Evangelical Church: In the wake of banning refugees, what do you believe?

If you spent your teens years in an evangelical youth group, you know about the 10/40 window. As I have very poor spacial awareness, maps and globes never meant much to me, but I knew that the box between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator with huge amounts of poverty and no access to Jesus. At least, that is what I learned when I was being implored to pray for these people. And I did pray for these people.

In stadiums full of other kids learning about Jesus and just how sold out we had to be for him, I learned about muslim countries and how going there for Jesus might just be the death of us. I learned we should do it anyway. I was told that the gospel was worth my life, that Jesus may call me into dangerous places. I was told that I should follow Jesus no matter the cost. I pledged that I would and I meant it.

I went to college and majored in English education so that I would have a skill to rely on and a good cover to get into countries closed to christians. I joined bible studies that also had a 10/40 bent. I heard stories of people praying on the sly in restaurants while pretending they were commenting on the pictures on the walls. I read emails and updates where everyone’s names had been changed to the names of candy bars and I spent weeks and months faithfully praying for “Kit Kat” and “Reese Cup” to know the grace of God.

I was told that God could and would change the hearts of these people, if we were only willing to follow Jesus no matter the cost, God promised that it would be worth it. God would make a way when there seeme to be  no way.  I believed it. I still do.

The same churches that taught me to love my global muslim neighbors as myself, before myself, are the same churches who categorically voted for a president who has made good on the campaign promise of a muslim ban. He said he would ban muslims from entering this country and he has. Many who sent me to my knees, weeping on behalf of the 10/40 window are complicit in sending those same people to die in the very places we begged God for access to.

The muslim people that we knew only God could reach are in our airports, and the church is complicit in turning them away. You asked me to give my life. You told me it would be worth it eternally, and now you cry SAFETRY FIRST to mostly women and children who are desperately looking for safety.

The same church that told me that people were dying eternally damned because no one was willing to risk their life to tell these people about Jesus, is the same church that is telling me it isn’t safe for these women and children to be in our neighborhoods. I thought following Jesus was worth the risk.

You wonder why the millenials, even those raised in your churches, are exiting your pews en masse. It isn’t because we didn’t believe what you were saying. It is because we did. We believed you. You said, go do something dangerous for God and we said YES! But when it was your turn to welcome these people you said it was too  dangerous. We still want a Jesus who is worth following no matter the cost.

The evangelical church told us that souls were on the line, that eternal life was at stake. But the evangelical church was willing to elect a president who staked his claim on banning muslims. The church voted for that. You with your big T Truth and your make Godly choices, you decided that refugee banning was worth it.

My theology has moved quite a bit since those days. I am now a proud member of a mainline liberal congregation. I go to a liberal seminary and find my current beliefs well represented there.

But I will never forget my theological mother tongue. I know the evangelical message well. It introduced me to God and the power of Jesus Christ, and for that I will always be grateful.

As a daughter of the evangelical church I am asking: What do you really believe? If you really believe that anyone who hasn’t accepted Jesus Christ as their savior is eternally damned, wouldn’t you demand that any muslim who wants to can come in? Wouldn’t it be worth whatever risk there may be for the chance to introduce this muslim to Jesus?  This is what you told me. I believed it. My question now is, do you?





14 thoughts on “Evangelical Church: In the wake of banning refugees, what do you believe?

  1. Dear Abby
    Thank you for your strong, straight and truth telling post! I still cannot believe what is happening in America and yes, when I read that Donald Trump’s biggest voter block was evangelical Christians, I was deeply shocked. Because Christian missionary work has all but died worldwide, God is sending these people out to come under the blessings of Christianity. But now they are stopped because of fear! We all know where fear originates, not from God. Since your and my youth camps the lifestyles of evangelicald have changed into less prayer and supporting missions and more pleasures of the world and lost their strong witness.
    It is a sad day, not only for America but the world.
    But I believe the bigger picture is God is at work and major shifts are going to take place and Christians from all denominations are going to have hard choices to make or pay the price of their sins. Bgecause sin has consequences! ,
    Thank you for your brave, truthful post. Bless you .
    In Christ

  2. First of all, I think you need to get the correct information before making these kinds of decisions. Trump never once said no Muslims in the US, he said, we need to look into the ISIS held (Syria) Muslim lands and see who is wanting to get in. We need to see what is going on with these countries as opposed to flinging open the doors and letting anyone in.

    You are saying we should just fling open the doors and allow Muslims in. The man who shot up the CA company party was a man who came to the US but he had terrorist ties. It was proven that he slipped through the system and now people are dead. So do we just take a chance and hope no one dies and let everyone in? Or do we allow Homeland Security to vet each person carefully as opposed to the questions given to the man who shot up the company party was asked: Do you want to commit terrorist acts? Ummm… no, not at all!!

    France and Germany have both seen problems with ISIS members sneaking in. Syria has already bragged about sending in ISIS members with refugees and here we stand wanting to fling open the doors. So do we hope and pray no one dies or should we be smart and look into the problem?

    It’s not a question of we refuse to let Muslims in b/c we hate Islam, Trump never said that, he said we need to examine Syria and see who is coming in from THAT country. Muslims are still welcomed in and they are still coming in and will come in, but as for Syria, well, let’s just see who is on the list and who wants in and why. Or unless you want more shootings?

    • Hi there – I wondered if you would consider the following critique of what you’ve said in defence of Trump’s latest bill.
      1) I notice that you seem to conflate ‘muslims’ and ‘terrorists’ easily. This is the equivalent of equating ‘christians’ with Hitler (who at least claimed he was a Christian). We need to be careful not to tar millions of people with the same brush.
      2) re Syria. The refugees from Syria – both Muslim and Christian – are fleeing for their lives from IS. I find it remarkable that one would look at the (mainly women and children) fleeing extremist murderers and assume that they must be extremist murderers.
      3) The US already has a very thorough vetting system, and people have in fact complained about just how hard it is to get in to America already.
      4) if the terrorist threat is really what motivates Trump, why these countries in particular, and not other countries which have had Al Quaeda or IS connections? It is interesting that there are other Muslim countries not included in the ban, that coincidentally are places where Trump has major business interests. Are you really sure that Trump is acting in the interests of America and its citizens? Are you convinced of the security threat? If you are fearing death by terrorists, are you also campaigning for restriction in gun laws? Do you know that in 2014 33 people in the US died from terror attacks but 33, 599 died from gun violence in the US?

      Abby’s challenge still stands – should the church view Muslim people – the millions across the world, and in particular those fleeing for their lives from IS regimes – as a dangerous threat or people to love?

  3. This article from Newsweek pretty much explains what is bothering Trump about refugees.

    On a crisp morning last October, 198 migrants arrived on the Greek island of Leros, all of them seemingly desperate people seeking sanctuary in Europe. But hiding among them were four men with a very different agenda.

    The four were posing as war-weary Syrians — all carrying doctored passports with false identities. And they were on a deadly mission for the Islamic State.

    Two of the four would masquerade as migrants all the way to Paris. There, at 9:20 p.m. on Nov. 13, they would detonate suicide vests near the Stade de France sports complex, fulfilling their part in the worst attack on French soil since World War II. http://www.newsweek.com/how-isis-smuggles-terrorists-among-syrian-refugees-453039

    Is this what you want? Terrorists to detonate suicide bombs in a stadium? A dance club? A hospital? To think this would never happen is like saying terrorists would never put plans into buildings. Well …. they did. This is what Trump wants to stop. Not the women and children who want a new life, but the idiots who want to kill others.

  4. Abby – you did good. *drop the mic*
    I found this utterly compelling. Sadly, the comments are showing me that some still refuse to listen. But keep speaking. You’re speaking truth.

  5. At the risk of sounding ‘old fashioned’ I am going to weigh in here. I think I felt a lot of anger in your writing and it is somewhat disturbing to read your words.
    I often have an edge in my writing at the risk of making others uncomfortable. So I can identify.
    But I think your strong premises need to take a deep breath as we venture into the future. There is no way one can plop all Evangelicals into one pot, because they come from so many backgrounds. Some, like you, grew up with the lessons of your faith and scripture that was demonstrated in pictures, words and songs. And yes, the point was to point one to Jesus. And yes, some of it stuck and some of it was discarded as the world presented its attractions to these numbers. But the idea of Christ for salvation was undeniable. Some of the ‘believers’ came to understand personally the ‘message’ at a later time of life, as was my case. 12 years of religious education never prepared me for the life changing reality of Christ in me.
    Now, as a Christian, Evangelical at that, I have lived through several terms of many Presidents. The past 8 years were often insulting, frustrating, and dark, from my perspective. This past election brought me hope that we would once again get back to the people we were as a country before these past years. The prospect of another ‘same old same old’ was very disturbing.

    In our house, we are rejoicing now that Donald Trump has been elected, and now is doing what he stated during his campaigning. For 8 years there has been apathy, combined with encouraging people to relocate to the USA, with so many people not only coming across over borders, but being flown in and relocated without ANY review of their backgrounds. We have been ‘invaded’ not by refugees just looking for a better life, but by people who have meant us harm. Take some time to review the specifics of the terrorist attacks in our country over the past 8 years, and you will find a chain of events NEVER before experienced in our borders. Talking about the killings by RADICAL Islamic terrorists, or their followers.

    Perhaps at the stage of life I find myself, my perspective is a bit larger than yours, although I respect your opinion in your writing, I strongly disagree. Nothing has been signed nor said that refugees will not be welcomed here, period. What has been done was due to the deluge of humanity that came in undisclosed, undocumented, and for several cities, unexpected. A temporary halt was issued so there is some time to identify people who are here we know nothing about.
    “Bring me your tired and poor,” was a genuine offer, BUT we have had laws and guidelines controlling that. Those laws have not been in effect and even disregarded totally. There has to be understanding and accountability in order to maintain accounting of who is where, if that is even possible. This is, I believe, one of the goals of this new administration. I thank God there are many Christian men and women now in leadership positions.
    This is how it can be written, I am rejoicing, rather than thinking the moves President Trump is taking are going to be so dreadful and unfair to refugees. I hope you can look at a bigger picture, one that strengthens our fiber. To all the people who are here from other countries, you are appreciated. BUT, we know not all are here in peace and for the security. We must have a system that is orderly and rational in accepting any refugee or person hoping for a better life. This is not wrong, this is necessary.

    • Jeanine, I agree with you. Our governement is suppose to be designed to protect us. We, as Christians are to love, pray, give, share the gospel to all. Acts 17:26, God Himself establishes the boundaries. The borders where people should live. I read that in 2011, President Obama stopped Iraq refugees from coming into this country for 6 months. There were no protests then. President Trump closes the borders for 90 days and look how everyone is acting. People need to read and listen to what President Trump is planning and stop listening to mainstream media, who are against him and anything that he does.

  6. This is so powerful, Abby. I’m on the other side of the world, but it seems that to step out in your context, with your brand of faith is an act of courage. Thank you for being brave.

  7. OK so I pretty much despise the word Evangelical. I myself was shocked to see so many high profile Christian leaders be supportive of a candidate without also demanding accountability. Neither choices were godly.
    But it wasn’t just Evangelicals that hot Trump elected. Your point of giving Jesus no matter what the cost is spot gospel on. And the immigration process here is long and lengthy.
    We realistically have more danger from the largely unenforced southern border of those who would do us harm , just based on numbers. There will always be refugees in the world. Why we as a country and the UN as a entity do not have a plan of delegated action in place beforehand is astounding. We have hurricanes where I am from. The plans are laid, updated and implemented and successful as possible each year. Not perfect or 100 percent effective, but not due to lack of preared planning . I’m hoping the ban truly is 120 days for some reassesment. There have been bans before under the past administration and those before, but hardly a peep of outcry. I’m just over the protests. I’m up for a gotest. I hope that for every outcry there are offerings of our home, time, money and for every hashtag we post there are hands we are willing to hold, personal action we get our lives messy with; because if not we are no different than those who cry to ban. We just cry out or cry against those who don’t but we are still looking for someone else to handle it. And I can be a distracted coward in that regard because when it comes down to it Jesus asked me to feed the poor, clothe the naked and look after widows and orphans. So my new word, gotest, is just that -will I go, will I embrace this test? Here on my home soil or another. Accountability begins in our own hearts .

  8. Pingback: The Church and mixed messages | Pondering Nomad

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