Love Thy Neighbor

Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

Perfect Love Drives Out Fear
After they crossed the Aegean Sea, a refugee mother helps her daughter put on dry shoes on the Lesbos, Greece, beach where they arrived.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. —1 John 3:16-18

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them … There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. —1 John 4:16,18

United Methodist Women grieves the tragic loss of life due to ISIS/Daesh violence in Paris (129 people killed), Beirut (43 killed) and in a Russian plane in the Sinai (131 killed). United Methodist Women condemns these terrible acts of violence and continues to pray for victims, for their families and for those who respond. At the same time we pray for the community of nations responding to these events and commit ourselves to acting from a perspective of conviction and compassion, rather than of fear. We decry the use of these atrocities by politicians and the media to evoke fear and hatred at the moment when our Syrian sisters and brothers most need our welcome and support. They, themselves, are fleeing terror from ISIS/Daesh and the effects of bombing by the Assad government, the U.S., France, Russia and Irani and Saudi proxy groups. 

United Methodist Women denounces calls by some U.S. governors, candidates and members of Congress to refuse Syrian refugees, to turn away Muslim refugees, and to incite fear and hatred.

Resisting Fear

This is a moment to resist fear and instead stand in our faith, “for the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-control” (1 Timothy 1:7). As followers of Jesus Christ, we must embrace the things that make for peace. We must ask that our nation seek just relations, reconciliation, and extend radical welcome. We must resist the call to fear and act out of our faith, which calls us to love our neighbor and welcome the stranger. There is no doubt about the biblical message regarding how we are to treat foreigners. In no less than 34 passages the faithful are reminded that we are to treat strangers as we do our own kin.

This is also the time for us to remember painful lessons from our nation’s history. We recall the shameful and unjustified internment of Japanese American citizens during World War II, under the guise that they posed a national security threat. We recall when our nation Link opens in a new window. disgracefully turned away Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, returning some to their deaths.

As a nation, as Christians, as human beings, we cannot be silent at this time. Our nation has a moral obligation to welcome Syrian refugees in numbers commensurate with the need, as well as others fleeing war. Link opens in a new window. The review process for refugees is already stringent and extensive.

We challenge the suspension of democratic rights and freedom in the name of “security.” No amount of surveillance, militarization, criminalization of communities of color and suspension of democratic rights will make us more “secure” when we are not in just relationship with our brothers and sisters around the world. We can model God’s love, which drives out fear.

Link opens in a new window. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan are instructive to our nation today. He considered why the priest and Levite did not stop to help the wounded man and said, “It's possible that those men were afraid. … You see, the Jericho Road is a dangerous road. … And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’ That's the question before you.”

United Methodist Women members will be responding through service and advocacy. We are letting elected officials know that refugees are welcome in our communities; supporting emergency relief in Europe and the Middle East through UMCOR, and seeking ways to offer hospitality to refugees arriving in our communities.

Posted or updated: 11/23/2015 11:00:00 PM

*Global Migration and Immigration Rights

Take Action:

We urge United Methodist Women members to:

  • Speak up! Talk about why we should continue to welcome Syrian refugees, other migrants and refugees with our families, neighbors and in church. Challenge xenophobia and Islamophobia.
  • Include in prayer. Pray for refugees who are crossing land and sea seeking safety. Consider creating a prayer station in your church to pray for refugees.
  • Take action by using the Thirteen Steps to Sustainability. As the Christmas gift frenzy begins, explore United Methodist Women’s “Thirteen Steps to Sustainability” principles and consider buying fewer things. Instead, make a gift to Link opens in a new window. UMCOR to support Syrian and other refugees in Europe, letting them know you are a United Methodist Women member.  
  • Link opens in a new window. Contact Church World Service. Find out how you can help welcome refugees in your community. Visit Link opens in a new window.
  • Contact Your Governor. Let him or her know that you feel your state should continue to welcome Syrian and all refugees fleeing war and persecution. Thank him or her if they have done so. Let candidates and elected officials know that exploiting migrants and refugees for political gain is unscrupulous. Continue United Methodist Women efforts to #EndFamilyDetention and shut down privately run family detention centers. On November 17, two Syrian families — two women, two men and four children — sought refuge in Laredo at the U.S./Mexican border. Instead of finding that refuge they were separated, and women and children were detained in the Dilley, Texas, family detention center, while the men were detained elsewhere.
  • Hold Elected Official Accountable. Urge our elected officials to provide significant support for the almost 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, with access to work and education for the children. Call on the Senate to vote against the bill that would restrict Syrian refugees, and support raising the number of refugees the United States will receive from 10,000 to 65,000 or more .
  • Seek Peace. Challenge military solutions to extremist violence that lead to countless more innocent deaths. Building on United Methodist Women’s work on engaging women in peacemaking (UN Security Council resolution 1325), urge that peace efforts in Syria involve those most affected — the Syrian people, including women.
  • Read United Methodist Women’s Draft Resolutions for General Conference 2016. Get background information on “Stop Criminalizing Communities of Color in the US” (including refugees) and “Speaking Out for Compassion: Transforming the Context of Hate in the United States.”