Over the summer the world witnessed beautiful displays of Germans greeting refugees as they arrived. It was by far the most positive moments of the current crises in Syria. The footage of support for refugees from train stations, and professional soccer matches have become iconic symbols of this time. However, as it is with time, things of this world fade. And as time goes by, and more acts of terror take place, one could wonder if the spirit of the Welcome Culture will fade in Germany?
Since summer, we have witnessed horrible acts of terrorism in France and the United States, and more recent news of Arab or North African men sexually assaulting women in Cologne during the New Year’s Eve celebration. Despite our best efforts, the terror has not stopped.
Further, like the political climate and media inflammation of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States this winter, Germans also face the growing rhetoric of right wing extremist and a media that is hungry to exploit a story. Yet, according to German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA), refugees are no more likely to conduct criminal acts than citizens. Which would make sense, that refugees really come to Germany for protection and peace, not to cause problems. As the battle for good & evil rages on, the media stands by like hungry vultures.
Here are three examples to re-frame this topic.
The town of Madaya, Syria has not seen UN aid since October. This picture is worth a 1000 words. The people Madaya are so desperate they have conceded to emanate death, and they only plea for the world to save their children. It is said, “No one leaves home unless their home is a sharks mouth.” Syria is currently a sharks mouth.
In 2015, the UN received only 58% of the requested funds for the Regional Refugee Plan (supporting refugee camps in: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, & Turkey). The locations many in the Untied States and beyond think is best for these people to stay. It is also important to note that in many of these countries, not only are refugees not receiving necessary funds, they are not allowed to work by the host country. One could hardly say these camps provide Hope for displaced Syrian Refugees.
Meanwhile, in Germany, refugees are settling into their new life. Experiencing holidays like Christmas, and preparing to contribute to the economic strength of the country. They have also found peace and safety for the first time, in a long time. Hope is at hand. “I’ll always be homesick in some way, but in another way this is starting to feel like home.” “In Berlin we are comfortable. The people in Berlin are very nice.” – Khawla Kareem/Syrian Refugee
The life and ministry of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is made up of love, and compassion for others. More importantly, love for the marginalized and rejected. Love for the sojourner, foreigners, and refugees(Leviticus 19:33-34). Because through Him, the lost and broken are found, reunited and saved by God. A God of Love.
Syrian refugees are marginalized by their government, and rejected by many in the west who fear them. So then, “What would Jesus do?”
Mathew 9: 36-38 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
I believe Jesus weeps for these Syrians and is building a fire in our hearts to help them. The Welcome Culture represents that fire in our hearts. I believe God is smiling on the Germans for how they, as a country, have boldly chosen to embrace “the least of these.” Let us pray for the hearts and minds of those in Germany. May God give them strength and discernment. May God richly bless them for boldly taking action in the face of terror. May God grant them protection and peace.
Things of this world will fade, but God’s love will not fade away. The Welcome Culture is Gods love. To quote the great Buddy Holly, “Love is Love and will not fade away.”