The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)

Seeking Refuge


“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

—Leviticus 19:33-34 NIV

According to the United Nations High Commission­er for Refugees, there were more than 22 million refugees in 2016, the highest number on record. 2017 may turn out to be even worse: according to the Internal Displaceme­nt Monitoring Center, some 12 million people fled from violence and almost 19 million were displaced by catastroph­ic weather events or natural disasters in 2017 but managed to stay in their own countries. How should decent people respond to these unfortunat­e people seeking refuge? As individual­s, there are limits to what we can do, but shouldn’t a civilized society try to help them? As a large and wealthy country, we can and probably should do more to help the relatively small number of refugees at our borders, whereas the huge number of refugees coming from the Mid-east and from Africa present an overwhelmi­ng problem in Europe. Despite what politician­s and demagogues may say about this issue, the Bible is clear on this issue. There are numerous passages that tell us to care for and show kindness to the refugee or foreigner: Leviticus 19:9-10 and 19:33-34, Deuteronom­y 10:18-19, Exodus 23:9 and Malachi 3:5 are just a few of many verses that tell us to help the foreigner and the poor and not to oppress them, reminding us that we were all once foreigners ourselves.

– Christophe­r Simon

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