Edit 2/2017: This post was originally written in 2015. I’ve stated it below but want to reiterate here at the top: this is not political commentary. This is also not systematic theology. What this is is a sampling of bible verses (a list! which by its very nature means scripture taken out of context!) to show that issues related to how we treat foreigners (immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants, etc.) are important to the heart of God as evidenced by their prevalence throughout scripture, and that they share a theme of welcome. Determining how scripture should be interpreted and applied in a modern context or through public policy in our modern-day nation-states is not my objective here; suggesting that we start with a heart attitude of welcome and Christian hospitality is. I wish I didn’t have to say this but I do: I am not against secure borders or responsible (even rigorous) vetting or doing our best to keep our families safe. Responsible vetting and generous compassion do not have to be at odds with one another and I wish there would be less jumping to conclusions, less shouting at one another, and more collaboration and compassionate action. If you’d like more information on what that could look like, please follow the work of Preemptive Love—a non-partisan coalition of Christians helping refugees who are fleeing violence (in addition to working for sustainable change). I have huge respect for their work and their leadership in this volatile area. I also believe they represent the intent of the biblical narrative and mandate with heart and integrity and practical wisdom.
Thanks for reading,
The gospel of peace extends not only beyond our borders, but within them.
Facebook is a hot mess right now as we link to articles and throw around our opinions on Syria, the refugee crisis, the recent Paris attacks, Beirut, you name it. When things escalate like this, I literally find it hard to sleep. In full disclosure, I sit squarely in the “welcome refugees” camp. (Which, by the way, does not equate to a “let’s do away with borders and let everyone in” camp!) I realize these issues are complex and polarizing, but my own experience coupled with my faith doesn’t allow me wiggle room on the issue. I want my whole life to be oriented around a posture of Christian welcome and I’m willing to bear the consequences of what that welcome actually means.
All the ranting and raving across news outlets and social media (from both sides of the debate) has got me wondering: how many shouting “keep them out!” have ever shared a meal with an asylum seeker or refugee in your home or theirs?
I’d like to introduce you to my Afghani friend, Amira (name changed). She’s given me permission to share this photo of us sharing a meal in her living room.
I met her one day on the train platform while visiting a city on the other side of Australia from where we normally live. We first made eye contact when I noticed her admiring my children. I smiled and said hello and we chatted until the train pulled up, continued until we got off at the same stop downtown, and carried on talking for another twenty minutes on a near-by bench.
It was pretty wonderful to be able to tell her that earlier that same morning my husband and I and a few friends had been gathered in prayer for Afghanistan. Of course she was amazed—amazed that we cared in the first place, and amazed that we’d set aside time in our day to pray for a country none of us had ever been to. We talked about religion—hers and mine—and what our lives were like here, both immigrants in Australia, albeit very different pathways of arrival.
When Amira’s father was murdered point blank at their family’s shop in Afghanistan, she and her mother and brother fled to Pakistan. As violence worsened there, they sought refuge in Australia.
Amira’s life is radically different now. She’s studying to become a technician at a pathology lab and, in her words, she chose this profession “because she wants to find cures for things like cancer and make the world a better place.”
She’s remarkable—not just because of her story about fleeing for her life, or even because of the accomplishments she’s achieved. She’s remarkable because she is her—fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.
Do you know anyone like Amira? Her story is unique and yet it’s not. There are countless others like her—foreigners who’ve sought asylum and refuge—and each of them have reasons we’ll never understand until we listen and notice and allow them to share their stories, their time, their talent, their culture, and their lives with us.
What does the bible have to say about refugees?
Earlier this week I shared some personal stories about my own journey of immigration and some of the milestones along the way that have helped shape my worldview. Today I want to offer some of what the Bible says about foreigners (including immigration, refugees, and asylum seekers). If this isn’t an issue you’ve deliberately looked into, you might be surprised at how full the scriptures are. Mind you, the following is only a sampling—there are many, many more scriptures.
As with any list of scripture presented like this, verses are plucked up and put into bullet form void of context. Of course that means there’s a much deeper and more accurate understanding that would come if we were going through these systematically. My point here isn’t to unpack the theology behind welcoming foreigners (also called strangers, aliens, migrants, refugees, etc.), or to suggest what public policy surrounding the issues might look like, but to show how important this topic has been to the people of God throughout history and to the heart of God himself. That is my entire point: to show the topic’s importance and prevalence right throughout the whole bible (and—by implication—determine that we should also care!), and to suggest we begin from a heart posture of welcome.
I hope you find this list helpful, and that it will cause you to do your own study on the topic and draw your own conclusions.
A comment on public policy and politics
I understand this issue is complex and polarizing, filled with political and ideological division. I have no interest in being contentious or arguing about the specifics of public policy for the purposes of this post. I am not qualified in policy-making or immigration law, nor do I pretend to know all the answers to the current refugee crisis. There is not a political party out there capable of getting all the details “right” on their own and we do ourselves (and our governments and our neighbors) a disservice when we imagine there is. The reality is, we need each other. What I do desire is to contribute my small part in helping illuminate what I believe is a biblical response: a heart attitude of welcome. Can we start there?
Let’s 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 I’d take a break from obsessing over the news and current events, I realized again that this story is not a new one. In fact, it’s part of my own. Even our beloved Jesus and his family knew what it’s 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 God’s 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 it’s uncomfortable,
Who sought refuge as recorded in the Bible?
This is a brief run-through of some of the people in the Bible (there are many more) who took refuge, sought asylum, or migrated for other reasons, including being sent into exile, escaping natural disaster or famine, fleeing from political strife, violence, or persecution, etc:
- Noah and his family take refuge from the flood. (Gen 7-8)
- Abraham is called by God to leave his country and go to Egypt, taking up residence there as an alien. (Gen 12)
- Lot and his family flee Sodom. (Gen 19)
- Joseph becomes a victim of human trafficking and eventually finds a way to not only contribute to society but gets hired as the highest ranking official under Pharaoh. (Gen 37-50)
- Jacob moves his family to Egypt to escape famine; they are given jobs and land. (Gen 46-47)
- Israelites become oppressed by Egypt and mass genocide of babies begins. Moses is saved by Pharaoh’s daughter and adopted into their family. (Ex 1)
- Moses flees Egypt and becomes resident in Midian. (Ex 2)
- Moses returns to Egypt. (Ex 4)
- Israelites fled Egypt so quickly they couldn’t even make provisions. (Ex 12)
- God instructs Moses and his people to never oppress foreigners and reminds them they were once aliens in Egypt. (Ex 22)
- God gives multiple instructions and laws regarding the treatment of foreigners. (Deut & Lev)
- Ruth, an immigrant, commits herself to Naomi, and then Boaz, becoming the great-grandmother of King David. (Ruth 1-4)
- Daniel serves God while in exile in Babylon. (Dan 1)
- Esther is made Queen and rescues her people (foreigners in exile) from genocide. (Es 8)
- Nehemiah, a foreigner, asks the king if he can be released to go home and rebuild his city that was left in ruins. (Neh 2)
- Jesus and his family flee genocide under an oppressive ruler—the murderous Herod—and find refuge in Egypt until it’s safe for them to return. (Matt 2)
What does the Bible say about immigration, refugees, asylum seekers, and caring for the poor and oppressed?
The following scriptures are from the NLT translation.
- Gen 12:10 At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner.
- Ex 2:21-22 Moses accepted the invitation, and he settled there with him. In time, Reuel gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife. Later she gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, for he explained, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.”
- Ex 22:21 You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.
- Ex 23:9 You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.
- Lev 19:33-34 “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
- Lev 23:22 “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.”
- Lev 25:35-36 If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and cannot support himself, support him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident and allow him to live with you. Do not charge interest or make a profit at his expense. Instead, show your fear of God by letting him live with you as your relative.
- Num 15:14-16 And if any foreigners visit you or live among you and want to present a special gift as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, they must follow these same procedures. Native-born Israelites and foreigners are equal before the Lord and are subject to the same decrees. This is a permanent law for you, to be observed from generation to generation. The same instructions and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigners living among you.
- Deut 10:17-19 “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.”
- Deut 23:15 If slaves should escape from their masters and take refuge with you, you must not hand them over to their masters.
- Deut 24:14 Never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers, whether they are fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns.
- Deut 26:11-13 Afterward you may go and celebrate because of all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household. Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration. “Every third year you must offer a special tithe of your crops. In this year of the special tithe you must give your tithes to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, so that they will have enough to eat in your towns. Then you must declare in the presence of the Lord your God, ‘I have taken the sacred gift from my house and have given it to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, just as you commanded me. I have not violated or forgotten any of your commands.’
- Deut 27:19 ‘Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans, or widows.’ And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’
- Deut 31:12 Call them all together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living in your towns—so they may hear this Book of Instruction and learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the terms of these instructions.
- Ruth 1:16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
- Ruth 2:9-11 See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.” Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.” “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers.
- Ps 146:9 The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.
- Prov 31:8-9 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.
- Is 58: 6-11 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
- Is 1:17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
- Is 16:3-4 “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.”
- Is 21:13-15 This message came to me concerning Arabia: O caravans from Dedan, hide in the deserts of Arabia. O people of Tema, bring water to these thirsty people, food to these weary refugees. They have fled from the sword, from the drawn sword, from the bent bow and the terrors of battle.
- Jer 22:2-3 ‘Listen to this message from the Lord, you king of Judah, sitting on David’s throne. Let your attendants and your people listen, too. This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!
- Ez 47:21-23 “Divide the land within these boundaries among the tribes of Israel. Distribute the land as an allotment for yourselves and for the foreigners who have joined you and are raising their families among you. They will be like native-born Israelites to you and will receive an allotment among the tribes. These foreigners are to be given land within the territory of the tribe with whom they now live. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
- Zech 7:9-12a “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other. “Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. They made their hearts as hard as stone,”
- Mal 3:4-5 Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past. “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
- Matt 2:13-15 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death.
- Matt 5:46-47 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.
- Matt 25:34-40 “Then the King [Jesus] will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
- Mark 12:30-31 “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
- Luke 4-25-26 “Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
- Luke 14:12-13 Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
- Acts 7:28-29 ‘Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’ When Moses heard that, he fled the country and lived as a foreigner in the land of Midian. There his two sons were born.
- Acts 28:1-2 Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us.
- 2 Cor 8:13-14 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.
- Phil 3:20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.
- Col 3:11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
- Heb 11:8-10 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
- Heb 13:1-3 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.
- James 1: 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
- James 2:1-4 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
- 1 Pet 4:7-10 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
For further reading:
- God instructs his people to build cities of refuge: Num 35, Josh 20
- God himself is often called a Refuge, a Fortress, a Shelter, or a Rock in whom we can hide and find safety: 2 Sam 22:3, Ps 9:9, Ps 59:16, Is 25:4-5, Jer 16:19 Na 1:7
- The Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37
Welcome to our shores18 November 2015 at 11:58 am
[…] ALSO: What does the Bible say about refugees? (Including a printable PDF of 50+ scriptures for your further […]
Gary20 November 2015 at 11:31 am
Heather shared this with us. Thank you for cutting through all the emotions from both sides and bringing a sober, balanced commentary that’s rooted in what God says and not the ideals of mankind.
Adriel Booker16 December 2015 at 4:45 pm
Thanks Gary. I’ve been so encouraged to see the way Canada has been responding during the crisis.
Adriel Booker recently posted..Coming Clean: We’re all drunk on something
Myrka12 September 2016 at 3:13 pm
So good Adriel!! I Write this from Beirut where today our Group will be meeting with displaced Syrian refugees. Would love to follow you on social media- what’s your Instagram? Mine is @myrkadellanos. God bless you and your family! God is good!!
Adriel Booker11 October 2016 at 12:11 pm
Thanks for your message and your important work Myrka—glad you found this post helpful. My socials are all @adrielbooker. 🙂
Deb Myers9 December 2015 at 12:50 am
Thank you for your heart from the bottom of my heart! Your article just renewed my hope in humanity!
Adriel Booker16 December 2015 at 4:47 pm
I’m glad. It’s been a tough season hasn’t it Deb? (And I’m saying that as a comfortable American living safely in Australia surrounded. I recognize my privilege. But still, it’s tough.)
Adriel Booker recently posted..Wings and roots: Of mixed metaphor and the search for home
Ronnie11 February 2016 at 11:58 am
Adriel, this scripture has nothing to do with Refugees. VS. 3 is referring to the Isrealites being outcast and to not harm them do the the spoiler (anti-christ). (spoiler, oppressors, and extortioner is another name for the anti-christ)
You have to read the entire story, not just the scripture. Everything in all the scriptures was planned by God in order to bring about the story of Jesus death on the cross. Every story refers to the death, burial, and resurrection (rapture means the same thing).
The story of Joseph is a story of forgiveness, not Jacob running as a refugee.
The problem with the refugees is not they need a place to live. Not all refugees are terrorist and I commend you on your support of this family, however, Islam is a religion against God (a false god worshipped called Allah). The peacefull refugees read and suppor the Quran in which is a book they use demanding to murder infadels (Jews and Americans). These refugees that are peaceful, should war break out in this US will support the Islam murdering radical. God calls us to not associate with them and why the wars in the OT,
Sodom and Gamorrah is homosexuality and God destroyed it. Lot’s wife looked back to see how many were destroyed and in doing so, disobeyed God.
All you have written is very incorrect.
Adriel Booker31 March 2016 at 1:46 pm
I’m not going to get into a theological debate on a comment thread, but thank you for your thoughts Ronnie. I have several points of disagreement to what you’ve written, but I will leave it with quoting from the post above. I believe I’ve already well stated my intention for the long list of examples and scriptures related to what the Bible commonly refers to as “foreigners” (which is a huge, broad category with MANY subcategories):
“Today I want to offer some of what the Bible says about immigration, refugees, and asylum seekers. If this isn’t an issue you’ve deliberately looked into, you might be surprised at how full the scriptures are. Mind you, the following is only a sampling—there are many, many more scriptures. As with any list of scripture presented like this, verses are plucked up and put into bullet form void of context. Of course that means there’s a much deeper and more accurate understanding that would come if we were going through these systematically. My point here isn’t to explain the theology behind welcoming foreigners (also called strangers, aliens, migrants, etc.), but to show how important this topic has been to the people of God throughout history and to the heart of God himself. I hope you find this list helpful. I understand this issue is complex and polarizing, filled with political and ideological division. I have no interest in being contentious or arguing about the specifics of public policy for the purposes of this post. What I do desire is to contribute my small part in helping illuminate what I believe is a biblical response: WELCOME.”
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Ronnie Eastman31 March 2016 at 5:31 pm
Foreigners is not in the Bible. You should study Gen 20: 16-18 and consider Commandment #1.
God called us to not allow the Muslim nation into this US. Islam is against God and He demands we not allow them.
You are wrong again but you knew this otherwise you would not have requested me not answer you.
I have been to Bible college and know the Bible very well. I have studied it and read it through three times more years than you are old from your picture.
Adriel Booker30 May 2016 at 5:07 pm
I’m glad you’ve read the bible 120 times. That’s quite an accomplishment. I hope you continue to read and that the Holy Spirit will give you revelation about God’s love for all people regardless of race, gender, class, orientation, religion, national passport, or immigration status.
Kelly D Hammonds4 July 2018 at 12:13 am
You do not know Jesus at all from your words. In the final Judgement, the clear and unambiguous message from Jesus himself was that the righteous were welcomed into the Kingdom because “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” A stranger is Christ in disguise. “Truly, I say to you, as you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me.”
Jane Allen25 May 2016 at 10:19 pm
Thanks for showing the heart of God about an issue as contentious as this. As Christians, I believe God’s will should supersede ours, under all circumstances. It might be hard, but it’s do-able if we ask God for assistance. There is hope for humanity if we take time to search the mind of the Lord about issues. God is always talking. We just have to listen more.
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Adriel Booker30 May 2016 at 5:08 pm
Thanks Jane—well said. I’m trying to listen more, too.
Adriel Booker recently posted..Wings and roots: Of mixed metaphor and the search for home
Paul26 May 2016 at 8:38 pm
Thank you very much for the article.
I my self am an asylum seeker,i understand better what it is like to be in a foreign land.
I would like to ask you if you will be in Europe for some reason so that you can talk to us.
I wish you all the best.
You are one of my heroes.
Adriel Booker30 May 2016 at 5:12 pm
Hello Paul. I’m honored and humbled that you’ve somehow landed on this page. I have several friends working in Turkey, Greece, and other nations with asylum seekers—I have no plans to be in Europe soon, although I would absolutely love to. We have an asylum seekers centre here in Sydney (only five minutes walk from my house actually) and my family and I have growing involvement with them; we hope we are good neighbors to those who land here on Australian shores. I hope you always sense and see that—despite the small, vocal opposition—there is a big, wide family of God who welcome you with open arms. We not only welcome you, but I’m sure we have so much to learn from you. Keep going, keep sharing, and keep leaning in to the transformative power of Jesus. May God bless you and may the world around you care for you and your loved ones well while you need it most.
Adriel Booker recently posted..Welcome to our shores
tfjtoday31 May 2016 at 2:00 pm
I truly believe that you wrote this post out of love and compassion. However, I cannot help myself from pointing out grave misinterpretation of the Old Testament passages. I believe that direct application of those Old Testament verses is not only misleading, but also dangerous. I’ve actually seen many people claim that the “Bible tells us to welcome refugees,” but I think most of verses they cite to support their claims is just a pretext. Reality is so different. I would be grateful if you just have a glance at the following comments, and seriously consider whether we Christians should uncritically embrace “open border” policies, or act more prudently regarding this issue.
•Noah and his family had to fled due to a sweeping disaster that struck the entire world. Majority of so-called “refugees” flocking into Europe are not fleeing from such a big disaster. THEY ARE BASICALLY SAFE in refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan. And Lot and his family fled from Sodom due to a disaster, but nowhere in the Bible did they receive humanitarian aid from other people or live in refugee accommodation. (Gen.19:30..”Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains..”)
•Abraham went to Egypt AGAINST God’s will. God didn’t tell him to do so.
•Joseph cannot be equated with today’s refugees. The refugees PAY for human traffickers to reach Europe and seek for better employment or welfare.
•God instructs Moses and his people to never oppress foreigners, and He gives multiple instructions and laws regarding the treatment of foreigners. But note that criminal laws were applied equally to foreigners. In this light, today’s non-effective law enforcement on crimes committed by illegal aliens seems not to be sufficient. Moreover, direct application of these Old Testament passages to “foreigners” will lead us to an unexpected conclusion. Please also take a look at my comment on Num 15:14-16 and Deut 31:12.
•Ruth, an immigrant, commits herself to Naomi, and then Boaz. Note that she also confessed her faith in God of Israel. Majority of today’s refugees commit themselves to Allah. Allah declares Judaism (religion of Naomi and Boaz) a false religion.
•Daniel serves God (of Judaism) while in exile in Babylon. Majority of today’s refugees serve Allah while seeking refuge in Europe. Allah declares Judaism a false religion.
•Esther is made Queen and rescues her people (Jews.) Majority of today’s refugees commit themselves to Allah. Allah hates Jews and says “in the last day Jews will hide behind trees, find them and kill them”. While Esther tried to save Jews from genocide, Allah would ENCOURAGE the genocide of people whom Esther had saved by risking her own life. What an irony!
•Jesus and his family flee genocide under an oppressive ruler. But they have returned as soon as the king had died. Bearing it in mind, I suppose that “resettlement” doesn’t seem to be a Biblical idea. “Refugees” should go back to their home countries if conflicting parties reached a cease fire. To this end, they should not travel as far as Europe or other Western countries. They’d better staying in Middle Eastern safe countries. And the problem of poor employment and education opportunities, which may be true reasons of their seeking refuge in developed countries, is a completely different issue.
•Ex 2:21-22 Moses accepted the invitation, and he settled there with him. Note that he then took care of his father-in-law’s flock. Although he once had been a prince of Egypt, he humiliated himself to the point that he engaged in probably a dirty, backbreaking job to HELP HIS HOST COMMUNITY. Majority of today’s refugees remain dependent on social welfare. There’re so many “no-nos” among Muslim refugees, such as taking on jobs that involve handling of pork or alcohols.
•Ex 22:21 You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. However, when foreigners mistreat native population (via rising crime waves, rape epidemics and terror attacks, etc.), what should we do? Aren’t we not allowed to protect ourselves and our families?
•Lev 23:22 “When you harvest the crops of your land….Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you.” It is clear that these verses didn’t assume that foreigners can constitute a huge proportion in the community’s entire population, e.g., somewhere like 30% or 50% or so, as in some cities in Sweden, UK, or Germany. (I don’t know about Australia, though). Once the proportion of foreigners reached that height, these precepts can never be observed. And any kind of social benefit systems will collapse, either. It is clear that the ancient Israel didn’t adopt an “open border” policy like these modern countries. (I think Australia’s policy is more prudent, which means, smarter.)
・•Num 15:14-16 …. ”Native-born Israelites and foreigners are equal before the Lord and are subject to the same decrees.” This clearly means that if a foreigner commit a blasphemy against God of Israel, he must be KILLED. Majority of today’s refugees commit themselves to Allah. Allah hates Jews and says their god is false. So, then, should they all be killed? Do not consider “equality” in a modern-day sense. God of Israel was not a lukewarm “all-matey” god. He loved people, but He would also punish those who rebel against Him.
・”He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing.” Yes, He did and He would do so even today. But what if “refugees” refuse to receive food supply aid due to its “uncleanness” (non-halal status in a Islamic sense)? What if they formed a “no-go zone” and enforce a strict dress code upon passer-by women? Many of them seem to come to Europe to rule the host community, not to beg mercy. Had God of Israel showed love to even such people?
・”Deut 23:15 If slaves should escape from their masters and take refuge with you….” How many “ex-slaves” among the so-called “refugees?” I don’t think there’re many. They had money to pay smugglers. They have Iphones and smartphones. They seem to be fit and energetic. Where’re ex-slaves who fled from a brutal master?
•Deut 27:19 “‘Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans, or widows.’” Amen. And when “justice” is applied to the so-called refugees, majority of them have no legal grounds whatsoever to allow themselves to stay in any of European or other Western countries. Applications must be submitted in “the first safe country.”
•Deut 31:12 “Call them all together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living in your towns—so they may hear this Book of Instruction and learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the terms of these instructions.” This is a striking verse to me. This passage seems to say that “foreigners” MUST LISTEN TO THE WORD OF GOD (not their god, but God of host community) and obey His Commandment! Sounds great to me, but it can be so offensive to Muslims….Anyway, couldn’t you see that today’s situation is totally opposite? Majority of “refugees” are Muslims, who uphold Koran which blatantly denies the legitimacy of Judaism and Christianity. They wouldn’t listen to what the Bible says.
•Ruth 1:16 But Ruth replied, “…your God will be my God” Yes, she embraced the faith of her mother-in-law. In contrast, majority of refugees despise the faith of Naomi, which is, of course, Judaism.
•Ps 146:9 “The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.” Yes, He would. He would also disrupt the plans of those who seek to “free-ride” on welfare systems without any legal ground, sexually attack or rape native women or engage in terror attacks and drug and arm trafficking. Only those who truly deserve protection must be protected.
There will be many more arguments, but at this point my conclusion is clear.
In the Old Testament time Israel, foreigners must submit to the law of God of Israel. They were expected to show absolute respect to God of Judaism (God of host community) in exchange for receiving protection and such provisions as food and clothing. If they didn’t, they were severely punished. If we apply these passages directly to modern-day “refugees,” they should be restricted from enjoying free exercise of religion (Islam). They have to follow every single law of the land as well as local cultural and religious ethics, and should be swiftly punished or expelled whenever they found committing illegal acts or breaking these norms. In contrast, many UK, Swedish, French and German authorities are not effectively enforcing laws on Muslim immigrants due to fear of riot or simply because of the lack of resources, while a multitude of Muslim migrants claim their rights to receive Halal food, enforce Shariah law and even demonstrate their ambition to take over host country.
I wish your country will not follow suit.
Adriel Booker7 June 2016 at 9:40 am
Thanks for taking the time to write out all of your beliefs on this subject. You’ve obviously thought about it a lot, which is wonderful.
As you can see from my post, the overall point of my article and list of verses and examples is to show that the Bible isn’t silent about these issues but actually has a lot to say. I’m not comparing current day Syrian refugees to ancient Israelites. My focus is to draw out the tone and intent of scripture, which (I believe) is always to give demonstration to what the gospel of Love looks like. Also, I’ve clearly stated that I’ve included scripture about foreigners, asylum seekers, immigrants, refugees, etc. There is a lot of variation among those categories and my point was (and still is) to highlight the overall sense of welcome that we see woven throughout scripture in relation to these many examples. How that plays out on a policy and political level needs to be worked out within our geo-political nations and current times. The biblical principles can help inform us if we’re willing, but the issues and solutions remain complicated. If they weren’t so complicated, the world would have solved these types of problems long ago. Still, as a Christian, I believe it’s right to engage and pray and advocate for love in action.
tfjtoday1 June 2016 at 2:45 pm
I wonder my previous post may sound a bit too long and unorganized. (hence deleted, I suppose.). However I would once again encourage you to take a look at the other side of the Old Testament teachings that you’ve massively cited in this post.
Here’s an excerpt from the article written by Dr Calvin L. Smith
In short, inclusion of the alien within the house of Israel was conditional upon various requirements and religious observances. For example, the alien was expected to observe certain religious and other laws (Ex 12:19, Lev 16:29, 17:12, 17:15, 18:26, 24:16, Num 19:10, Deut 26:11, 31:12, Ezek 47:23). Moreover, if he was to become a member of the congregation and participate in the Passover feast (a key aspect of being an Israelite), he was to be circumcised (Ex 12:48-9, Num 9:14). In fact, certain religious observances were expected not just from the alien but also the sojourner (Ex 12:45, 20:10, Deut 5:1). So as we can see, biblical Israel practiced an integrationist rather than a multicultural model.
Thus, aliens who joined the congregation of Israel were to leave their people, nation, and religion and become, to all intents and purposes, an Israelite, as so eloquently expressed in those words of Ruth the Moabitess to her mother-in-law Naomi: “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16).
It is very clear that the Old Testament law can never be applied to today’s refugee crisis in a way you and other “welcome” campaigners are doing. The Mosaic law expects aliens to adopt almost all of religious, cultural and social norms held by native population of the host community. If they failed to do so, they would have been punished, expelled or, perhaps executed when their offenses were grave.
And in reality, things are completely other way around. Many of host communities in Europe are adopting the norms of Muslim societies, namely, the prohibition of pork, segregation by sex, dress code for women, and self-censorship of expressions that might be blasphemy against Mohammad. And if a native failed to pay due respect to Muslim culture, he or she is accused of being Islamophobe and punished by media or sometimes by “shariah police,” or even executed when his or her offence against Islam was grave (e.g., Theo Van Gogh, Charlie Hebdo, etc.).
So single issue must be whether the New Testament teachings tell us to welcome refugees or not.
And here’s the crucial problem. If the mass influx of the Middle Eastern and other Third World immigrants leads to social instability as we see today, including a rise in crime rate, an increase in terror attack, and excessive burdens on social welfare system , can “refugee welcome” campaigns be an act of love?
No. I think “welcome” campaigners are SINNING against their immediate neighbors, who are the native population of their countries. They are also sinning against their children who will inescapably face the threat of crime wave, rape epidemics, potential terror attacks and the ethnic cleansing of their own.
Adriel Booker7 June 2016 at 9:44 am
No, your previous comment wasn’t deleted. I have comment moderation turned on to prevent spam comments, so that I can always read the comments before publishing and make sure they’re from real people (not bots). I usually only do that once a week or so.
I don’t agree with your conclusions (obviously), but as long as you comment respectfully, I don’t mind opposing views in this space. Obviously this issue is very important to you. It is to me as well.
Celine29 August 2016 at 12:16 pm
Thanks for these scriptures as I have been looking up scriptures to back up my theory that we should welcom in asylum seekers and refugees. Another interesting fact is that Article 14 of The Universal Declaration of Human rights says that Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
The Australian National Anthem also says that “For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share”. I hope that gets put into practice and not just blindly sung etc.
Any way thank you.
Adriel Booker11 October 2016 at 12:14 pm
I hope so too, Celine. x
Curt14 December 2016 at 1:42 pm
The most important of all of these passages are those (numbers, Deuteronomy) that require the same standard of conduct by both the citizens of the land AND the foreigner/refugee. These seem to be overlooked , but make all the difference. I think no true Christian has a problem with showing hospitality to law-abiding refugees…however, many coming in illegally do not want anything to do with our legal system and create their own standards for behavior. These should be subject to the punishment of the law just as a citizen who is in violation. In a modern society, this includes proper vetting before they are allowed entry. This take on refugees makes us prudent, both wise as serpents as well as being innocent as doves concerning this issue.
Adriel Booker2 January 2017 at 3:45 pm
Thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts Curt. I agree that proper vetting and abiding by the laws of the land are absolutely important. I would also say that Christian hospitality doesn’t depend on such things, at least by the example of Jesus. He offered his whole life to the whole world, no matter how we conduct ourselves, treat others, or accept or reject him. That’s extravagant love in its highest form.
Diane30 March 2017 at 1:23 pm
You can’t just cite scripture out of context and twist it to mean what you want.
Michael Meissner23 November 2017 at 2:02 am
Thank you for your heart for refugees. God has put a similar stirring on our heart here in Texas…which has led us to start our own non-profit and build a home where we will be welcoming in refugees and sharing with them the hospitality and the grace of Jesus Christ as they begin their new life here in the U.S. Please pray for us at Abba’s House as we begin this new venture. I look forward to reading more about your journey and work as well.
Adriel Booker25 January 2018 at 10:42 am
God bless your work, Michael!