Andrew Blakely is the son of SLCC elder, Mike Blakely and his wife, Shirley. Andrew serves in the National Guard and has had multiple overseas deployments. He is a graduate of Great Lakes Christian College and is currently a student at Duke University Divinity School. His experience and training give him a unique perspective on the recent Syrian refugee crisis.
Concerning Syrian refugees, primarily for my Christian friends:
Believe me, I understand the safety and logistical issues. I used to personally search people and vehicles as they were coming onto our base in Iraq to ensure that they were not bringing in weapons, explosives, or recording or targeting devices. I have had extremists try to kill me on dozens of occasions. I had a price on my head in both Iraq and the Horn of Africa (and not not just the general one for US personnel; my team was specifically targeted in both locations). I am not against taking reasonable precautions as long as we are still moving forward. For example, toward the end of the Vietnam war, over a hundred thousand Vietnamese refugees were temporarily relocated to facilities in Guam, which served to both get them out of immediate danger and allow for processing.
That said, I have not heard from anyone a Christian argument that would allow us to turn away tens of thousands of people who have suffered horrible violence out of a fear that a small number may turn around and hurt us. Nothing in the gospel allows us to put our own safety ahead of loving others.
Furthermore, these same arguments have been used against immigrants for generations- that they are fundamentally different from us, that they will not adapt to the American way of life, that they might be dangerous. These fears have never materialized on any large scale. Small percentages of any population will act in criminal and anti-social ways, but that is true of all populations. The vast majority of mass shootings in recent years have been carried out by American-born white people. Also, just as a practical matter, it is not hard for an organization with any resources to get people into the US without the need for refugee visas.
From an American perspective, to turn away thousands of refugees who have suffered what these people have suffered is ignorant of history and a betrayal of our best qualities. Do you want the next generation to look back on us and ask, "How could they do that?" in the same way we look back and ask why the US turned away Jewish refugees during the Third Reich? From a Christian perspective, it is against neighbor love (if Samaritans were neighbors to the Jews, Syrians are certainly our neighbors) and Christian hospitality.
(Jesus speaking) " 'For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ " Matt. 25:42-45
Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees who fled to Egypt to escape the slaughter of innocents by Herod. Would you turn them away?