What made this challenge a risk was its timing:
- Less than three months after Muslim extremists carried out a series of coordinated terror attacks in Paris.
- Less than two months after Muslim sympathizers of ISIS opened fire in San Bernadino, CA.
- Just one month after refugees so generously welcomed by Germany returned the favor by allegedly sexually assaulting hundreds of German women.
- Just one day before Iowa's caucuses and the start of the Presidential Primary election season, with its polarized and publicized debate on this issue, and Donald Trump's pronouncement still ringing in our ears (like it or not) amid the cheers of thousands.
Let's face it. The refugee crisis will not be solved overnight.
As a nation, we do not see eye to eye on this issue.
And yet, I felt compelled to speak. Politics aside, the church is called to welcome the stranger.
As I sat waiting for my turn with the microphone, Sarah stood up with an announcement. Her arms were full of towels and she carried a plastic grocery bag laden with toothbrushes, soap, and combs. She issued a challenge of her own, calling for the collection of funds and supplies such as these . . . to be given to refugees.
I relaxed. Clearly the Spirit was already at work.
At the close of my message (an abbreviated version of which is here), Pastor Kevin stood and addressed the congregation, thanking me for my message and sharing that he had already offered to have refugees move in with his own family.
Beautiful. Already the congregation was mobilizing to help refugees far and near, refusing to allow campaign rhetoric define or limit their faithful obedience to God's call. I merely reinforced what the Spirit was stirring in their midst.
The hands and feet of the gospel cannot be bound.