Franklin Graham has done more for the kingdom than you or I ever will. His humanitarian efforts have provided practical help and gospel hope to millions around the globe.
Yet his recent Facebook post about Muslim immigration troubles me. Here’s his main point:
“We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized–and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. “
I certainly understand why he said this. He was offering a grief-laden, knee-jerk reaction to Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez’s senseless killing of five marines in Chattanooga.
But I cannot agree with what he said. Because I am convinced (as I’m sure Graham is) that Jesus charged us to “make disciples of all nations”:
And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:18-20
And “all nations” includes the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. After all, our Muslim neighbors desperately need the gospel. They are caught in a legalistic religion. They believe Jesus is merely a good prophet, not a crucified savior who died for their sins. Thus they have no true hope, and they face an eternity apart from our good God.
So what are we to do? Well, many predominantly Muslim countries are not friendly to Christian missionaries. Worse, most of us are not brave or obedient enough to move to the countries that are.
Yet even though we couldn’t (or wouldn’t) go to their doorsteps, God has brought them to ours. As of 2013, 2.5 million Muslims have left their homes and come to America. They live in our neighborhoods, go to our schools, eat in our restaurants, and work in our offices.
He’s brought people like:
- Maahi*, my wife’s college classmate from Egypt — who was able to meet and befriend authentic Christians.
- Yusuf*, my friend from war-torn Syria — who visited my church and listened to me teach the gospel to him.
- The Ghaznavi* family from Iran — who now sit in our church building every week to hear both an English lesson and the good news.
- Aalia*, my wife’s student — whose mother came from the Middle East and now lives in a region with a church on every corner.
*Names have been changed.
This is not a bad thing — this is God’s providence! God saw our Muslim neighbors’ great need, and He decided to bring them to our communities. And He has given you and me the responsibility of sharing the gospel with them.
Do our Muslims in the U.S have “the potential to be radicalized,” as Franklin stated? Sure. We cannot eliminate this possibility. Yet they also have the potential to be evangelized — to hear the gospel, turn from their sins, join God’s redeemed community, and return home with a powerful, life-changing, hope-giving message.
And perhaps that’s why God brought them here in the first place.