I have been listening carefully to the immigration debates and discussions in this country and have come to the realization that most everyday people do not have a clear grasp of how our immigration system works and how it affects those migrating to the US. While not an expert, I have taken a 40 hour class on Immigration Law and can explain some of the rudimentary elements of our system.
First, when we hear about immigration on the news, the various categories of immigration are lumped together and important distinctions between a refugee, and asylee, and TPS are seldom made, making it confusing for people to grasp the implications for our country. I wish to lay out some simplified definitions and answer some of the questions I often hear everyday folks ask. Know that immigration includes many different categories and these are only three. (Home Land Security Chart on differences between refugees and asylee)
What is a Refugee?
A refugee is someone who leaves their country because of war or conflict and can show that he or she has a credible fear of persecution, on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion in their country of origin. A refugee often leaves his or her own country and travels to a refugee camp where they reside until at which time either their country of origin is safe once again or they are assigned a country that will take them in and help them resettle. Continue reading Overview: Refugees, Asylees, and TPS
Shortly after the #MeToo movement, another movement surfaced, #ChurchToo. #ChurchToo is about sexual harassment and abuse within the body of Christ. I am so grieved about the #ChurchToo movement as it hit’s at the vision for beloved community in Christ. And I have begun to ask the question, how do we live out the beloved community in Christ between men and women working together for the sake of the Kingdom of God? I have a couple of thoughts but first I want to lay out some Biblical support.
Ezekiel 34 tells the story of evil shepherds and good shepherds. Essentially, the evil shepherds have been feeding on the sheep instead of feeding the sheep. While the sheep are bleeding, hungry and suffering on the mountains, the evil shepherds are getting fat. And the Prophet asks the question, who will care for and bind up the wounds of the sheep? The answer is, the good shepherd. The good shepherd is, of course Jesus, the coming one who will bind up the wounds of the sheep, and tend to them in the sheepfold where they will flourish.
The prophet is helping God’s people to understand that the task of leaders and shepherds is the task of tending and caring for the sheep. I think the #ChurchToo movement is surfacing this issue in the church today so that we might become more whole as leaders and so that our communities might flourish. As those who long for the beloved community, we must be aware of the human lust for power, ego issues and self-gratification when in ministry. I want to lay out some principles that could help us move closer toward a healthy and safe community within which men and women are respected, and the sheep are fed. Continue reading #ChurchToo, Good Shepherds and Beloved Community
Romans 13:1-8 is a passage that has been used in ways that are unjust. It has been used to justify the divine right of kings, to justify slavery, to justify apartheid and segregation. This text has been used in support of the Just War Theory. It’s still used in the church to justify oppressive policing and discounting of immigrant’s basic human rights. If people would just obey the law, the logic goes, then they will be left alone. But is that what this passage means? Is Paul saying that that all laws are good? Is he saying that all people are treated equally under the law? Is he saying that laws should be obeyed without question? These things are often read into the passage making these verses something like a sword to keep oppressed people in their place. I don’t believe that was Paul’s intent.
Just because a particular action is legal does not mean it is just. As God’s people it’s imperative that we carefully discern and think through texts like these so that we might walk well in the way of Jesus. How shall we view this set of scriptures? Continue reading Re-thinking Romans 13
What is Philoxenia? When I first heard this word, I wondered if I had just stumbled upon a new kind of flower, Philoxenia… sort of like a Xenia or phlox or a Xenia crossed with a phlox to create a whole new flower. It’s not a flower, it is the Greek word for Hospitality. It literally means Philo or Love; Xenia or Stranger; put together it means LOVE OF STRANGER.
Hospitality then is the act of making strangers feel loved, as if they belong, welcome—like family. Hospitality is another thread that is woven throughout the entire Bible.
Growing up in the church, hospitality was more about making sure the coffee was on and the donuts and cookies were placed out on the serving table. We had a hospitality committee, usually made up of women, who made sure there were plenty of good things to eat and coffee to drink—cool-aid for the children and decaf for the senior folks. And we would gather in the fellowship hall after the morning service to share in a time of “fellowship”. Because what else would one do in a fellowship hall? I loved this time because it meant that I could play just a bit longer with my friends before we all went home for Sunday dinner. Continue reading Philoxenia: Love of the Stranger
How might we find our way Biblically around DACA? If the Bible is our compass and guide, what might we find that would give us direction as believers on various immigration issues such as DACA? And what insights can we gain to discern about the construction of walls? As one following the legislation currently being debated, lawmakers are considering tying the building of a wall between Mexico and the US to DACA legislation. As a means of self-disclosure, I favor a comprehensive immigration reform to create a better, more humane immigration system in this country.
What is DACA?
DACA recipients are the DREAMERS who long to be welcome and have a future within the country they grew up. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. What that means is that if a person came as a child, deportation action could be deferred. Those who came to this country as children did not have the ability to choose but came with their parents. Many young people who came as children grew up in this country and it is the only country they have ever known. According to a Supreme Court decision in the 1980’s, the court determined that it was in the best interests of this nation that unauthorized children should be allowed to receive a public education. We have approximately 790,000 unauthorized immigrants who have received DACA status. DACA was to be renewable every two years provided the conditions were met. Continue reading Why Every Bible-Believing Christian Should Support DACA
What does the Bible have to say about sexual harassment, sexual assault and the #MeToo experiences that are coming to light? And how might the Bible reveal how the distortion of power can create conditions for a #MeToo culture.
I believe God is a purging our country today and powerful people are being exposed because they have abused their power and have exploited men and women sexually. Many believe that sexual harassment and assault are primarily about sex and desire and indeed sex has something to do with it but harassment, assault ,abuse and rape are about entitlement, power and about powerful people exploiting the vulnerabilities of others. Sometimes that power is physical strength but often times that power is from a higher position entailing more social status or the power to offer jobs or take them away. Sometimes it is the power of an older adult exploiting the inexperience and gullibility of the young. Continue reading Biblical #MeToo Stories
The Bible is filled with images of Jesus eating with people, hanging out with people, welcoming people, eating with all sorts of seemly and unseemly people. He was accused of eating with tax collectors and sinners… seriously, the worst kind of people. While invited to the table of Simon the Pharisee (who did not wash his feet and welcome him) in Luke 7, he was adequately welcomed by the sinful woman who crashed the party and washed Jesus feet with her hair.
Even in the book of Acts one of their first controversies was over who they should eat with… Gentiles or their own kind and whether they should eat–meat sacrificed to idols or not? Paul and Peter clashed in the Epistles over the fact that Peter had avoided eating with Gentiles because the Judizer’s might disapprove and consider him defiled for sharing the table with Gentile believers. Somehow the idea of eating and drinking is tied up with the new community that has been created in Christ Jesus. Continue reading The Lord’s Supper Crosses All Borders