Our nation, along with many countries around the world, has witnessed a mass exodus of families including women, children, and the elderly from the middle eastern nation of Syria. As a result of bombings and continued fighting, there appears to be no relief in sight for hundreds of thousands of innocents as they find themselves between warring factions.
Over the past couple of years as the flood of refugees fled the region, European nations struggled with how to meet the needs of the desperate families as they sought shelter, food, and basic safety needs. The European Union has at times found itself ill-prepared and in some cases outright hostile to the refugees' plight. Some countries have responded compassionately and courageously, opening their hearts to refugees seeking safe haven. Great Britain, France, Germany, and Iceland are just a few of our trade and strategic partners who have taken decisive steps to welcome and give shelter to the war refugees as they left their familiar lives behind. Outside of Europe, Canada has acted compassionately, giving safe haven to desperate families and individuals.
Our president, Barack Obama, moved by the news of suffering on the part of refugees, announced to the nation that the extended, strenuous, exacting, and protracted vetting process already in place for all refugees would be upping the quota of visas being issued to enable our country to accept more of the fleeing women, children, and other individuals seeking aid. And yet, before these refugees can begin arriving, numerous state legislatures have balked and begun taking steps to close their doors to the fleeing women, children, and elderly refugees.
The Tennessee state house is one of those bodies attempting to close borders to these dear ones who have suffered so much. It is my hope that individuals and communities across our state will be so moved by kindness, hospitality, and compassion that our legislature will ultimately embrace all Syrians fleeing war and suffering. More Life to You and Joy!
Rev. Mark C. Pafford
Chaplain and Minister