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April-May 2022

Everyday Discipleship


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Strangers in Our Land

By Clint Morgan


From an early age I heard the warning “stranger-danger.” We kids were clearly instructed not to take things from a stranger. In today’s world, living under the mantra stranger-danger would keep us paralyzed by fear, perhaps spending an inordinate amount of time barricaded in our homes. None of us desire to live in a constant state of alarm. So, how do we respond to the growing presence of strangers in our land?

A quick glance at significant facts and figures may help our discussion. The population of the world is 7.9 billion. The United States claims 333.6 million inhabitants. In our ever-changing country, we can barely leave home without encountering one of the 44.8 million, or 13.7%, foreign-born inhabitants in the U.S. An estimated 10.3 million of the foreign born are undocumented (

Taking note of these statistics, we realize immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers make up a large social grouping affecting our lives at many levels. Therefore, we cannot push this matter aside and think ignoring it solves it.

A vast majority of those seeking entry into the U.S. are escaping situations of constant danger. In their birth countries, they faced extreme poverty, war, crime, and daily threats. Escaping these conditions simply made sense. They are willing to leave the familiar and take enormous risks to enter the unknown, because their present situation is unbearable and life threatening. Immediately upon arrival in the United States, or any country, they come face to face with life-changing elements:

  • Living in unfamiliar surroundings (lodging, transportation, shopping, medical service, etc.)

  • Demands of operating in a new language

  • Dealing with being an “unwanted stranger”

  • Hearing about another God.

In days gone by, missionaries went to the nations. God is now bringing the nations to us. The primary question is: how do we, as followers of Christ, address the increasing challenges and opportunities before us, with the influx of immigrants and refugees in the U.S.?

A 2015 Lifeway Research poll found “90% of all evangelicals say the Scripture has no impact on their views toward immigration reform.” It is sobering, even frightening, to think the Bible is not the primary source guiding Christians in their thoughts regarding a matter as important as immigration.

A subsequent Lifeway study (2017) indicated, “Protestant congregations in America were twice as likely to fear refugees as help them.” The survey revealed 20% of evangelicals see immigration as a threat to U.S. customs and values, while 48% consider it a burden on our society. This attitude among the evangelical community is disconcerting.

It was encouraging to read “Senior pastors overwhelmingly believed Christians have a responsibility to care sacrificially for refugees and foreigners.” Yet, only 33% of evangelical pastors address the issue of immigration from the pulpit. Will people in the pews grapple with such questions if their leadership chooses not to?


Dangerous Presuppositions

Presuppositions about the strangers in our land will, to a great degree, color our response to them. As humans, we see the world through a grid of accumulated knowledge and experiences. These form our presuppositions. We interpret and react to what we see, hear, and sense through the filter of those presuppositions.

As we seek to develop a practical, biblical response to the challenges and opportunities offered by the presence of nearly 45 million immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers, we should deal with some major presuppositions that may completely slant our responses.

First, consider some negative presuppositions that skew one’s processing. If one perceives those coming to the U.S. from other countries as:

  • A raider of the work force

  • A financial burden to our country

  • A menace to our culture

  • A danger to our religious beliefs

  • A disturbance in our educational system

  • A carrier of strange and dangerous diseases

  • A nuisance in our communications

  • A threat to our security (such as terrorists, infiltrators, spies, etc.)

our thoughts and actions will tend toward the negative. If this is the starting point of one’s thinking, it will be difficult, but not impossible, to move toward a compassionate response.
No doubt, some of those coming to the U.S. do arrive with hate-filled hearts and present a threat. However, should we allow this to be the dominant factor directing our actions and reactions to the presence of non-native Americans? The truth is, practically all of us need only go back a few generations to find family members who were strangers in the United States.


Positive Presuppositions

Let’s examine some values we, as Christians, should allow to guide us in caring for the strangers in our land. First, it is imperative we see every human being, specifically each immigrant or refugee, through God’s view—a viewpoint solidly based on the biblical principles regarding all humanity. We should agree on the following declarations:

  • All people are God’s creation.

  • Every human has a soul with eternal value.

  • Christians should love all people as we love ourselves.

  • All inhabitants of this earth have the right to feel loved, safe, and valued.

  • Everyone should have access to the necessities of life.

  • God desires all humans spend eternity with Him.

  • Christ died for all mankind.

  • He has commissioned us to take the gospel to all nations and this includes those coming to us as immigrants and refugees.

Take another look at this list. One-by-one, ask the simple question: are there any exceptions? If there are no exceptions, these principles should take a higher priority in deciding our actions. They call us to move beyond Christian rhetoric to ask how loving our neighbor as ourselves is lived out among our immigrant and refugee neighbors. Using this affirmative, Bible-based perspective makes it more likely we will respond compassionately and justly.


The Word Speaks

It would be pretentious of me, or anyone, to declare a definitive answer regarding how to respond to the challenges and opportunities of immigrants and refugees in the U.S. Yet, let’s remind ourselves once again of biblical teaching. Both the Old and New Testaments provide principles to guide us. Numerous verses address this subject.

Old Testament

  • Exodus 12:49. “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.”

  • Leviticus 19:9c, 10b. “Thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field…neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger.”

  • Leviticus 19:34. “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

  • Deuteronomy 24:14. “Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates.”


New Testament

  • Matthew 25:44-45. “Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”

  • Luke 4:18b. “Preach the gospel to the poor…preach deliverance to the captives…set at liberty them that are bruised.”

  • James 2:14-17. “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

May we, as Christians, expend the time and energy necessary to properly grapple with this opportunity in a manner that promotes Christian values and demonstrates God’s love, mercy, and justice to strangers in our land. If we act properly, it will bring respect to Christianity. Most importantly, a proper response will bring honor and glory to God.

About the Author: Clint Morgan has been director of IM, Inc. since 2011. Learn more:


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists