These are unprecedented times. The world is also faced with the biggest refugee crisis since World War 11.
For hours, I looked into their eyes as the images flashed across the television screen and I saw fear, sadness, uncertainty and for many anger and frustration. I felt their pain. I cried with those who cried. By all account, these individuals are among the most vulnerable and traumatised people in our society today.
While that is reality for millions, many are divided over what is right, and best or worse what is wrong about the way in which immigrants, refugees and displaced people are [to be] treated. Some argue, ‘turn them away and we’ll be safe again in our homes, our cities and our country.’ Others argue, what legislators are doing is wrong, don’t turn them away! It is inhumane, it’s unconstitutional and immoral to do so, It goes against our values. It is not what we stand for.’ And in the words of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “executive order was mean-spirited and un-american.”
Well, a new sheriff is in town and with that we have a series of new executive orders that has ultimately altered the course of life of millions. What’s at stake? Who is at risk? A 90 day travel ban from 7 Muslim majority countries and a suspended Syrian refugee program for 120 days, thus barring Syrian refugees from entering the US. If only for a short time, arguably so, at the stroke of a pen and within minutes many were forced to swallow the pill of rejection.
But as civil minded people in society, as descendents of parents/ our forefathers who themselves at one point bore one or more of the labels [immigrants, refugees and displaced people] and moreover as Christians; what does the Bible [God our Creator’s word] say about how we should treat such individuals?
I must say, it is God’s manual and guide to us for successful daily living. Its’ wisdom is both timeless and simple. Here are a few passages of scriptures on how we are to treat immigrants, refugees and displaced people in need of help –
1.) Do not mistreat foreigners who are living in your land. Treat them as you would an Israelite [native-born], and love them as you love yourselves. Remember that you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:33-34)
2.) I am the Lord, and I consider all people the same, whether they are Israelites or foreigners living among you. (Numbers 15:16)
3.) See that justice is done – help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows. (Isaiah 1:17)
4.) Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
5.) For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 25:35-36)
6.) But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him for dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-37)
7.) Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)
8.) Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)
9.) He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)
10.) If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1 John 3:17)
11.) Long ago I gave these commands to my people: ‘You must see that justice is done, and must show kindness and mercy to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners who live among you, or anyone else in need. (Zechariah 7:9)
12.) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
The word of the Lord stands and should always be the guiding principle and the loudest voice in favor of helping immigrants, refugees and displaced people who continue to flee their war ravaged countries on a daily basis and in search of a better life.