Randy and Katy Smelser

Americans living in Germany but citizens of heaven

Answer to 1 Million

The biggest event in our lives right now is that we have gone through an organization and have taken on 4 young Syrian men as sponsors to help them adjust to Germany. Three are from the same city in Syria. We met them first last Sunday. Yesterday we helped them with some papers they received and with where things are in the city. One speaks a fine English and two understand some. They are in the limbo asylum seekers status. That means their cases are being considered by the government office for immigration.

They live in a big warehouse type of building divided into little cubicles for 6 men each. About 80-100 will be in this building when it is full. They have lockers, bunk beds, a table and 6 chairs and a fridge in the cubicle. There is no more room to move. There is a communal kitchen, laundry und bath area. They are setting up more in neighboring buildings for another 200 men. Each man gets 344 Euro ($312) a month and has to pay 180 Euro for this housing from that allowance. The rest is used for general cost of living. As of now they do not know where we live but they do know that I am the preacher at a “Free Church.” Not sure they understand what that means.

After Paris and the cancellation of the soccer game in Hanover last night because of a bomb scare, many people are concerned when they hear that we are meeting with Syrians. Many Americans are very concerned/fearful about terrorism coming with refugees. We have seen some very strong comments in the social media from Christians. A couple of things to consider:

1) Fear is the natural reaction – think about Ananias in Acts 9 as he was to go to that Christian Killer – Saul/Paul. But love conquers fear and Ananias goes to Saul and ends up baptizing him. Who would have thought? No one then, the Christians were all afraid and then Barnabas took Saul under his wing.

2) The budget for National Defense for the USA for 2015 was $636 billion dollars (plus extra for War on Terrorism). That means every single US American pays $1817 in 2015 for Defense. What would happen in this world if every person attending church would give that much to missions? We could have blanketed the refugee camps with help and the Good News. A church of 200 would be giving $363,000 for missions a year. Why are so many Christians willing to pay so much in taxes and send their sons and daughters around the world to die in wars for peace and freedom (I am thankful for men and women who are in harms way for freedom) when only real freedom and peace comes from Jesus Christ and Him alone. There will never be peace and safety in the Middle East or in the American schools or Paris or anywhere without Jesus. Yet we are so reluctant to send our sons and daughter and our “tithes” overseas (or around the corner) to bring the only Hope for the world. What is wrong with this picture? What does this say about our faith? Do we have more faith in the US Armed Forces than in God and His Word? Maybe with more missions we will need less armed forces.

3) Why are we Christians on this earth? Is it not to be out and spreading the Good News? Where would Jesus be right now if He were on this earth? In some “safe” place or out among those who need Him? Jesus even had a terrorist as one of his 12 – Simon the Zealot (Luk.6:15) These refugees are sick of war and terror and many are sick of Islam. How can we not give them an alternative in Jesus? To do less is ugly and sick. Katy and I met working for a mission behind the Iron Curtain in the 80’s – pretty gutsy then. The Love of Christ compels us (2.Cor.5:14) to the “unsafe” places of the world. We are not naïve, but then, too we, are not hard hearted or paralyzed by fear.

A couple of weeks ago I preached on Esther and I think a couple of thoughts from her story come to mind.
Mordecai to Esther: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther to Mordecai: “fast for me. I will go to the king.. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:12-16 (NIV)

This Monday evening I asked in my English class how many have ever talked with a refugee or homeless person. Not one has. What about you reading this and your churches: how many have ever talked to a foreigner, a refugee, an illegal alien, a Muslim? We Christians can hide from them and hope they do not overtake our land or we can reach out to them. We are all going to die some day; the question is how are we going to go – reaching out or in comfort and “safety”? “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh.24:15 NIV)

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name.” Deuteronomy 10:18-20 (NIV)

Of course there is a small danger in us starting this new adventure but I would say the odds of getting killed in a car wreck is much greater, especially on the Autobahn 2 by Peine. Who knows where a hate filled person is lurking in this world? Thus, just as Esther asked for prayers so do we. Pray that we can openly proclaim the Word to a people from a land where missionaries were not allowed. We believe God is sending them to us. Imagine what could happen if every Christian family sponsored a Muslim and shared the Gospel.