Monday, February 1, 2016

A Difference In `Justice' In America And The Middle East

Refugees arriving on a Greek island
A good friend of mine told me the story of a little boy with an arm that ended in a stub below his elbow. My friend was a volunteer soccer coach in a league of refugee boys in a large Midwestern city. The boys and their families were Muslim and had left their homes behind to come to America. They hailed from places like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria, countries that swallow up their residents in sinkholes of bombings, shootings, starvation and other means of violent death.

One day at soccer practice my friend asked the Iraqi boy what happened to his arm. The boy explained that years earlier, when he was 4 and living in Iraq, he had stolen something in the market. He was caught and under Sharia law there was a stiff price to be administered for his crime. The penalty he paid was his hand that was hacked off.

Four years old.

I have a memory myself of stealing something in the store when I was a young child a little older than the Iraqi boy. I was standing in the checkout line at Wagner's Supermarket in Bend, Ore., and managed to filch a piece of candy and put it in my pocket. My memory is that it was a piece of hard candy. I glanced up to meet the stink eye of an older woman in line behind us. I don't recall anything happening to me; apparently the lady didn't rat me out. I certainly didn't lose my hand.

I tell this story because I've thought a lot about the refugees from the Middle East and Africa. We've all seen the pictures and read and watched the stories of the people who risk their lives to flee their countries in hopes that at least they may live. Or there's stories like that Iraqi boy, the one with the arm that ends in a stump.

I would encourage you to listen to this recent teaching by David Platt on the Biblical response to the refugee crisis. I have plenty of thoughts on the refugee crisis that I'll share in one or more upcoming posts. But listen to Platt's message as I found it enlightening: Message on refugees

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