian Foundation of South Florida where he works to unify the Church through collaboration and celebration to see faith, hope, and love spread throughout South Florida. To learn more about Church United, visit churchunited.city.
Read more articles by Edwin Copeland at: goodnewsfl.org/author/edwincopeland/