Many of us in Canada and the US had no idea of the extent of the Syrian refugee crisis until Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old boy washed up on the shore of Turkey. He died, along with his five-year-old brother Galib and their mother Rehan, in a desperate attempt to escape to Turkey and then find a way to Canada where they have some family. Why are people so desperate to flee from Syria? The brutality Bashar al-Assad and the resulting civil war left much of the country open to the invasion of the Salafi jihadist militant group known as Daesh (or ISIS). And now the US, UK, Canada and other allies as well as Russia are carrying out bombing missions against Daesh in Syria and Iraq. Here are some quick facts about Syria from World Vision.
- 13.5 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance.
- 4.3 million Syrians are refugees, and 6.6 million are displaced within Syria; half are children.
- Most Syrian refugees remain in the Middle East, in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt; slightly more than 10 percent of the refugees have traveled to Europe.
Perhaps giving shoeboxes filled with toys to poor children is the extent of Franklin Graham's compassion, but the Samaritan for whom he named his organization Samaritan's Purse does much more than that. The travelling Samaritan comes upon a man whom robbers have left beaten and bloodied, laying in a ditch. While the Jewish priest and the upright Jewish man have just walked by him and done nothing, it is a despised biracial Samaritan who shows him compassion and bandages up his wounds. At great personal risk, the Samaritan brings the beaten man into town and pays for his care. (In that culture Jews despised Samaritans so much that bringing the beaten Jewish man into a Jewish town may very well have resulted in the Samaritan being assaulted.) His compassion tells him it is the right thing to do in spite of the risk. And in case you missed the point of Jesus' parable, Franklin, it is the Samaritan who shows us the compassion God has for the needy, the compassion which God has shown to you and calls you to show to others.
As Christians that compassion tells us that helping the Syrian refugees is the right thing to do in spite of any perceived risk. Threatened by a brutal militaristic apocalyptic doomsday group (Daesh), these people have fled their homes and their country and are seeking refuge, but you would have us treat them as the enemy. How dare you flaunt your "Reverend" title and presume to tell Christians and Americans that they too should support Donald Trump's ban on all Muslims. We are not "at war with Islam" as you say in your Facebook post. No, America, Canada, the UK and their allies are fighting against Daesh, a brutal militaristic group which is a small faction of radical Islamic fundamentalism focused on bringing about an apocalyptic doomsday. Given how diametrically opposed we are to Daesh and the horrible things they have done to both Christians and Muslims, can you explain to me in any coherent way why we would not show compassion to the victims of Daesh who have had to abandon their homes and flee from their country? Bringing Syrian refugees to our countries is not only the right thing to do and the humane thing, it is also certainly what the Samaritan would have done. You are responding in fear like the priest and upright man in Jesus' parable, and not with the compassion of the Samaritan.