Matthew Kaemingk makes a political and theological case for welcoming Muslim immigrants.
Osama is blind. According to an NPR report, he lost his eyesight in 2012 when a mortar shell exploded nearby, killing everyone around, except him. He, his wife, and four children were Syrian refugees in Jordan for three years before learning the US State Department had approved them for asylum. To obtain the relevant visas, however, Osama and his family required a sponsor: a family to welcome them and assist in their transition.
The sponsor for this Muslim family? A Christian congregation—Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey. The family had almost no information about the congregation. They were told only that someone would greet them. But soon enough, they received free housing and a kitchen stocked with food. A team of congregants undertook various gestures of hospitality, even inspecting the house to ensure it would be safe for a blind resident.
The family was overwhelmed by the generosity of the Nassau congregation, and the church was enriched in turn. As one congregant remarked, “the family’s presence has been a blessing to us all.” An immigrant family had need, and the church met it, in keeping with God’s Old Testament command: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (Lev. 19:34).
In 2016, the United States admitted approximately 38,000 Muslim refugees, according to the Pew Research Center. This figure is up considerably from the year prior, and more than double that of 2011. One reason for the increase is the staggering number of refugees spilling out from Syria and surrounding areas, where civil war and ISIS brutality have caused a mass exodus. Refugees from Syria alone have ballooned in number over the past five years, from around …