Back in September I began feeling alarmed at the refugees coming out of Syria. Like many people, I felt distress over the young boy that was found washed up on the shores of Greece and the other photos of the refugees appearing on the news and on the internet. I thought about my personal difficulties and those of my family. My husband has been unemployed or underemployed for nearly three years now.
I thought about some of the difficult things. The times when my husband only ate one meal a day because we hadn’t received the promised pay from contract work. I thought about how my picky eater kids suddenly would eat whatever was put in front of them because they were very hungry. I thought about how the kids wore shoes that were too small or worn out or the wrong type. And I knew that compared to these refugees, we have not suffered at all.
I thought of some of the people who have helped us. I thought about the brand new washing machine that showed up at our door just as ours was breaking or about the Santa Claus that showed up on our doorstep on Christmas Eve after I told my little children that Santa did not come to kids whose dad does not have a job. And I knew that these refugees needed angels and they needed them now!
A few days later, I listened to some conservative news radio and heard people saying how we cannot bring the refugees here because there are terrorists trying to get into our country through the refugee program. I heard that again and again over a couple of months. And I felt confused. Shouldn’t we help the destitute no matter who they are?
Later I read that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offered $5 million to help with the refugees. That made me proud to be a part of that Church. And then Paris was attacked and the refugee crises began to be discussed and argued at length. Again I felt confused. Help them. Protect us. Help them. Protect us.
A friend online began a discussion. I started to write my not so sure and confused opinion, when I knew. I knew through the Holy Ghost. Immediately these scriptures came to my mind:
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. (Luke 10:29-37)
No matter the consequences, and there very well may be some, the refugees must be helped. They have been chased from their homes. They have been forced to leave all. Without help they will starve and die. These include father, mother, and children. They include the single and married. They have been robbed and raped and threatened. Sure, there will probably be evil men who use this to hurt more people, but that should not be our primary concern. The Savior gave us His answer of what we must do. We must go and serve with compassion.
The First Presidency issued a statement on Oct 27th urging the Church members to lend assistance to the people fleeing war-torn countries. The letter states: “It is with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of the millions of people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships.” That is our counsel. We can donate money through the Church humanitarian fund. We can find ways to volunteer and when the government makes it possible, we can open our homes and hearts to assist them here in our own nation.
No one wants the evil terrorists to win. Yet if we are too afraid to help the people they have tortured, raped, and forced from their homes, in a measure, we have given them a victory.
Before she died, our good friend and Mormon Women Stand editor, Terrie Bitner wrote these words about immigration:
“For Mormons, coming from a premortal life in which we are all God’s children, and then descending from Adam and Eve, we are all family. We are expected to take care of each other, leaving our prejudices and politics behind when there is a humanitarian need. This was the message of the Savior’s parable in the Good Samaritan, where the one who served was serving an ‘enemy,’ according to the culture of his society, and was hated by the listeners for being a Samaritan–and the Samaritan was serving one who was supposed to be his enemy.
‘The Savior revealed the perfect priorities for our lives, our homes, our wards, our communities, and our nations when He spoke of love as the great commandment upon which “hang all the law and the prophets.” We can spend our days obsessing about the finest details of life, the law, and long lists of things to do; but should we neglect the great commandments, we are missing the point and we are clouds without water, drifting in the winds, and trees without fruit.’ (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, You Are My Hands, April 2010 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).”
We will surely continue to hear the debate about whether or not to allow the refugees into our nation, as we do, let us remember the words from this hymn:
“Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
“Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me.” (lds Hymns, A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, #29, verse 7)
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