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A Letter From Phil: On The Current Refugee Situation

From time to time we post a letter from Phil intended to provide guidance to Vineyard pastors and congregations as they respond to challenging issues affecting our churches across the country.


Phil Strout

National Director of Vineyard USA

Vineyard USA

Extending the Kingdom of God through church planting and missional living.



A Note From VUSA Communications

From time to time we post a letter from Phil intended to provide guidance to Vineyard pastors and congregations as they respond to challenging issues affecting our churches across the country. This letter, written in regard to the current refugee situation and immigration ban, is intended to serve our leaders and members of Vineyard churches with fresh perspective and encouragement. 
Jan. 31, 2017

Dear Friends,

Many American Christians today know the Vineyard Movement as an association of churches that, as stated in our core values, leans “…toward the lost, the poor, the outcast, and the outsider with the compassion of Jesus” (Core Values & Beliefs, p. 14).
 
We do so in obedience to the command of Scripture as we engage both our empathy and our resources to ease the plight of the marginalized, the dehumanized, and those in need of refuge.
 
“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and 
loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”
Deuteronomy 10:18
 
For the Vineyard, the plight of the world’s refugees is, and must be, a vital concern of our local church communities. We seek to live out, and live within, Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom of God. Many of our churches already work with refugees and know how difficult their backgrounds have been, how genuine their aspirations are today, and how positive their contributions continue to be to their respective communities.
 
In accord with the Scriptures, we as Christians believe the eternal Kingdom of God supersedes the framework of contemporary American politics, and at the same time compels us to be good citizens (Rom. 13:1-7) who pray for our leaders in government (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
For these reasons:
  • We can choose to act toward refugees with empathy and attentive compassion. We want to build bridges to those in need, and can choose bridge-building language in all our communications as believers in Christ, as Vineyard churches, as individuals on social media, and in any arena in which we are given a voice.
  • We can choose love over fear as we acknowledge that those who support the immigration ban reference a fear that Americans will not be safe. But we believe love is greater than fear. This enables us to love and serve those Jesus taught us to consider the “least of these.”
  • We can love all people, including our current President, as we serve those Jesus taught us to consider the “least of these.”
A letter, affirmed by the leadership of the NAE (National Association Of Evangelicals) and other organizations, summarizes my perspective on the current, temporary moratorium on the receiving of refugees by the United States. I would affirm this call to action to our President, Vice President, and government officials. [NAE letter].
Standing with refugees, and facing the necessary challenges this can precipitate, is a Kingdom action. As Christians, we must be eager to remember the poor and displaced, as Paul did, as we honor Christ (Gal. 2:10). It is our mandate to love, and to receive with open arms, those in need of help.
 
Blessings on you and your church community as you respond with wisdom and courage to the challenging events of our time.
 
For the greater Glory of God and the well-being of people,
 
Phil Strout
National Director, Vineyard USA