A Syrian refugee family was recently settled in the Atlanta area according to a local paper article:
Bryant Wright, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and now the pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, confirmed Monday that his large Marietta church is helping resettle a Syrian refugee family that arrived in Georgia last week.
A family that attends Johnson Ferry let [the couple] and their four-year-old son stay in their home until the church found them an apartment in the Atlanta region, said Wright, who is known for his “Right from the Heart” ministry broadcast on television and radio. Working with the World Relief Atlanta refugee resettlement agency, Wright’s 8,400-member church is now helping the Syrians — Sunni Muslims — cover their expenses and learn English.
Our governor, a Baptist, has attempted to halt any resettlement of Syrians in Georgia. While Wright disagrees with the governor’s stance here, he indicates he understands that the governor has different responsibilities and is “seeking to protect the citizens of the state.”
Wright, unlike the governor and almost all Americans and Southern Baptists, has been to some of the Syrian refugee camps in the Middle East.
“It was just so heartbreaking to see the humanitarian disaster that is occurring because of the war in Syria,” he said. “Knowing the United States was going to be taking on more Syrian refugees, we just wanted to be stepping up to minister with the love of Christ to these folks who have often lost everything.”
Reactions to immigration in our country, and not infrequently by SBC colleagues, is visceral and often based on dehumanizing, faceless generalizations. This Syrian refugee family, a couple with a small child, had been a year and a half or so in processing for entry into the states. Reports are that the couple had had around a dozen family members killed in the Syrian civil war. The young mother’s sister was reported to have been killed by a sniper while walking with her infant. Immigration policy offered by some here would have further punished this couple for happening to come from an area where sectarian violence had already cost them their home, their livelihood, and many in their family.
The state does what the state should do. The church does what the church should do.
I commend Bryant Wright for leading his church to be authentic Christians. Others may choose differently. So be it.
As an addendum, I heard that one translator took the family on their first visit to an American supermarket. What is routine to us was overwhelming to them. They felt much more comfortable when a local Middle Eastern-style market was located. Metropolitan Atlanta has a population of around 6 million people and includes groups from everywhere in the world.
RNS also has a piece on this and similar.