The Great Commission Or The Great Migration: What Is The Church’s Priority?

The Great Commission Or The Great Migration: What Is The Church’s Priority?

There’s a rising wave of Christians in western culture who feel it’s their duty to God to open the borders of America and Europe and flood the streets with immigrants. Many of these immigrants are from Muslim-majority countries, such as Somalia, Syria, Iraq and other nations in the Middle East. On the political side of the issue, President Trump has taken the position that the United States should be allowed to pick and choose who comes in and who stays out. This type of thinking has caused outrage, and not just from his political opponents on the left, but also some in the church on the right, because a lot of people believe the United States and Christians have a responsibility to destroy the boundaries that would keep people out. Combine this ideology with the current mass-migration taking place globally, and it doesn’t take a degree in political or world sciences to realize that there’s a breaking point coming. So the question I have is this:

Are Christians called to go to the lost, or are Christians called to bring the lost to themselves?

One of the most famous passages of Scripture can be found in Matthew 28:18-20:

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The key word in the last command of Jesus to his followers was to go.

Get out. Leave your home and find the lost. Don’t stay here. Start looking for those who need Christ.


The United States has famously sent missionaries around the world, evangelizing nations on every continent and establishing churches in the furthest corners of the globe. Most of countries on earth have benefited from the Gospel-spreading that American Christians have been doing through both money and actually being missionaries. The church was never called to sit back and wait on people to show up, or to throw open the doors and welcome everyone inside. Instead, we are commissioned to go to where the non-believers are and bring them the great message of hope and truth ever spoken.

…the question is not whether we should or shouldn’t help. The question is about how to help, and the church has fallen into the trap of simplicity, choosing instead a naive open-door policy.

During this period of our history, faced with the unprecedented rise of immigrants leaving the Middle East, South & Central America, and Africa, western nations are finding themselves torn. Should we open our borders and allow in any person who comes knocking, or should we maintain strong borders and do our part to help them overseas with money, missionaries, and support via charities and other organizations?

Some within the church have begun questioning the wisdom of the open-borders policy. There’s a good reason for that, and history is with those who are currently skeptical. The elements within Christianity that view massive migration as an opportunity for domestic evangelism are not aware of the lack of fruit that’s actually produced from open borders. Take Minnesota, for example.

Back in 1991, a civil war broke out in Somalia. Many of those fleeing the war went to Kenya to live in refugee camps. When Lutheran Social Services (among others) heard of the situation, they petitioned and worked with the federal government to resettle Somalians in Minnesota. Many within the church saw it as an opportunity to convert these people to Christianity, and they joyfully brought them in by the thousands. There were some initial converts to Christ, but pressure from more and more waves of refugees caused the community to remain Islamic. To this day there has been no Somali harvest for Christianity, and yet over 100,000 have been resettled, mainly in the Twin Cities. In fact, outside of Somalia, there is no place on earth with more Somalians than Minnesota. The unsustainable welfare system has enticed the Somali community to stay put, with each new wave of arrivals sending work back home that there is free money, housing and education. If you or I were a Somalian, we’d jump at the chance too. This is just one group of people from one nation. We also have Muslim immigrants from Iraq, Syria and many other places. So from a religious standpoint, to those Christians who say that God is bring them to us for conversion, the facts don’t show that to be true. Let’s not be naive.

The church was never called to sit back and wait on people to show up, or to throw open the doors and welcome everyone inside.

None of this is to say that helping to resettle people in times of war and trouble is not worthwhile or noble. In fact, it’s a very honorable cause to reach down and help those in distress. But the question is not whether we should or shouldn’t help. The question is about how to help, and the church has fallen into the trap of simplicity, choosing instead a naive open-door policy.

A better solution to bringing Somalians, Syrians, Iraqis, and almost every other national group to America is this: resettle them in cultures nearby that share their values and traditions (or at least are much closer than those in Europe and America). The Christian has a heart to serve and give, and that’s what we are called to do, but we aren’t called to open our national borders and flood our nation with foreigners who oftentimes do not assimilate into our culture. Instead, the Christian thing to do would be to send money, support international charities like Samaritan’s Purse, and fund the work of missionaries.

Voting for politicians who will support capitalism in these countries is another huge way to help these people. Many times refugees come from nations where the leadership is corrupt and the country is unstable. Instead of propping up ruthless and immoral governments, leaders in Europe and America should seek to help western-style leaders rise to the top. After all, people would rather live in their home country with stability and economic mobility, rather than be resettled in a nation where no one speaks their language and they have nothing to build on.

Migration is happening, and it’s happening worldwide. So is evangelism. In a few years, the largest Christian nation on earth will be China, although many of those people will be living in the shadows. Africa and South America are experiencing revival at unprecedented levels. All this is occurring while millions are leaving their homelands to reap the benefits the West enjoys.

The church needs to be aware of what’s happening, and it needs to use wisdom. We must not get stuck in the immediate situation, but rather think of the long-term impact of our decisions. The rash decision is to throw open the doors and let anyone in, believing that God is driving them to our churches and Bible studies for salvation. We should pause when we feel that way, and look to the Lutherans and Minnesota for a case study of how that model doesn’t work.

Let’s stick with what does work. Here in America, let’s have a strong and defensible border, a loving and charitable population, and a consistent release of missionaries into the most vulnerable places on earth. Abroad, let’s support free markets, religious and political freedom, and private enterprises in these war-torn and impoverished nations. This is the Christian thing to do, and it will benefit us all in the long-term.

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