Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have urged Christians to love refugees, admonishing the American Church for responding to the refugee crisis from a place of fear, rather than faith.
The American Church's approach to the refugee crisis is "far more American than it is biblical", according to leaders speaking at the Great Commission Summit, a three-day event held at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from March 29-31. This approach is "far more concerned with the preservation of our country than it is with the accomplishment of the Great Commission", it was said.
The Church must look beyond its own politics and concern itself with the 60 million refugees leaving war-torn and impoverished countries such as Syria and Iraq, said David Platt, president of the SBC's International Mission Board.
"I fear that most people in our churches and maybe even in this room are paying very little attention to this – or if we are paying attention to it, we are looking at it through political punditry and partisan debates regarding whether or not we should allow relatively few refugees into our land," Platt said during a sermon on March 31.
"It is a sure sign of American self-centredness that we would take the suffering of millions of people and turn it into an issue that is all about us."
Platt illustrated his point with the image of Boaz welcoming Ruth, a Moabite woman, to his land. His action was not just an example of Godly kindness, but a crucial moment in redemptive history, as part of the lineage that would "lead to the quintessential kinsman redeemer, Jesus Christ", said Platt.
"Our God seeks, shelters, serves and showers the refugee with his grace," he said.
"Whatever response is seen [in our churches] often seems to come from a foundation of fear, not of faith, flowing from a view of the world that is far more American than it is biblical, and far more concerned with the preservation of our country than it is with the accomplishment of the Great Commission."
"Our God has not left the outcast and oppressed alone in a world of sin and suffering, he's come to us and he's conquered for us," he added.
"Brothers and sisters, as followers of Christ, self is no longer our God, therefore safety is no longer our concern. We go and we preach the gospel, knowing that others' lives are dependent on it."
Speaking to students during the summit, John Klaassen, associate professor of global studies at Boyce College, said churches must demonstrate this love by partnering with refugee organisations and adopting families when they arrive in America.
Klaassen, who recently wrote a book titles Engaging with Muslims, said churches can demonstrate love by partnering with refugee organisations and adopting families when they come to the US.
"Most importantly, we teach them the gospel," Klaassen said. "We teach them the gospel by the things that we say and the things that we do."