Much has been made about the current border and refugee issue facing countries around the world. How should Christians respond to the current refugee crisis?
What I am about to say does not reflect my political beliefs, nor am I addressing what I think our policies should be. Rather, I would like to address the matter of the providence of God and the worldwide refugee crisis.
I want to begin by affirming God’s providence regarding where people happen to live. While addressing the philosophers in the Areopagus in Athens, Paul makes a remarkable statement: “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26).
Let’s stop there. The Bible makes it clear that shortly after the flood, God created a separation in the human race. He did so in order to prevent the kind of super society from developing that led to the evil that necessitated the flood. We learn from Scripture that human divisions are God’s idea to keep evil at bay.
With that as a foundation, Paul told the philosophers at Athens that God not only developed various competing civilizations, but that He also governs the extent of a civilization’s influence. This includes its boundaries and the exact geographic location that a civilization should inhabit. Furthermore, God determines how long a civilization should exist before He brings it to an end; this is His doing.
But Paul is not done. Verse 27 adds a fascinating thought, where he says that God so rules that nations, determining their boundaries and the time of their demise, “that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him.” In short, God’s dealings with the nations are so arranged to maximize the number of men and women who would find their way into the kingdom.
With this as background, let’s consider our present world. I am not a missiologist, but I think one would have to be blind not to notice that we are living in the day of historic and seismic shifts. The center of the Christian world has moved from the west to either the global south or in certain places in Asia. The Gospel is growing in places where there was no Gospel growth before.
Furthermore, it also seems clear to me that the western world, once considered to belong to “Christendom,” is so no longer. Europe is now the only continent in the world where the Christian faith is not growing. There can be no doubt that current western values, however one defines them, have been corrosive to the Christian faith. Many of us who live here have prayed that the Lord would send a revival.
All that being said, we are now at a place where the birth rate among secular western democracies is in full decline. Marriage is delayed, living together is encouraged, various sexual expressions are celebrated, abortions are commonplace and the Gospel is hard under siege.
In the meantime, many parts of the world are in upheaval bringing people of vastly different cultures and religions to our door. Many of these people have been prepared by God to receive the Gospel. If God providentially reigns over all things, directing nations and people groups at His will, it is hard to miss that the present moment is from God. Peoples arriving in Canada have been sent here so that they might find their way to God.
I pray for two things. First, I pray that Christians embrace and welcome the cultural groups and refugees that are crowding into our nation. Second, I pray that God would awaken His church from her lethargy and actively witness the Gospel to the cultural groups. Let us be the first to embrace refugees.