Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.


“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

– Portion from The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus, inscribed at the foot of The Statue of Liberty

Today, a photo was released of Donald Trump with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Secretary Kobach is holding in his hands a document entitled “Department of Homeland Security: Kobach Plan for First 365 Days”. We know this because he failed to place the document inside the folder he is also holding, thus revealing its contents to the camera. A quick zoom and you can see a good portion of the plan, straight from the man being considered for the role of Secretary of Homeland Security.

I’m going to skip over the blaring irony that the potential Secretary of Homeland Security is posing with such a document visible in a photograph, and instead I’m going to focus on one particular bullet point on the accidentally shared plan:

“Reduce intake of Syrian refugees to zero using authority under the 1980 refugee act.”

Obama accepted around 12,500 Syrian refugees in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, of about 100,000 refugees total. Trump’s plan is to bring in zero. I’m unaware of what will become of those already here.

With three days until Thanksgiving, I need to declare how thankful I am to be lying in a bed in a safe home in a safe neighborhood in a safe country. I am exceedingly privileged and blessed to have the luxury of ‘safe’. But I have to say, Americans and Christians have turned safety into an idol, and safety is not what Christ has called us to.

A radio interview aired today on BBC World News of a mother in Aleppo, desperately describing how she is stuck in the city and doesn’t know how to get out. Audible in the background is gunfire and bombs. This is the hell in which Syrians are living. Tears came instantly when I saw the boy, a victim of a chlorine gas attack ask, “Miss, will I die?” It’s been one too many radio interviews and one too many torturous videos. To quote Brooke Fraser, “Now that I have seen, I am responsible.”

Last weekend, I sat on the beach watching the sunset, eating oysters and drinking wine, laughing with my friends. It was beautiful, but there comes a point when the contrast in one’s life to our brothers and sisters in Syria becomes so blaring, so stark; that you grow sickened by the luxury of your own existence, and sickened by the adamancy of your country to protect your ability to suck oysters on the beach to the extent that people desperately in need of help are being largely ignored and barred from “OUR” safety.

I’m tired of hearing about the inherent dangers of accepting Syrian refugees when the danger THEY face moment by moment is imminent – a true matter of life and death. We are sending the clear message, “Our lives are more important than your lives, and our safety is more important than your safety.” I am an American, but far before that, I am a follower of Christ, a citizen of this world, and a sister to my fellow man; with a job to find the exiled and the unwanted and to tangibly help them. Today, there is no one less wanted than the Syrian refugee. I want them.

In Biblical times, the enmity between the Samaritans and Jews was fierce. It was five hundred years in the making. Hatred is the appropriate word for how these two groups viewed each other. Yet, when Jesus was asked by an expert of the law, “Who is my neighbor?” He didn’t answer, “The nice family living next store!” Jesus, as He always does, confounds us yet again with a call to something greater. A call to audacious, offensive love. The kind that breaks down barriers between people groups who hate one another.

Is this screaming Christian vs. Muslim to you yet? Oh, good. Because Syrian refugees and oppressed Muslims are precisely, exactly the Jew lying bleeding and dead on the side of the road, and we Americans, in our refusal to help them, are actively living out this story as the Priest and Levite who cross to the other side of the road to pretend as if no one is having the shit bombed out of their city, with doctors fleeing town, and people starving within, and convoys full of aid being bombed so that literally no help is reaching these people.

“Bringing them here poses too many risks,” we say. We, living in a country built on rescuing the homeless, tempest-tossed and emulating a religion that calls for Samaritans to tend to the broken Jews on the side of the road, are being cowards. And we’re cheating the world of the love of Jesus in the process. Hoarding it for ourselves and our precious safety.

I will do whatever it takes to stand in solidarity with what Syrians and Muslims and ALL marginalized groups are facing right now – be it a safety pin on my shirt, a hijab on my head, or a freakin’ ticket straight to Aleppo. If I sit here and do nothing any longer, I’m going to scream. I want ideas and actions, so if you have any of those, please tell me, because I’m ready to get off my privileged ass and start living the words of Emma Lazarus and Jesus Christ.

Matthew 25:35-40 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”


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