Following Jesus, it’s Scary


A lot has been written and a lot has been said about the Syrian refugee crisis. As a pastor I usually keep political conversations to a face to face, one on one conversation, but today I will step into a political issue publicly. The reason? Because it is not a political issue, it’s a biblical issue. Because I know what the bible says about this issue. And because as a child I lived this issue out.

In the 80’s, while the cold war was in it’s death spiral, my family did the unthinkable. We sponsored and hosted a Russian refugee family. While the KGB was alive and well, we opened our home to possible spies from the most hated country in the world.

We fed and clothed this family for 6 months. My dad, a middle school US history teacher, helped them towards citizenship. My mom, a nurse, literally and figuratively nursed them to health. I slept on the floor for 6 months and gave my bedroom to Yelena and Tatiana. There was no family vacation that year, Christmas and birthdays were lean and I often was forced to eat boiled Russian cabbage. It’s not tasty. There was a complete loss of privacy and privilege. Our home was not “our” home anymore.

I remember being bitter. I was in 4th grade. I remember being embarrassed when Yelena and Tatiana would get on the bus with me, dressed with their Russian head coverings, Russian long dresses and hand-me-down winter coats. I remember wanting my room back. I remember wanting my house back, my family back. I remember thinking, “Why would my parents subject our family to this?” I’m sure people in our small rural town were wondering, “Why would they subject our community, even our country to this?” But even in my wondering, I knew the answer:

Because they took the words of Jesus Christ seriously! 

Everyone, please, go and read the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s Luke 10:25-37. I’ll wait.

The Good Samaritan puts himself in danger, great danger. Stopping on a dangerous road, maybe walking into a trap as he approaches the injured man. He pays a high price with money and time. He did this all for the foreigner, for the abused, for the “least of these.”

Jesus ends the story by saying, “Go and do the same.”

But what I am hearing from other christians, including ones who attend my church is. “Go and do the opposite.” Don’t care for the foreigner. Don’t stick your neck out for others. Don’t care for the abused. Don’t care for the least of these. And it is breaking my heart.

I understand this Syrian refuge thing has a lot of layers to it. Yes, it is possible that a terrorist may sneak into the country as a refugee. I think that is a remote possibility, made a very remote possibility by our government doing their due diligence during the immigration process. And really,  I do understand there is more than a little fear about this; because I have it too. But as a follower of Jesus I don’t make decisions out of fear, I make them out of love. We start and we end with love. We do everything in our power to be the “good neighbor” and that is scary.

Following Jesus is a scary thing. If you are not scared to follow Jesus, you haven’t really unearthed all that following Jesus requires of you.

About the Author
Before becoming the lead Pastor of Valley, Craig was the family Pastor at Valley for three years. The decade before, God used him in youth and family ministry as well as camping ministry in great state of Washington. Craig loves to teach deep truths about God in ways that are understandable, life changing and sometimes funny. He is also passionate about encouraging Jesus-followers to invest in the lives of friends and neighbors here in BV and around the world…not to make a point, but to make a difference. Craig met his wife Diana in third grade and they were great friends growing up. God has blessed Craig and Diana with two girls, Mia and Lynn, and two boys, Cody and Jace. Craig enjoys outdoor pursuits of all kinds, but backcountry skiing is his favorite. Craig loves God, Diana, his family, the Church, and wilderness – in that order.
  1. Michael Cox Reply

    I think it is probably a knee jerk reaction that many people have due to wanting to be safe. I also like to know that I am safe in my community. In light of that, let’s not judge the other regarding their stand, but rather let our light shine more brightly. Light runs darkness away. some people just need to have more of that light in them. The only way I know is to love them and let them know they are not rejected for what they believe. I stand on the side of compassion for the widows, orphans and refugees. This is the road we are to walk, but not all will walk with us.

  2. Randy Harker Reply

    Thank you Craig for putting this out there. On a personal level, as a pastor, I have concerns for the safety of my family, my congregation and my country, but I am committed to fearlessly following Jesus; especially on this issue. In the end, the gospel is more powerful than any hate. If every refugee were an undercover jihadist, we would have more opportunity to preach Christ to them; what if that is what God is doing? You are absolutely right in how you frame the charitable Christian aspect of this subject. I struggle on the political side; I do not believe our government is doing proper due diligence; they’ve really said as much if you listen carefully. We have an obligation as citizens to voice our concerns about that, as well, and not just to complain or appear “hateful”, but to affect public policy. It is biblical to be beneficent, but it is also biblical to use wisdom. Is it wise to sit quietly like sheep on the national security side of this issue? Are these two points at odds with one another? Your post has really helped me see a side of this more effectively than I ever have before, and I honor you and thank you for putting it out there. God bless you and your church my brother!

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