The following is message from Jarrett Meek to a brother in Christ who respectfully and thoughtfully voiced his concerns about Jarrett’s sharp response to our state's decision not to accept Syrian refugees in Kansas. This message is shared with the permission of this brother in Christ.
I appreciate your thoughtful email. Your concern for my reputation and that of Mission Adelante is also something I appreciate. I'm not sure how to respond here, because, first, I'm tired. I'm tired from loving and fighting. It's not fun or in any way enjoyable. And I am very aware of the impact that my advocacy may have on my own reputation and that of Mission Adelante, and it concerns me too. That is the water I have been swimming in since the Lord called me to serve and share life and share Jesus with people who a lot of Americans hate.
I see these issues from a very different angle than most of my Christian friends who live in other parts of our city. The issues are personal and impact real people who I actually know: Muslim refugees who I know personally who are being referred to in a broad generalization as "ass wipes" by friends of friends on Facebook, another friend, whose father was a Muslim and fled Tajikstan during their civil war because of ethnic cleansing, and the general hateful rhetoric that comes from some Christians and politicians regarding undocumented immigrants, of whom I know many personally, and with whom I have wept, worshiped, prayed, and served our neighborhood and our Lord together. In a real sense, woe is me if I don't speak strongly.
Sometimes my words may be sharp, but they come from a place of passion and personal experience with things that really matter. It is hard to have a strong opinion about political issues that go against what many of my suburban Christian friends hold. My voice is small in the midst of a sea of conservative Christian voices that shout a message that I don't believe represents the heart of Christ. I'm aware, and sad, that a challenging and strong voice of opposition on certain political issues means that my fellow conservative, Evangelical friends may write me off as divisive.
Going with the flow and keeping the peace doesn't change the currents at all. There are times in our nation's history and in the world's history when followers of Jesus (especially comfortable, safe, white Christians... and I don't mean any disrespect here, because I'm one also) have been silent when we should have been very vocal. Those are not times any of us are proud of. So, I wrestle with how to speak strongly according to my deep convictions against American cultural currents that are almost overwhelming. How can I do this without risking my reputation? How can I use my reputation to influence Christians to go in a different direction than the cultural current takes them? How can this work NOT be divisive? Is avoiding being divisive more important than speaking out on behalf victims of some of the most brutal persecution we’ve seen in the last 50 years? If I'm quiet, gentle, and uncontroversial, will anyone even hear and be challenged? There is a time for risking reputations for something that really matters, and I believe that this really matters to God.
Was expressing my shame too strong a form of communication? Maybe so... I'm thankful for you telling me that you considered it to be too reckless. It will help shape me. As far as your analogy and your concern that I am forcing my willingness to engage in risky compassion on others, maybe others are willing also? Maybe a majority of Americans or Kansans would be willing to take that kind of risk? The President of France affirmed yesterday that France would still take 30,000 Syrian refugees, standing in stark moral contrast to the governors of more than half of our states, and all of our Republican presidential candidates. This is a morally strong position and one that our nation and our states could follow as well. I am in favor of it, and I feel that it is important enough to advocate for. Maybe my small voice will influence others to think differently. That is the way our democracy works. I know I'm risking a lot in doing so, but what else is my life for if it's not to spend in on things that really matter. I guess to close, I'm going to share this message with you that I received from a friend who has seen my Facebook posts recently and has been wrestling with these issues too. It is copied here below. Please keep praying for me. I need it a lot.
In His Grace,
A message from a sister in Christ who has wrestled with these same issues...
"I woke up this morning wrestling in my mind over the subject of refugees. I have been following <a certain candidate> closely as a presidential candidate and he is calling for American’s to sign a petition against allowing them in. I respect you and your ministry and you are calling Christians to welcome them. I spent two very agitated hours this morning trying to educate myself, trying to see this issue from every angle. And finally a bedrock of my faith was where I landed, oh am I so thankful for solid foundations in my faith! We serve a God of unity. There is one God, and one Holy Spirit and disunity is against His nature. My opinion doesn’t matter on this issue, my God’s does.
I went to prayer and in that place I knew that we are to be open to refugees. The argument about safety is absolutely valid, but God doesn’t call us to be safe. God may want our nation to be unsafe, that may be His will. That decision made I was able to be at peace. What happened next after the peace is why I am compelled to write this down. The bigger lie of this whole issue just slapped me in the face and moved me to weeping for our country. Satan has convinced many Christians in this country that we are safer out of God’s will than in it. Lord have mercy.
Jarrett - thank you for taking a stand that cause me to go seek God’s counsel this morning. I feel like my eyes have been opened. Better is one day in His courts than thousands elsewhere."