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Christian Declaration on Caring for Refugees: An Evangelical Response

On December 17, a number of evangelical leaders gathered together to meet about how churches might engage the refugee crisis in a Christlike way. At our meeting, we drafted and signed the following statement:

Impacting nearly 60 million people, the global refugee emergency is a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented size. Never have so many people been recorded as being displaced, put in danger and sent on the move. In Syria alone, more than 13 million children and their parents need humanitarian aid. Nearly 4.4 million have been forced to flee to neighboring countries for safety.

Moments like these are when Christians cannot remain silent and still. In light of this crisis, we commit ourselves and our churches to actively care for and minister to global refugees with mercy and compassion, both here and abroad, based on God’s compelling concern for all people in need and especially refugees.

In light of these concerns, we affirm the following:

Refugees possess the image of God and, as such, are infinitely valuable to God and to us. We are commanded to love our neighbor, and it is our privilege to love refugees. As Christians, we must care sacrificially for the refugee, the foreigner and the stranger. We will motivate and prepare our churches and movements to care for refugees. We will not be motivated by fear but by love for God and others. Christians are called to grace-filled and humble speech about this issue.

In light of these Christian principles, we cannot allow voices of fear to dominate. Instead, we commit to actions of love and compassion for refugees who have been admitted into our nation(s) in refugee status.

We acknowledge that there are genuine security concerns and encourage governments to be stewards of safety, but we also observe that choosing to come to North America as refugees would be among the least effective ways for those who intend to do us harm.

So, as governments oversee matters of security, we will care for the hurting, calling Christians to embrace refugees through their denomination, congregation or other nonprofits by providing for immediate and long-term needs, such as housing, food, clothing, employment, English language classes and schooling for children.

We distinguish that the refugees fleeing this violence are not our enemies; they are victims. We call for Christians to support ministries showing the love of Jesus to the most vulnerable, those in desperate need and the hurting. This is what Jesus did; He came to the hurting and brought peace to those in despair.

Critical moments like these are opportunities for us to be like Jesus, showing and sharing His love to the hurting and the vulnerable in the midst of this global crisis. Thus we declare that we care, we are responding because our allegiance is to Jesus, and we seek to be more like Him, emulating His compassionate care for the most vulnerable.

The document was drafted by the following:

Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of LifeWay Research
Rich Stearns, President of World Vision
Stephan Bauman, President & CEO of World Relief
Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church
Frank Page, CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention
Alton Garrison, Assistant General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God
Jamie Aten, Director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute
Sue Elworth, Vice President of Development, Marketing & Communications of the Willow Creek Association
Paul Ericksen, Interim Executive Director of The Billy Graham Center for Evangelism
Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy & Policy of World Relief
Amanda Bowman, Director of Church Mobilization of World Vision
Micah Fries, Vice President of LifeWay Research

On January 20, we are holding the 2016 GC2 Summit on the Church and Refugees, which I wrote about earlier this week. Please join us on January 20 in Wheaton, Ill., if you can. Click here to learn more about our gathering.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is the Dean of Talbot School of Theology at Biola Univeristy and Scholar in Residence & Teaching Pastor at Mariners Church. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches; trained pastors and church planters on six continents; earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates; and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the Editor-in-Chief of Outreach Magazine, and regularly writes for news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. Dr. Stetzer is the host of "The Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast," and his national radio show, "Ed Stetzer Live," airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates.