Hearing anti-Islamic messages is all too common in modern Australia. There were banners at the AFL over the weekend, violent protests in Melbourne and countless Facebook pages devoted to ridding Australia of ‘the Muslim invasion’. The message that accompanies is always against refugees. For these people, Muslims are middle Eastern, and all Middle Easterners are Muslims. But here’s the thing – they’re lying to you.
Three years ago I spent time in Jordan, Israel and Palestine. In each of these three places there are healthy Christian populations. They are a minority, but certainly a significant minority. And they work to get along with people regardless of their religion. There are incidents of persecution but by and large the Christian faith is accepted.
This is not the case for all Middle Eastern countries. The reality is that while religious freedom is granted to people, Christians often face victimisation. In Syria Christians are squeezed between IS and various opposing forces who don’t really care what happens to Christians. This is why many on the refugee trail are Christian.
Christian refugees are also making a difference. In Lebanon, it is Syrian Christian refugees who are providing schooling and serving their community. Their simple acts of kindness are not only showing people what Jesus is like, but also connecting others with him.
The Wazala website tells the story of Ibrahim and Fatma. Converting to Christianity has left this family of 5 as exiles from their extended family. They hope to find asylum here in Australia.
Groups who want to prevent refugees coming to Australia won’t tell you these stories. They will tell you that all refugees are Islamic extremists who are intent on violently conquering Australia. These people build their argument on fear. I can understand some of their concerns given the incidents in Paris and Brussels, but I can’t condone it.
The story of The Good Samaritan is one I find relevant. The victim was passed by 3 people. Each of them had something to lose by helping the man. For the priest and Levite it had to do with them becoming ‘unclean’ and thus affecting their livelihood. The Samaritan had to cross ethnic boundaries and cover medical expenses to provide help. But it was only the Samaritan who stopped and helped.
It saddens me that the priest and Levite were too self-concerned to help their brother. It also saddens me when I hear Christians willing to turn their backs on refugees. Whilst not all are, some are our Christian brothers and sisters. There may be a price to pay, but can we ignore them?
Can’t we also be like the Samaritan and cross religious and ethnic boundaries to show genuine compassion? Isn’t this a major part of Jesus’ story? Events in Paris and Brussels have shown us there may be a cost to pay. The question I have is, is the cost too high? What do you think?
Jesus the Refugee is another blog I have written about refugees.
Wazala.org is a great site which helps make known the plight of Christian in the Middle East and North Africa.