Magazine article The Christian Century

Loving the Refugee

Magazine article The Christian Century

Loving the Refugee

Article excerpt

When thousands of refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East risked their lives to make it to Hungary, fleeing war in their homelands, the country's prime minister declared that he needed to secure his nation's borders so as "to keep Europe Christian." The migrants "have been raised in another religion," said Viktor Orban, "and represent a radically different culture."

Few things would better reflect a deeply Christian culture than showing hospitality to these desperate strangers. Concern for the stranger is embedded in scripture. "The Lord your God ... loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing," says Deuteronomy 10:18. The book of Hebrews, recalling a text from Genesis, says, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it."

The world is in the midst of perhaps the greatest refugee crisis of the modern age, with over 50 million displaced persons--the greatest number since World War II. European countries face a considerable challenge in coordinating the reception of refugees and finding a proportional way to share the burden--but it is a challenge they can meet. Turkey and Lebanon are already hosting more than 1 million displaced Syrians, and Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan are each hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Some regions are conspicuously absent in responding to the crisis. Amnesty International points out that the rich Gulf countries--Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain, which are located near the crisis region and have funded some of the groups fighting in Syria--have offered no resettlement places to Syrian refugees. …

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