SBC, Evangelical Leaders Urge Christians to Actively Welcome Iraqi, Syrian Refugees

A Syrian refugee feeds his child in front of a fence at the Greek-Macedonian border, while waiting to cross over, near to the village of Idomeni, Greece, December 5, 2015.
A Syrian refugee feeds his child in front of a fence at the Greek-Macedonian border, while waiting to cross over, near to the village of Idomeni, Greece, December 5, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis)

Over 100 leaders from the Southern Baptist Convention and other Evangelical organizations are calling on Christians to welcome Iraqi and Syrian refugees and establish programs at their churches to help resettled refugees get acclimated to their new communities and cultures.

More than 100 Evangelical leaders gathered at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College in Illinois on Thursday and signed onto a declaration calling on Christians to be more compassionate toward Syrian and Iraqi refugees as they seek asylum from the persecution and violence caused by the Syrian civil war and the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group.

The leaders, who represent various denominations, humanitarian groups and other Evangelical groups, explained that as more than 60 million people across the globe and as many as 4.4 million Syrians have fled from their hometowns, "moments like these are when Christians cannot remain silent and still."

"In light of this crisis, we commit ourselves and our churches to actively care for and minister to global refugees with mercy and compassion, both here and abroad, based on God's compelling concern for all people in need and especially refugees," the statement reads.

The resettlement of refugees from Syria has become a hotly debated topic in the United States following the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.

While the Obama administration prepares to let as many as 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. in the next fiscal year, a Pew Research poll from September found that only 31 percent of White Evangelicals supported the decision to allow more refugees into the U.S.

Although the statement admits that there are "genuine" security concerns around refugee resettlement, it continued by asserting that Christians must not be motivated by fear and must affirm that refugees are "infinitely valuable to God and to us" and must "care sacrificially for the refugee, the foreigner and the stranger." The statement calls Christians to "prepare" churches and movements to care for the refugees.

"So, as governments oversee matters of security, we will care for the hurting, calling Christians to embrace refugees through their denomination, congregation, or other nonprofits by providing for immediate and long-term needs, such as housing, food, clothing, employment, English-language classes and schooling for children," the statement explains. "Critical moments like these are opportunities for us to be more like Jesus, showing and sharing his love to the hurting and the vulnerable in the midst of this global crisis."

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