This coming Sunday we will hear a very familiar story told by Jesus, the parable of the Good Samaritan. Many great preachers have preached on this. One of these great preachers was the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The day before Dr. King was assassinated, he gave his last speech in Memphis, Tennessee. In this address, he talked about this parable. Towards the end, he reflected on why the priest, the Levite did not stop for the Samaritan. He imagined that those men were simply afraid. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was indeed dangerous then and now. Dr. King thus said, ‘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?"’
I really appreciate the questions that Dr. King posed. They should be our guiding principals of our approach towards our current refugee situation. What would happen to others if I do not offer help?
In our world today, we have so many war-torn countries and many people flee to different parts of the world from these man-made disasters. We, the United States are one of the receiving countries of these refugees. The refugees are of different cultures, and different faiths. They are in desperate need for others to help them. I know in our day and age it may be normal to fear not having enough resources to go around, and the infiltration of different cultures and religions among us.
Let me share with you a ministry that I learned from Hong Kong.
St. James' Settlement is a triad of Anglican Church, Anglican school, and community service center. The beginning of this place is very inspiring. In 1949 the late Bishop Ronald Hall who oversaw the Anglican Church in Hong Kong saw the need to minister to a group of youth in a small town named Wanchai. The youth were hanging out in this town and had gotten into troubles. There were very limited resources then. Bishop Hall did not have enough resources to rent a place to gather and guide them. The need was really great.
Bishop Hall then realized a Taoist Temple was in the neighborhood where some rooms were available. He asked the monks to let the Anglican ministers gather the young people there. The monks accepted them into their temple. By gathering the youth the Anglican Church helped formed a Boys' and Girls' Club, and offered them love and guidance, which were lacking from the families. These youth turned out well and escaped the downward path into juvenile delinquents. This humble beginning of a Christian youth ministry in a Taoist Temple eventually turned into an Anglican Church, a school, and a community service center and have helped millions of people in Hong Kong.
Because of the Taoist monks did not think about what would happen to them and their sacred place if they let these Christians use their temple, but were concerned what would happen to the young people if they did not receive guidance. These two different religious leaders crossed the boundaries to help the young people.
With Dr. King’s questions and seeing St. James’ example, I wonder if we could stop worrying about what would happen to us if we offered these refugees, the “unacceptable” people help, but concern more about what would happen to them if we neglected them; and if we showed them resentment instead of compassion? Would we push them to join the terrorists whom they are running from, but who might be the only people welcoming them to terrorize others? Most importantly, didn’t Jesus teach us to love our neighbors as ourselves? Shouldn’t we love these neighbors?
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that we may know and understand what things we ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.