Pastors and ministry leaders like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, David Platt and Richard Stearns recently spoke out exhorting Believers to do their part to help refugees at the GC2 Summit hosted in Illinois. You can live-streamed the sessions today.
The conference will focus on the refugee crisis and feature sessions with pastors and relief group leaders about the urgent and vital need for the Church “to get involved and help in meaningful ways,” according to Christian Post.
Rick Warren shared about Saddleback Church’s continued commitment to helping refugees. He said we must obey this call to love and help to fulfill the Great Commission.
Warren said, “Jesus never got angry at irreligious people. He only got mad at people who should know better. All of the woes in Matthew 23 and Luke 11 are for religious people. And that’s why the common people and the street people loved Jesus. The only people who had a problem with Jesus were the religious ones. When Jesus saw people taking advantage of the poor, he got angry.”
“The largest refugee crisis in our lifetime right now is going on, and people are ignoring it. Actually, they are closing down the borders. I have been to some of the largest refugee camps in the world, but have never seen anything like this,” Warren continued.
“Why must we care about these refugees? Why must we care about foreigners? Why must we care about immigrants? What the Bible sometimes calls aliens, foreigners, strangers in the land? Because God commands it. All throughout Scripture, God says you are to treat people who are out of their country kindly.”
Warren ends by encouraging Believers toward the Great Commission saying we must “love what Jesus loves, we have to be indifferent to what Jesus is indifferent to, and we have to be angry at the things Jesus gets angry about. And we have to sacrifice for what Jesus sacrificed.”
David Platt shared how Jesus himself was a refugee forced to another country because of “a murderous king,” and that we must take care of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“And Acts 17 says God is doing it all for a reason — that people might seek Him, feel their way toward Him, and find Him,” Platt said.
He continued, “Our God aims to be sought, found, and enjoyed by all the peoples in the world, and He oversees their travels toward that end. In His goodness, God even turns the tragedy of forced migration into the triumph of future salvation.”
Like Jesus, we must choose mercy and justice. Platt said, “This God is not distant from us, God is not detached from the people we are, and the pain we experience; God is present with us. He is no stranger to suffering, He is familiar with our pain. He has not left the outcast and the oppressed alone. In a world of sin and suffering, God has come to us, and He has conquered for us.”
Bill Hybels spoke to pastors and church leaders. He said, “One of the most important things in the life of a leader is to live submitted enough to the Holy Spirit, that on a fairly regular basis, you get your heart wrecked over something, that you then bring with passion and sincerity to your church.”
He loves seeing when the church stands up and acts on behalf of refugees. He encouraged listeners to pray that God set their hearts on fire again in a “second conversion” where the Holy Spirit moves us to care deeply for what God cares for.
Hybels said, “When you first become a Christian, God gives you a new heart. God increases your capacity for love, to wrap your head around more than just one issue in your church and in your life.”
“I just hope and pray you make sure it fires up in you first, not just conceptually, but deeper than that.” His hope is for “compassion and justice” to become “an opportunity for God to expand our hearts.”
Richard Stearns, World Vision’s president, said we must look beyond politics and geography to see “the faces of the people” who are suffering.
Stearns said, “We will fail to see these individuals made in the image of God as mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles. We will put a label on them — we will label them refugees, migrants, Muslim; label them with something that allows us to take an entire class of human beings that God created and write them off or put them on a shelf somewhere where we don’t have to look at them, we don’t have to think about them, and we can treat them as a class instead of as individual human beings.”
He then shared a profound and heart wrenching letter a 10-year-old Muslim girl sent him whose Syrian father had been killed. Stearns read:
“Peace be to you, I am talking to you on behalf of the Syrian children, I am calling on you, the people of the other world, have you ever thought of the children of Syrian? Syria is in pain. Syria is bleeding. Syria is crying for her children. Her children were her candles, and they have faded out. We are crying, and Syria is crying blood.”
He challenged the audience listeners “to be an answer to this little girl’s desperate cry for help.”