By George Brodie
Pastor, Revelstoke Alliance Church
I’ve been asked why our church, as Christians, would get involved in helping Muslim refugees. The short answer is: “Jesus was a refugee.”
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a small village a few kilometres outside of Jerusalem. Israel at the time was under Roman rule, and Caesar had issued a decree for all families to go back to their town of origin for a census in order to raise more taxes for Rome. Thus, Joseph and his wife Mary headed back to Bethlehem.
The Jewish puppet King Herod, motivated by ancient prophesies, sent his soldiers off to murder all baby boys in that village. As the gospel of Matthew says “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.”
So Jesus’ life began as a part of a refugee family fleeing political persecution in the Middle East.
In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preached the following challenging message: “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbour’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.”
It is one thing to show love and compassion to your family, friends and neighbours; it is a whole other level of compassion that Jesus requires of his followers — to love those who are ‘different,’ ‘other’ or even ‘enemy.’
Likewise, in Jesus’ parable about The Good Samaritan, the hero of that story was a non-Jewish man who helped a person of a different religion and race at his own expense. Jesus concluded that message that we should “go and do the same.”
The very heart of the gospel message is that God loved us and sent Jesus to die a substitutionary death for our sins. He loved us while our sins separated us from Him.
So as Christians, the Revelstoke Alliance Church is looking forward to helping support the refugee family (both financially and in other forms of support) who will be coming here sometime in 2016, whatever faith that family is. Because of Jesus.
George Brodie is a member of the Revelstoke for Refugees Society and pastor of the Revelstoke Alliance Church