Evangelicals Desire to Love and Care for Palestinian Refugees - Guest Post
Confession time: I am an Evangelical. Yet my church in Denver recently held a forum on immigration. It was well attended and empowered us to push through the noise and act on biblical instruction to care for the foreigner: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34) I confess that at times I’ve doubted that was possible in today’s fracas. While sometimes I doubt, more often I seek to foster constructive encouragement like that at my church’s forum.
Evangelicals are often criticized for neglecting Palestinian refugees needs for relief, reconciliation and relationship, the vision of Beirut and Beyond, of which I am a proud member of the board. Evangelicals are defensive under this criticism and have difficulty moving into the complexity of responding to Palestinian refugees. I know the temptation to smush together views on Israel and conservative political views and having trouble retaining a biblical compassion for all bearing God’s image.
While a recent Lifeway Research poll* confirms many Evangelical perceptions, 59% also believe Christians should do more to love and care for the Palestinian people! I find this very encouraging. Will you join me in encouraging a majority of Evangelicals desire to love and care for Palestinian refugees. Evangelicals believe that we are commanded to: Love our neighbor as ourself (Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:25-37) and be peace-makers. (Psalm 34:14, Matthew 5:9, Romans 12:18) So while many issues can be controversial, engaging with and caring for people need not.
Keith Swartley is a founding board member of Beirut and Beyond. He is the creator of the Encountering the World of Islam course and textbook. He and his wife Ethel have lived among, hosted, taught and enjoyed internationals from many cultures for over 30 years.