I posed to him some questions after articles were published drawing into question the aid given particularly to Christian refugees. Were Christian refugees ignored or pushed away in favor of Muslim refugees? Here are my questions to my friend and his answers from his first-person experience on the ground in Jordan. It really helps to talk to someone with specific experience instead of speculating about such things, and I feel fortunate to know someone personally I could ask.
Question: Are you able to directly aid fleeing Christians?
Answer: Yes. And it is a basic humanitarian principle among UN agencies and NGOs that we provide aid regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. One of the most difficult things instead is that, with limited resources, you have to choose to some extent whom you can help and whom you cannot. Therefore, “the most vulnerable” is often the guiding principle. It is in fact an integral part of the mission statement of my organization. The idea behind “the most vulnerable” is that in conflict or disaster, there are many people affected from all walks of life. If there are those that can be supported by family, by government, or by other social structures, then we skip them and seek those who have no other support. Think of the Biblical principle of supporting "widows and orphans in their distress."
Question: Do fleeing Christians have options through Christian aid groups?
Answer: Yes. There are many groups, especially church-sponsored ones who focus specifically on serving the Christian population. Your question makes me curious to know if fleeing Christians actually care who is providing the help. I'm sure it is encouraging when they meet a brother or sister in Christ, to have that experience of solidarity and support, but I also suspect that when people are in need, they are going to seek aid wherever they can get it.
Question: Are people forced to choose between aiding one group or another?
Answer: No. Again the humanitarian principle is to remain neutral and provide aid to whomever needs it.
After answering my specific questions, my friend went on to give me his thoughts on the Christian response to the refugee crisis.
I have a lot of thoughts about what the Christian response is to all of this, but I get so impassioned about it, that I hardly know where to start. But here are some basic ideas.
I believe that there is significant biblical evidence to support a mandate to serve and welcome refugees.
I believe that fear is the opposite of love and that God is the great example of sacrificial love at great risk to Himself.
I believe that the only way to contradict terrorism and hate is to engage with the communities and countries where some of those people come from.
A couple verses I really like in view of current events are from Romans 12 and John 1.
Romans 12 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
John 1 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.From Wendy: Thank you, friend. I won't say your name publicly here, but I know your heart for Jesus, and because of your love for Jesus, your heart for refugees in the Middle East. I am proud to know you.