America: A Place of Refuge

You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.” Deuteronomy 23:15-16

Those of us who remember the end of the Vietnam War and the fall of Iraq to Isis should not be surprised at the recent return of Afghanistan to Taliban control. Likewise, the recent bombings of Afghan citizens and US soldiers outside the Kabul airport should come as no surprise. Our own Civil War followed by over a hundred years of black American struggle for equal rights proves to us that victory on the battlefield does not guarantee permanent social and political change.

Apparent failure aside, the 20 year long US presence in Afghanistan was justified. The Taliban hosted those who planned the 9-11 attacks on American soil. Their subsequent refusal to hand over those who perpetrated the attacks demanded a strong military response on the part of the US.

Unfortunately 20 years of US military action in Afghanistan left the nation no more secure than our previous actions in Vietnam and Iraq left their peoples. The departure of our military forces from each of these nations ignited flows of refugees. As I write Afghani citizens who allied themselves with our military and our concepts of democracy and religious freedom are fleeing for their lives. Bombings last week outside the Kabul airport suggest worse times are coming. Those bombings bring back other memories of citizens of the Soviet bloc countries risking their lives to get past the Iron Curtain. Like that past generation of Soviet fanatics, extreme Islamist theologians believe Muslim born people seeking to live outside of Muslim dominated regions are worthy of death.

Many Americans believe it is dangerous to accept Muslim refugees. They fear Muslims will some day take over our nation and impose their laws upon us. That is an argument based upon fear and lack of knowledge of what God has commanded and what He is doing. The Gospel preached by Jesus is breaking into Islamic regions. Higher birth levels aside, Islamic civilization and territory has been in retreat for generations. The extreme violence associated with fundamentalist Islamist movements is not a sign of success but of insecurity, loss and desperation. Fear of that violence is why so many Afghani citizens are fleeing their homeland.

We who follow Jesus are constrained by faith to receive the stranger in flight from oppression. We accept what has been given to us in the written Word: widows, orphans and foreign strangers are our neighbors; we cannot refuse to provide refuge to them. Similarly, patriotic Americans are honor-bound to protect those who served alongside our troops during the two decades we attempted to make Afghanistan into a nation more like our own. Those people need our help NOW. There is no shame in fleeing oppression; Matthew 10:23 quotes Jesus counsel to his disciples to flee persecution. Relocate, run as far as necessary to be safe! Whether faithful Christian, American patriot or both, we are duty-bound to receive as our guests and neighbors Afghan citizens seeking to flee our common enemy. Let us not abandon our Afghan allies in their time of need!

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