Thursday, August 29, 2013

Emigrants, Legal or Illegal

An Advocacy group reminded me today to support their Emigration Reform ... "Stand With the Dream!" That is a hot political potato but that does not keep people from having an opinion. 
I once was part of that 6% of the world’s population enjoying celebrity status for owning the biggest, best, and most cars. We drove on the best highways; we burned the cheapest gas. I remember 19-cents a gallon Sinclair gas.

 We had the most telephones! The best gadgetry! We were the biggest, sweetest slice of Apple Pie on the hemisphere … until everybody wanted to be one of “us”.

 Although midway through my eighth decade, and I do not remember ever living without emigrants. Our neighbors were Dutch, German, Polynesian, Yiddish, even First Americans; I didn’t mention Spanish ‘cause I didn’t know any back then.

 We only recognize immigrants now because we want to rid ourselves of THEM; if they’re immigrants, they must be illegals … they all are. This political football gets kicked all directions these days … AND if we could just get rid of all the illegals, things would be okay!

 I wonder! That’s like going to church where everybody is a charter member-- a homesteader—and we reject any membership applications from candidates unable to qualify as second generation Christians. NO n-e-w members, unless you come in through the right channel.

 Harry Sanford was a friendly neighbor. I walked past his house every school day, en route to Indiana Avenue School in South Haven, MI. He was just another black guy, until I discovered his Polynesian roots. I could not deny the beauty of his two daughters, a little older than me--two of the most beautiful females I ever met.

 In my adolescence, the Zwars’ came to our church after escaping Hitler’s horrors. White Europeans: they attended our white church. We were pleased … until we were horrified because they kept their old country custom of brewing beer in their basement. I have no idea how that turned out, except we were teetotalers.

 Ewald Wolfram was a beloved and outstanding church leader. One of my favorite preachers, he was a fellow student, and a near neighbor when growing up. In time, I  discovered his East Prussian roots and how his family and others escaped to America, accompanied by their Church of God faith and fervor.

When Ewald died the victim of a horrendous highway death, the Grim Reaper stole a friend from me and left many of my friends impoverished. This emigrant, with his prissy, precise manners, his degree of formality; his whole character marked him as different from our informalities. But, I smile remembering his Prussian demeanor; frankly, I miss it; he was a beloved friend and peer, legal or illegal!

Luz, pronounced “Loose”, became my friend in 1964--one of numerous Hispanic friends in my adult years. Luz and I have a mutual friend with a crazier name—Vasilis, one of my most cherished friends today. Vasilis, better known as Bill, “emigrated “to America. With a western education, enjoying the American dream, so to speak; he has spent his life working at making this a better world.

I accuse him of mixing his Greek and English sentence structures – typical of foreigners that can’t speak the language! And, I encounter them increasingly … Nabil, from Beirut; Suwan, owner-operator of a favorite Chinese Buffet; Michelle, a bank teller whose husband became a police dispatcher following their escape from Vietnam.

One day I sat down to eat and visited with two young men that literally swam out of China, to get here. Another day while walking, I talked to two men cleaning the parking lot of a downtown church. They were Indonesian and they were immigrants, BUT WE WERE FAMILY - Christians now congregating at First Baptist Church.

Social intercourse remains impossible, without encountering these aliens. They’re everywhere! You find them even in the most unusual places. Then, there’s the political rhetoric, pro’s and con’s of America’s problem with illegals and immigrants , legal or illegal.

My life would be impoverished today without their enrichment—including illegals! Thus my concern: which is less about their legality and more about our attitude. We have issues of the heart that need to grow beyond legal and illegal:

(1) What is your attitude toward “foreigners”; or, toward people different from you? Although the Pilgrims were fleeing religious bondage, they were also foreign invaders. White America was created as a nation of slavers; they tolerated savagery, and sometimes genocide.

(2) How do you view them? With fear? Do you look through them without seeing their humanity? Are they merely jobs threat? They’re non-Christians—heathen...? So is hedonistic, self-serving democratic American humanism.

(3) Can you even conceive of “them” deserving the same breaks you got in life? Can you view THEM not as “different, not as Muslims, not as terrorists, not as ex cons, not as illegals”, and see them as people wanting the same chance at life you had, people hungry to see the truth of God’s Good-news love revealed, even as you were?
Does this make me “liberal”! A dreamer?  I am hard-nosed realist enough, as a man of faith, to believe God meant what he said when he expressed great concern for foreigners and aliens. Moses instructed ancient Israel to love the aliens in their midst (Deuteronomy 10:19): treat them as if they were citizens (Leviticus 19:34). The Bible’s bluntness startled me when re-read that word in Deuteronomy. The purpose of such treatment was so ”they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God (Deut. 31:12).

Sending home all illegal aliens will not eliminate "our problem," but it does accent the spiritual nature of our problem. God’s Apostle to the Gentiles (non-Christians) said it this way: SO FROM NOW ON, WE REGARD NO ONE FROM A WORLDLY POINT OF VIEW … THEREFORE, IF ANYONE IS IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATION …” (2 Cor. 5:16-17 NIV).

From Warner’s World, this is
reminding you that when you walk with God you view people as HE views them,
not as the world views them . . .
legal or illegal.


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