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What Does The Bible Say About Refugees

What Does The Bible Say About Migrants Refugees And Strangers

Fr. James Martin: What does the Bible say about refugees, migrants and foreigners?

Millions of people worldwide were forced to leave their home due to wars, natural disasters or persecution. Others travel abroad as part of their job or in search of a better life. These people live as strangers or refugees in a country that is not their own. This can be a real challenge for them and for the hosting countries. So, what does the Bible say about this topic? Does it give us guidelines on how to treat refugees and strangers?

All Believers Are Strangers On Earth

live out your time as foreigners here with reverent fear.1 Peter 1:17

This is a principle for Gods people of all times. Moses instructed the Israelites not to sell any of the land permanently, because the land belonged to God and they were only foreigners living there .

Think of how graciously God treats us, the foreigners living in his world. His kindness to us can guide our thoughts and actions towards those living as strangers among us.

How Do I Read The Bible

In this video, Dieula offers some advice.

Different people read it different ways. And thats totally fine. Want to find the best way for you?

Some people dig into a single verse and try to think of a million things it might mean. Others read it just like they would read any other book, cover to cover. Others read it out loud, by themselves or with a group, which often helps them understand the words and meanings better. But, honestly, if you just want to read the Bible, then read it. Hunker down in a comfy chair and read a whole chapter or two. Try to wrap your head around the big story.

Some tips: Find a translation of the Bible that speaks to you. There are dozens of versions available now, and most of them are faithful to the original languages. Some sound like Shakespeare. Some sound like everyday conversation. Try a few out and see what grabs you.

You dont have to read the whole Bible from beginning to end. There are a few parts that some readers find tough going, and those could derail your best intentions. Try skipping around to find the stories that interest you. We suggest Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, 1 Samuel, Daniel, Jonah, or one of the four books about Jesuss lifeMatthew, Mark, Luke, or John.

After youve read a few stories, try reading a complete letter from the New Testamentlike maybe the four chapters of Philippians or the five chapters of James. Read a Psalm out loud. Or go through Song of Songs with your significant other.

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Bible Verses About Refugees

But Abram said to Sarai, Behold, your maid is in your power do to her what is good in your sight. So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.He said, Hagar, Sarais maid, where have you come from and where are you going? And she said, I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.

Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children.A mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock.They baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.

Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons.

You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you.He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him you shall not mistreat him.

Responses To What Does Scripture Say About Refugees

Top 16 Bible Verses
  • November 20, 2015 at 10:47 am#

    We live in Germany, where many of the refugees are coming, and this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot in the last year . I think this is a difficult struggle right now for the developing world, but that Christians need to respond as they have always been called to respond: with both wisdom and compassion, with truth balanced with love. We have had various Syrians in our home and have found them overall to be warm, kind people. While I do have some fears about the overall picture of all these migrants coming into Europe , on a personal level we can act in love and not in fear we can pray for them, give to help with their needs, love the ones who come to our table and across our path. God is in charge of the big picture but we can make a difference for individuals. Thanks for encouraging people to do that!

  • WendyNovember 20, 2015 at 11:37 am#

    It’s much easier to philosophize the issue here from the U. S., but you are living it where the rubber meets the road. Thank you for sharing, Julie.

  • Curious ThinkerNovember 24, 2015 at 2:54 am#

    Great post I always believed welcoming foreigners including refugees is demonstration a Christ like attitude and am quite perplexed that some Christians don’t support refugees. You had so many good points, God Bless.

  • WendyNovember 24, 2015 at 4:26 am#

    Except the Bible does not differentiate that way or give us a model for that way of thinking, Louis.

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    God Wants Us To Show Hospitality

    We live in a broken world. We cant solve all of humanitys problems. In particular, there is a limit to the number of refugees a society can receive. This requires much wisdom on the part of political leaders: who should they welcome in and who should they send back? But on a smaller scale, we can make a difference ourselves.

    It is a general Biblical command, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, to love your neighbor as you love yourself. But our love should not be confined to our literal neighbors or to our inner circle of friends and family members. In Hebrews 13:2, we are urged to show hospitality to strangers as well. These people are especially vulnerable and may need our help. In Matthew 25:31-40, Jesus describes the final judgment. He says that the King, meaning Jesus Himself, will praise the people who have cared for Him when He was in need. Among other things, they welcomed Him into their home when He had no place to stay. However, those people are surprised by His words. They dont remember having done that! The Kings answer is remarkable: The truth is, anything you did for any of My people here, you also did for Me . In Matthew 10:40, Jesus says something similar to His disciples: Whoever receives you receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him Who sent Me God the Father.

    What Does Scripture Say About Refugees

    A lot of people are arguing about what to do with Syrian refugees. Many people are afraid of terrorism. Others are horrified by the lack of compassion that fear seems to cause. Many want our government to be open to immigrants. Many want it to be closed. Some people want our nation to reflect Christian values. Others do not. And these lines are not drawn in consistent ways.

    One focus I havent seen much in recent Christian articles is what the Bible actually says about a believers response to refugees and immigrants. Ive seen memes on the Good Samaritan and sarcastic references to Mary and Joseph as rejected travelers. Ive seen impassioned pleas by Christians for compassion and others warning against it. But does the Bible actually give us restrictive requirements for a Christians response to refugees?

    Consider first Old Testament Law.

    Deuteronomy 10 NAS 17 For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. 18 He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. 19 So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

    Jesus actually solves this for us quite clearly in the Gospels.

    The author of Hebrews reinforces Jesus teaching.

    Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it

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    What Is The Bible

    The Bible is a book that some laugh at, some swear on, and some leave on a shelf to gather dust. It could mean nothing, or it could mean everything.

    Its a collection of writings revered by Jews and Christians. But you dont have to be of any particular religion to read it. Anyone and everyone is welcome to look inside.

    Open it up , and you find two parts: The Old Testament and the New Testament. What are those? Well, the Old Testament is essentially the same as the Jewish Scriptures. It focuses especially on the nation of Israelits laws, history, and worship. And its full of stories and poetry about the relationship between God and humanity. Many of the Sunday School stories you may have heard ofAdam and Eve, Noahs Ark, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions Den, etc.come from the Old Testament.

    The New Testament tells the story of Jesus Christ and his followers. It also includes a number of letters written by early Christian leaders that offer instruction, encouragement, and challenges to live life differently.

    Incidentally, the word Bible comes from the Greek word for book, and from a root word for the reed used in making an early form of paper. Thats the short answer.

    Jesus Said How His Followers Treated Strangers Should Show Disciple

    What the Bible says about Refugees

    I was a stranger and you invited me in.Matthew 25:35

    Middle Eastern cultures are famous for their hospitality. For example, Abraham invited the angelic visitors into his tent and provided a lavish meal for them . Even so, strangers among the different tribal groups were looked at with suspicion, often conned or taken advantage of, and not treated well, especially if they were poor. Gods instructions in the Old Testament were countercultural.

    Jesus follows the Old Testament pattern and takes it a step further by saying that how we treat strangers indicates whether we are his followers. We are to invite the stranger in if we are his disciples.

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    Refugees And Immigrants In The Us

    But in the U.S. context, welcoming refugees and other immigrants is remarkably safe. Of the 3 million refugees resettled since 1980, none has taken an American citizens life in a terrorist attack. And theres ample evidence immigrants commit crime at far lower rates than native-born U.S. citizens. Most economists agree immigrants are also net economic contributors, especially as a dramatic labor shortage fuels inflation. But even if loving our refugee and immigrant neighbors presented a security threat or economic burden, the biblical call remains.

    Presumably, we tend to avoid discussions of refugees and immigration in the local church because theyve become hot-button political issues. Pastors may, understandably, want to avoid a divisive issue that will generate angry emails from those discipled more by talk radio, cable news, and social media than by the Scriptures. But thats precisely why its so urgent for us to engage with a distinctly biblical, fact-based, non-partisan perspective. Until the U.S. churchs approach to immigration is primarily informed by the Bible rather than politicians and media, we will largely continue to miss out on one of the greatest missional opportunities of our time.

    Lets Not Be Us Verses Them But Instead Us For Them

    When I woke up this morning to my personal scripture reading in Matthew, I read of Jesus and his family fleeing a murderous oppressor and a mass genocide of babies to find refuge in near-by Egypt. Just when I thought Id take a break from obsessing over the news and current events, I realized again that this story is not a new one. In fact, its part of my own. Even our beloved Jesus and his family knew what its like to run for their lives, hoping to find safety on the other side. The life of Jesus compels me to look at my own and be willing to examine my heart in light of Gods love for all peoples.

    Help us, they cry. Defend us against our enemies. Protect us from their relentless attack. Do not betray us now that we have escaped. Let our refugees stay among you. Hide them from our enemies until the terror is past. Isaiah 16:3-4

    Determined to say welcome even when its uncomfortable,


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    What Have Immigrants Done For Us

    From genre-defining scientists to award-winning artists, immigrants have done amazing things for U.S. culture. Throughout history, immigrants have played a large part in the progression of our society. Below, we have compiled quotes on immigration from a wide variety of sources including politicians, celebrities, and journalists.

    Why Are There So Many Bad Feelings About The Bible

    What The Bible Says About How to Treat Immigrants, Refugees and ...

    Good question. And while some have issues with what the Bible actually says, others have problems with the people who quote it.

    Before we begin, please watch the video for a long-overdue apology.

    Okay. So there are a lot of people out there who believe the Bible is judgmental, inconsistent, ignorant, and old-fashioned. Their issue is with the Bible itself. Some of those people have read the Bible. Some havent. And some dont even want to, since some obnoxious Bible-beater has turned them off. Their issue is with Bible people.

    Lets deal with the Bible issue first.

    Can the Bible judge us at times? Yes. And thats not always fun. Sort of like a personal trainer pushing you to be your best self. But along with the judgment, theres a stronger message of love. The two actually go together. Is it old-fashioned? Well, its certainly old. But despite the fact that it was written by 40 or more people thousands of years ago, we still find great wisdom and fresh ideas in the Bible. But dont take our word for it. Look inside the Bible and see for yourself.

    Now, to the Bible people issue.

    We think theres a big difference between wielding the Bible as a sledgehammer and letting it lead us into an authentic interaction with God. Were aiming for the latter.

    Whether your feelings about the Bible have been negative, positive, or apathetic, we invite you to get the whole picture by Looking Inside.

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    Missing The Missional Opportunity

    As a result of this discipleship deficit, most evangelicals are missing a divinely orchestrated missional opportunity. The apostle Paul makes clear why God sovereignly establishes the times and movements of human beings saying, He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him . God has a missional purpose in migration, but most evangelicals seem to be missing that perspective. Only a minority say immigrants arriving in their communities presents an opportunity to introduce people to Jesus. Instead, more describe immigration as some sort of threat or burden.

    Thats tragic because the missional opportunity is so remarkable. A significant number of refugees and other immigrants to the U.S. come from countries where they may never haveencountered a Christian or heard the gospel. But they land in the U.S.a country with robust religious freedom, allowing Christians to share their faith and non-Christians to decide whether to accept or reject that message. Thats not the reality in many of the countries refugees are fleeing from. For example, more than 70,000 Afghans have resettled in the U.S. in the past year. Not only does Afghanistan have some of the most severe restrictions on religious freedom, but its also the only country in the world in which less than 5% of the population personally knows a Christian.

    Scriptures To Consider On This World Refugee Day

    As we focus today on the worldwide refugee crises, here are some verses to consider:

    1.Exodus 22:21

    Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

    2.Leviticus 19:10

    Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.

    3.Leviticus 19:34

    The foreigners residing among you must be treated as native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

    4.Deuteronomy 10:18

    He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.

    5.Psalm 146:9

    The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

    6.Zechariah 7:10

    Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.

    7.Matthew 25:35

    For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.

    8.John 15:12

    This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

    9.Ephesians 2:19

    Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with Gods people and also members of his household.

    10.Hebrews 13:1-2

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