ADVERTISING
 
Tuesday, June 27   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Evangelicals' relationship to Roman Catholicism
Pope Francis and some evangelical pastors and theologians have expressed their aim of walking the "path towards unity". Do you agree?




SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Thomas K. Johnson
1
 

Xenophobia, Hospitality, and the Refugee Crisis in Europe

Do we only see laws and borders that need to be enforced, or do we also try to follow a higher humanitarian law that stands above national laws and borders? 

FEATURES AUTHOR Thomas K. Johnson 18 SEPTEMBER 2015 09:50 h GMT+1
sea, refugees Photo: Clem Onojhuengo (Unsplash, CC)

Some 15 years ago I gave a lecture in a church in Moravia (Eastern Czech Republic) about the importance of hospitality for people who want to become Christian leaders. After considering Titus 1:8, that an elder must be hospitable, we read other relevant biblical texts, such as 1 Peter 4:9 “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling,” and Hebrews 13:2, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” A young man in the class commented, “We Eastern Europeans have a hard time practicing hospitality because we are a little xenophobic. We are afraid of foreigners, people who are not like us.”



A light went on in my mind; I noticed that the New Testament Greek word for hospitality is philoxenia, which sounds like the exact opposite of xenophobia. The word xenophobia comes from the words xeno (stranger or foreign) and phobia (fear); philoxenia comes from the words philos (friend) and xenia (foreign). Hospitality in the Bible means to overcome xenophobia and treat a foreigner like a friend. This group of future church leaders recognized that to become godly leaders and practice Christian hospitality, they had to consciously overcome their xenophobia.



Recently, Martin Patzelt, a father of five and a member of the German parliament (CDU), invited some Eritrean refugees to stay in his home. This is how some Christians in Europe are responding to the waves of refugees, attempting to surpass the efforts of their governments. But the report says Mr. Patzelt has faced threats from xenophobic groups, such that he now needs police protection from frightened Germans, not from the foreigners in his home! This is what Christian leadership looks like. Hospitality is attempting to overcome xenophobia.



Notice I did not say there is no reason to be afraid. There are good reasons to be afraid of the results of hundreds of thousands or a million homeless and poor people flooding into Europe from across the Middle East and parts of Africa in a largely uncontrolled manner. There will be problems; xenophobia is not groundless paranoia. Some welfare systems, schools, and medical clinics may be overwhelmed.



Where will so many people live? Are there jobs for so many? Will there be riots? Will there be homeless people crowding the streets? What will be the effects on struggling economies? Are the refugees educated properly to be able to live and work in Europe? Might there be a terrorist among them? Might they bring their wars with them? Will there be so many Muslims that they begin to Islamize more parts of Europe? And will the influx of people renew Europe or will they overburden Europe to the point of disintegration?



I will not be surprised if the influx of refugees causes a transition in Europe as significant as the fall of communism. Europe did not choose to have this crisis, but Europe can choose how it responds to the crisis. And the response to the refugee crisis will set a moral direction for the future that will define the soul of Europe, including whether Europe is renewed or begins to disintegrate. The choice is xenophobia versus hospitality, each of which embodies a whole philosophy of life. Do we mostly see people as problems or do we mostly see people as gifts, even if they need help right now? Do we mostly live out of fear, or is it possible that love of neighbors, solidarity, can overcome fear? Do we only see laws and borders that need to be enforced, or do we also try to follow a higher humanitarian law that stands above national laws and borders? If Europe does not answer this set of questions correctly, it may go into decline; if the newcomers are properly welcomed, Europe may be reinvigorated.



The character of Europe today is partly the results of moral choices made after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in 1989. In spite of inconsistencies, Western Europe made serious efforts to practice hospitality to their eastern neighbors who were trying to escape communism, even though there were good reasons to be afraid that millions of people educated under communism would not know how to live in democracies. The moral choices made by Western Europe after 1989 resulted from a philosophy of life, a system of ethics, which was brought to the situation, and the long history of Christianity in Europe contributed to this philosophy of life. 



What profound tragedies lie behind the millions of refugees! Who was not moved by the picture of the little boy washed up dead on a beach? But what philosophy of life will Europe bring to its response? Xenophobia or hospitality?



 



Prof. Thomas K. Johnson, Ph.D., is a Human Rights advisor to the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance. He spent 21 years serving as an educator in the formerly communist countries of Eastern Europe.


 

 


1
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 

Jeff Fountain
05/11/2015
06:47 h
1
 
Thank you Thomas for this significant insight: 'philoxenia is the exact opposite of xenophobia'. Hospitality in the Bible means to overcome xenophobia and treat a foreigner like a friend! And that our choices being made right now will define the soul of Europe. Europe is indeed on trial right now.
 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Xenophobia, Hospitality, and the Refugee Crisis in Europe
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

 
Israel, the UN resolution and the long conflict Israel, the UN resolution and the long conflict

Shira Sorko-Ram, pastor and journalist in Israel, shares her views and a historical and biblical context on the latest events.

 
Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

 
Giovanni Traettino: “Pope Francis is my brother in Christ” Giovanni Traettino: “Pope Francis is my brother in Christ”

Evangelical Focus asked the well-known Pentecostal pastor about his “open” approach to Roman Catholicism. Traettino defended his position about ecumenism during the Italian Evangelical Alliance 2016 assembly (8-9 April, Rome).

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Thomas Bucher: Vision of the EEA Thomas Bucher: Vision of the EEA

Influence in society, evangelical identity and projects in Europe. An interview with Thomas Bucher, secretary general of the European Evangelical Alliance.

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch

Author and international speaker Dr Pablo Martínez discusses the main challenges in Europe nowadays and hopes Evangelical Focus will be a useful tool to help build bridges between churches and society.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
The abilities of Mefi-Boset The abilities of Mefi-Boset

Christian ministry Mefi-Boset has been working with people with intellectual disabilities in their leisure time, and supporting their families in Terrassa and Barcelona (Spain) for 20 years. 

 
Re-evangelise Europe and renew the biblical church Re-evangelise Europe and renew the biblical church

The 2017 European Leadership Forum gathered hundreds in Poland to celebrate the Reformation and connect to better share the gospel in diverse national contexts. See picture gallery.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country ‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country

Bilbao hosted the Spanish Evangelical Alliance's annual meeting (assembly). Politicians, professors and evangelical representatives shared views on social reconciliation. The theme was also analysed from a theological perspective and in workshops. 

 
WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues

A selection of pictures of World Press Photo 2017.

 
The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi spoke about how the biblical worldview shaped the West. 300 professionals attended annual GBG meeting on faith and work in Cullera (Spain). Photos: J.P. Serrano, S. Vera.

 
Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016 Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016

Around 1,000 young Christian leaders from 150 countries are participating in the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, to reflect on global mission.

 
“Spain, we pray for you” “Spain, we pray for you”

Hundreds of evangelical Christians from many denominations marched in Madrid (Spain) to pray for their city, the authorities and asking God to bring hope to its society. Many gathered in other cities on June, 11.

 
VIDEO Video
 
How does the love of God affect my daily life? How does the love of God affect my daily life?

“God’s love is ontological, it cannot be in any way diminished by my poor performance”, says Jerry Root, Professor of Christian Education at Wheaton College (USA).

 
Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi on how the Protestant Reformation underlined individualism as a means to please God, and how secular Europe corrupted it.

 
Mangalwadi: Education and the Reformation Mangalwadi: Education and the Reformation

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi talks about how a renwed view of the Bible changed education systems in Europe.

 
What role does the Church have in Europe? What role does the Church have in Europe?

Evi Rodemann (Germany) talks about the unique contributions to society that only the Church can make. 

 
Students in Europe: “We are present” Students in Europe: “We are present”

A summary video of the IFES Europe conference which brought together 1,700 students from many countries in Aschaffenburg (Germany) to reflect on God's mission in society.

 
You-To live-How? You-To live-How?

The Roldan Camacho are a Spanish couple with deafness. They tell us how the whole family experiences everyday life through sign language. A video report by Gabriela Pérez.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.