Children of God. That is how the dead children of Syria were referred to by our president this past week. However, children (and adults) have been dying in Syria for several years. To date, somewhere between 400,000 – 500,000 Syrians have died in their civil war. But, that’s what civil wars do. They decimate the population of the country where it occurs. It was true during the U.S. Civil War, it was true in Vietnam, and any other country we might care to examine.
Other than knowing Bashar Al-Assad is ruthless dictator and ISIS is an equally ruthless combatant, it has been a challenge to figure out the role the U.S. should play. Unlike many civil wars, there are more than two combatants, sometimes fighting in a myriad of combinations. President Obama did not have a clear policy on what we should do and neither does our current president.
However, there is one thing we as a people can make clear, which is we agree that the people fleeing such horrific conditions are indeed children of God. It seems to me that if they are children of God when they are being killed, then they are also children of God when they are fleeing.
As such, we should embrace them and given them shelter, safety, and compassion. One single city in Turkey has taken in over 100,000 thousand Syrian refugees. Our country has barely taken in 12,000. When it comes to welcoming the stranger, providing food to the hungry, shelter to those without a home, and sustenance to those who are suffering, then our Christian call is clear. We do it. We do it because that is what Jesus taught us to do. We do it because it is the humane choice. We do it because we can.
Children of God – let’s treat the Syrian refugees like we believe they truly are children of God.
Rev. Mary Wilson is pastor of Church of the Savior in Cedar Park, which is affiliated with The United Church of Christ, American Baptist Churches - USA and The Alliance of Baptists.