Saturday, January 28, 2017

Freezing the Refugee Program, Breaking My Heart

So many emotions are whirling through my head as I search for facts on various news websites to piece together what Friday's executive order really means:

I feel anger at the withdrawal of support to refugees,

I feel frustration at my inability to do something about this situation,

I feel grumpiness at the slowness of WhiteHouse.Gov in posting the executive order on its site so I can read it in full to better understand it,

I feel pity for those stopped at the border in mid-travel by this order and those delayed for a minimum of 3-4 months,

I feel resignation because I really should have expected this based on our President's campaign trail,

I feel joyful satisfaction that Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau's reaction to this order is "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada",

I reject a bit of sarcastic snarkiness bubbling up inside me at the how ill-fitting the Statue of Liberty's motto now is for the US,

I feel sadness because America's acceptance of the tired, poor, huddled masses was one of my points of pride in my country, The ideals of my country are swerving away from the instructions of my faith. Will I support the killing of my enemies or will I fight to love them and pray for them? Will I choose to reject the foreigner, the alien, the widow, the orphan, the least of these that my God commands me to love, serve, and help? Will I choose America First or valuing others above myself?

I feel fear as read a book on Bonhoeffer that discusses Nazi Germany's restrictions on Jewish freedom and then read news stories on the freezing of the refugee program,

I feel hope as Christian refugee resettlement agencies are reaching out to those who are delayed by this order and are speaking out against this freeze,

I feel sadness because I work with refugees, I serve refugees, I live among refugees. I welcome refugees because of my Christian faith.

So many emotions battling inside me at this news, but sadness overshadows the rest. My heart is aching, it is breaking over this news and its ramifications.

I turn to this subject in the Bible for direction. I know that Jesus identifies with the stranger, the hungry, the imprisoned in Matthew 25. Peter in 1 Peter 1 wrote with the instruction that "Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear" and Paul told believers in Philippians 3 that "our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

I am a foreigner. My citizenship is in heaven. I stand with refugees. I stand as a foreigner in my homeland.

Friday, January 20, 2017

What Should I Pray For Myself?

Have you ever examined why we do or say a particular thing in our Christian walk, and then wonder why we do a certain thing? Or do you read a passage in the Bible and wonder why we do not do a certain thing? I do wonder and question sometimes.

I was reading Acts 4, the passage where Peter and John are brought before the Jewish council and told to stop speaking and teaching in Jesus' name. They refused, because they must listen to God over man. After this encounter, Peter and John went back to the rest of the believers to fill them in. Then they started to pray. They realized that the Psalms predicted Jesus' betrayal by several groups. Next, they made their petition of God.

"Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”" (Acts 4:29-30)

This prayer blows me away. Why? Because they know that persecution is coming. They have been threatened. There are many things that they could pray for: laws to protect them, safety for believers, a speedy second coming so they can skip the persecution. But they prayed for boldness in speaking His word.

My top prayer for myself is not for my safety. It is for effectiveness and faithfulness in serving my Lord. I do not needlessly take risks, but I cannot pretend that my top goal is safety. When I look at Jesus' life and prayers, He prayed for God's will to be done, even at the cost of His comfort and very life. My example in living is Jesus. If the One who I follow cares more about God's will being done than His own safety, why should my life be any different?

I do pray for the safety of the persecuted church, but my top prayer is for God's glory to be seen and for the persecuted to remain faithful, even to the point of death. I know that if the choice has to be made, I earnestly want them to refuse to recant their faith, even if they are executed.

I humbly submit that we the church in the US needs to be less concerned with its rights, its comfort, its safety, its separateness, and more concerned with boldly speaking God's Word (in love-Ephesians 4:15), serving the least of these (because in serving them, we serve Jesus-Matthew 25:31-end), and remaining faithful to the end.