A Christian response to Muslim refugees

Today, Korean people—even Korean Christians—are especially worried about Muslim refugees entering Korea. We say, “Yemeni immigrants have come as fake immigrants! They have been trained to steal our women and to Islamize Korea!” We are concerned that we may lose the most precious and important things about our nation. We respond like Winston Churchill, who said:

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

But this is not God’s way. The center of the God the Father’s heart is his Son, the Lord Jesus. But the Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 5:8 that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In this, God shows us something that we human beings would never otherwise know: God uses what is most precious in order to reach his enemies, so that they might not perish but instead have eternal life. That’s John 3:16.

In the same way, God wants us to use the things that are most precious to us—our “island” (as Churchill would say), our marriages, our own lives—to reach his enemies with his love, so that they might not perish but instead have eternal life. Yes, even if it costs us everything. Because that’s what it cost Jesus, and we are his followers. We love our enemies the same way he loved his: unto death.

As Christians, we must remember that we are not called to fight against Muslims. As the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 6:12:

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

We do not claim that Muslim refugees are harmless and have good intentions for us. We claim they are slaves to sin, wills in bondage, captive to Satan. But we recall what the Apostle Paul told us about ourselves in Ephesians 2: We also were once slaves to sin!

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved…

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

When we see Yemeni refugees, we do not see terrorists who are a threat to our “island”. We see men who were like we once were—sinners, captive to Satan, without hope and without God in the world. We remember that we were once like them, and our heart should break and go out to them. We should say like Paul does in Romans 9:3 that we wish we ourselves could be cut off from Christ if that would somehow help these Muslim refugees to come to know him the way we know him.

Now, we may say, yes, it would be good for the Muslims to come to know Christ. But Korean missionaries can go to Yemen and evangelize them. Korea is too precious to use for this purpose. It is too dangerous. And in this we can recall Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, crying out to the Father (in Matthew 26:39), “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” Father, let there be some other way to reach these Muslims. But we must also recall Jesus’ next words: “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Paul says in Acts 17:26-27,

[God] made every nation of men, to inhabit the whole earth; and He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him.

The lands are his; the people are his; the times are his; he sends people to seek; he determines where they find him. We might say to the Lord, “Lord, let this cup of refugees pass from us; yet not as we will, but as you will.”

The Apostle Paul was himself once Saul, the murderer of Christians. He went to Damascus to murder Christians. But God gave him a vision, and Saul became Paul. Tom Doyle’s book, Dreams and Visions, shares the amazing research that 40% of Muslims who come to Christ do so through dreams and visions. You can read about it in the book. And now we can experience it here in Korea. Who knows why the Yemenis came, or whether they are trustworthy, or whether they, like Saul, have come “breathing threats” against us Christians? To how many of the Yemenis in Jeju has Christ already appeared to in dreams? How many Sauls are in that group who will become Pauls to reach their country, one of the most closed and least evangelized countries on earth?

Just as in every area of our lives we must die to ourselves and be alive only to God in Christ, we must repent of our desire to use our nation to serve our own desires and plans and goals. We must offer it back to God for his use in his appointed times. We must let him move the boundaries as he desires, for his purposes—not as we will, but as he wills.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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5 Responses to A Christian response to Muslim refugees

  1. Alison says:

    Well said. Being a “native” Texan having all “those people” pouring across the border is scary not because of terrorism, but the change in the culture and the strain on social services. And later on political changes. Yet, as a Christian, it is a struggle with my flesh. And to my shame, it should not be. We should throw ourselves into the arms of Divine Providence knowing that God is in control and go and DO His Word. We should see the face of Christ in every person. How easy said than done. For most, it is easier and safer to be caught up in emotions than to be rooted in the Word of God. Thank you, Pastor Foley, for setting things straight.

    • Pastor Foley says:

      Thanks for your kind words and your vulnerability in sharing, Alison. I think you are right that these days especially we Christians are inclined to see human beings as the prime actors in every situation. To trust that God is supremely active–always the prime mover and shaper; to trust that God continues to act today consistent with how he has always acted in scripture and history; and to understand that we are invited in our actions to respond to his–these remain the core elements of biblical faith. May the Lord bless your doing of his word!

      • Alison says:

        Yes, and that self-preservation is not Godly faith, and self-survival is a fake gospel.

  2. Aimee says:

    It is sad to me how often we prize our temporary homes and nations and cultures over God’s enternal Kingdom. Thank you for fleshing this thought out for me so beautifully.

    • tseongyosa says:

      Yes, this is true. Let us be the first to repent of this so that others may say God working strongly through our weakness.

      “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:19-20 ESV)

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