Robert Goes to Washington!

Robert Fuqua on January 28, 2017 Comments (0)

Robert Goes to Washington March for Life 2017

A blog post on why I see refugees as a pro-life issue

I returned today from DC where I participated in the 44th annual March for Life.  I was in Washington to attend the 2nd annual Evangelicals for Life conference, hosted by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Focus on the Family.  I was honored to have the event organizers request the use of my recent video documenting a refugee’s reunion with his family at DFW airport, after being stuck in a refugee camp for 4 years, while his wife and 3 children were given asylum in Texas.

The video introduced a panel last night, discussing faith-based response to the refugee crisis, ironically only a few hours after Trump signed his controversial refugee ban at the Pentagon across town, surrounded by his military advisors who had already advised him that the executive action would fuel ISIS efforts to radicalize moderate Muslims. 

These moderate Muslims happen to be the same ones with whom God has given us an incredible window of opportunity for the gospel, both in our own neighborhoods and abroad.  And, obviously Trump’s actions have impeded their access to the gospel and our access to them.  Whether you agree or not with Trump’s advisors who warned that his actions would jeopardize our nation’s security and compromise our military endeavors on the front lines in the war on terror, sadly the fact remains, his actions Friday have a detrimental effect on the war for the hearts and souls of those lost and dying having never heard the Truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the ONLY hope for the nations. (Matthew 12:21)  Do we stop trying to reach them with this hope?  Absolutely not!  It just means it gets harder, and many more may never hear.

For those of you who’ve followed and supported our work with orphans for the past 20 years, perhaps you’re wondering why Robert seems to have waxed political.  Well admittedly, it can be a fine line, but if you’ll allow me a minute or two to hear my heart, I’ll try my best to spare you the political rhetoric.  I assume you can already tell from what you’ve read that the current refugee ban and related global fallout, strikes a bit too close to home for me. 

I hope you can also take away from this a better understanding of the correlation of our two-decades-old orphan ministry and our more recent involvement with refugee outreach.  Ann and I find the two causes inseparable since the Bible rarely separates them.  Almost every time in Scripture that we’re called to minister to the orphan, God also includes in that call the widow and the “stranger”, most commonly referring to immigrant or refugee. 

You surely noticed in the photo above, the sign I carried in Friday’s March for Life.  Needless to say, I got a wide variety of looks and double-takes from the pro-life marchers.  Many who were thrilled to see the sentiment expressed that’s held by so many evangelical pro-lifers, and others for whom they were confronted with a category they’d never considered.  Of course the response on my facebook page was quite similar. 

To address friends who just didn’t have a category for the idea of refugees being a sanctity of life issue, I wrote the following response.

Begin my response:  I'm obviously missing something here.  I don't see what y'all (my friends who raised the question) are seeing in this to disassociate these issues.  Unless, like Franklin Graham, you believe this not a biblical issue at all.  I'm bewildered at what Bible that brother is reading!  I know you and I read the same Bible, because we've studied it together plenty of times in our past.  So, how do you separate these issues?

My guess is we’re seeing this from two differing world-views.  Being in Washington this week, it was clear there are a number of different camps in the pro-life movement.  I shared the street for the march with predominately Catholics, praying the Hail Mary and singing Ave Maria as they marched.  Then there were those the Catholics think of as “evangelicals” who stood in the streets with megaphones telling them they’re going to hell.  Then there were thousands of us evangelicals who stood with the Catholics for the cause.  Then there were the pro-life women who were denied the opportunity to march the week before for women’s rights.  I even saw some marchers with a sign that read, “Gays for Pro-Life”.  With all that diversity, the one thing we shared was our concern for life in the womb.  We all stand together against denying those innocent lives the right to leave the womb, alive.  We stand together against abortion.

But, there is a key distinction between the mainstream “pro-life” movement that focuses on abortion as the issue, and the evangelical pro-life movement that focuses on life ‘from the womb to the tomb”, as our pastor Matt Chandler put it in his keynote address to the Evangelicals for Life conference on Thursday evening before the March for Life on Friday. (Two different events rallying around a common cause but with nuanced distinctions.)  Friday evening after the march, our conference turned its attention to the immigrant issue, the refugee, the “stranger” as God often refers to him in Scripture.  (92 times in the Old Testament alone, plus from the lips of our Lord and Savior, most notably in Matthew 25.  “…for I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”)

So brother, are these the two different camps we find ourselves in, not being able to see the other side of the issue?  Maybe.  If so, can you help me see how refugees aren’t an imago Dei issue, the crux of what sanctity of life is all about?  Clearly, I'm not even taking up the argument of whether Muslim refugees are created in the image of God.  If we're on different sides of that argument then surely you've already stopped reading. 

For me this is not a political issue.  To a degree, it does divide along political lines, but it is absolutely a biblical issue for me.  A matter of principle as a believer in God, in the gospel, in the imago Dei. 

(editorial note:  The apparent politicizing of the issue you’re about to read is admittedly a generalization and over-simplification.  Of course, there are those exceptions on both sides of the issue.  This is an attempt to further highlight the distinctions of the differing world-views.)

I see the political divide as this.  The Republican party platform, and very clearly the Trump platform, as it relates to pro-life, focuses on abortion.  For much of the Republican pro-life platform in recent history, pro-life concerns virtually end when the baby leaves the birth canal.  For those few Democrat pro-lifers, of which I’m not one, though I do know one or two, they attempt to focus their pro-life concerns on both sides of the birth canal.  I won’t even take up their arguments here.  I’m not a Democrat.  You can argue that with them.  But, this is at least in part, why many of us evangelical Republicans separated ourselves from the preponderance of our evangelical brothers and sisters who supported Trump, because we see pro-life as bigger than just an abortion issue.

To further oversimplify the nuanced distinction I’m wrestling with here, in some ways it boils down to the difference between anti-abortion as a movement, and pro-life as a movement.  Liberals refuse to refer to us as anything but anti-abortion.  And perhaps for proper cause.  In my opinion, if we are to earn any other label than anti-abortion, we must focus our concerns for sanctity of life on more than the unborn.  The Bible clearly does, so why wouldn’t we?

_________________

The impact of the refugee ban was not lost on the many faith-based refugee ministries across this country, as evidenced by the following comment from our friend Mary Claire, one of the two women from our church featured in my aforementioned video, and responsible for launching The North Hill refugee ministry in which our church body has become heavily invested.

Reflecting on the grief stricken families greeted at US airports today, as like our friend Dyan’s family did in November, went to the airport to greet family members from whom they’d long been separated, Mary Claire said, “I can't stop thinking about my friends who were reunited after 4 years of separation back in November. The excitement that we all felt as we were waiting at the airport for him to come out is something I'll never forget. The horror we would have experienced that night had someone else come out and said, ‘He's sitting on the runway, but we are sending him back’ is indescribable. I'm not sure I could have recovered from the devastation. Don't think of this in the abstract. These are flesh and blood people. These are families.”

I’ve never had one of my videos go viral before, but one of the outcomes of a video being seen by literally millions is the thousands of responses by viewers as they comment, tweet, or repost.  I  haven’t had time to read the thousands of comments, but of the hundreds I’ve read, the typical responses were focused on viewers’ experience glimpsing the heart of God for the refugee, resulting in worship.  As you watch this, perhaps some of you for the first time, I hope and pray you’ll be drawn into worship of our good, Good Father.  I hope seeing this will validate my assertion that this is not about politics.  This is about the image of God and His call on our lives to live out the gospel, regardless.


 

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