Someone asked me about the potential threat of “terrorist infiltration” if we as a nation provide refuge for those fleeing Syria and northern Iraq. Here is my response:
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12.17–21 ESV)
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6.27–36 ESV)
Jesus also addressed perilous times that would come upon his followers after his death and resurrection. These times would include war and persecution. About these times to come, he said:
“…Because of the lawlessness of those days, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)
However, given Jesus’ admonition to love enemies, should we let fear and anxiety about the evils of this world keep us from caring for people in the way Jesus did, who prayed even for those who crucified him? It would be difficult to argue that Jesus and Paul didn’t have a real sense of the threat of extreme violence and enemies. In our case, the reality is that, though it is possible (and perhaps even likely) for some terrorists to pose as refugees, those fleeing Syria and other war torn and devastated regions in the Middle East (and elsewhere) are simply looking for safety and a future for themselves and their families. They, like us, desire a place where they can have “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
If you would like to help with refugees in your area, here is a list of local organizations (it is from 2014) that the State Department uses to facilitate care. In the OKC area, you can contact Catholic Charities or the Spero Project.