Posts Tagged ‘Low Income’

Most homeless people have already heard about Jesus. And most of them like Jesus. They just don’t care too much for Christians. Why is that? Because many of them believe Christians are unloving, mean, angry, hateful, bigoted, homophobic, judgmental and hypocritical. Who of us would want to join up with any group that met those descriptions?

There are many wonderful ministries that focus on the needs of the homeless. And I believe that Christians SHOULD help the homeless in practical ways, whenever they have the means and the ability to do so.

Sadly, however, there are many Christians, whether they are church-based or acting on their own, that fall short when it comes to ministering to the homeless.

Many have been taught to believe that the homeless are either lazy, mentally ill, and/or addicted to drugs and alcohol, and therefore are homeless by choice.

But the homeless are people just like us—sin-stained, fallible human beings who will either spend eternity with God and his saints, or be destroyed with the devil and the rest of the wicked.

So many Christians today feel that they need to evangelize the homeless—That it’s up to them to save these wretched souls. I know that this may sound unscriptural to many, but nothing could be further from the truth!

Jesus told his disciples to go into the world and make DISCIPLES of all nations. He did not tell them to go into the world and evangelize all nations. It is God who draws all men unto himself by his Holy Spirit.

So many times I have witnessed Christians stand behind a pulpit at a homeless shelter and tell the people there a story of how Jesus has blessed them in so many ways, and if they would just accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, he would set them free from the bondage of drugs and alcohol and sin.

This has almost always failed to convince people to follow Jesus because you will come across as having a “big me, little you” attitude. Besides, many of those “wretched sinners” are not there because they want to listen to you—They are there because they want the meal that comes afterward.

If you’re going to share the gospel with the homeless, know that many of them are more wise, more spiritual and more content than you are. The best way to share the gospel with people, (homeless or not) is to become Jesus for them.

I remember in my own early days of “evangelizing” the homeless that I met a man living in a homeless shelter who was dressed rather shabbily. After sharing the gospel with him, he explained that he was already a believer and had a full time job. I asked him, “If you have a full-time job and a car why do you live here at the homeless shelter?” His answer both humbled and shamed me. He said that he wanted to live at the shelter so that he could get to know the people there so he could better minister to their needs. This man sacrificed the comfort of his own home in order to be Jesus to those around him and caused me to repent of my shameful indifference and prejudice!

Our job is not to be the Holy Spirit to the homeless. And it is not our job to save them. Almost none of these folks go to church. The church has not been kind and loving to them in their opinion. In their hour of need, whether it was when a family member who was gravely ill or died, or when they lost their job, or when they lost their home, or even when they ended up on the street, the church was not there for them. The church was too busy sitting in a building singing praise songs and listening to sermons.

We’re not selling soap, insurance, or vacuum cleaners! So try to love people and build friendships and relationships with them. THAT is how we reach people.

Our job is only to speak the truth in love. That’s what Jesus did. There is nowhere in the New Testament where Jesus spoke down to sinners. In fact, he welcomed them with open arms. It was the religious people of his day that had a problem with the drunkards and prostitutes that surrounded him.

Awaken from your slumber, church!

Awaken and walk among the people of this world. Touch them, hug them, love them. Share the love of Jesus with them, that they may see the real Jesus—Not the Jesus they think they know. You are the church. For many of these people, you are the only church, the only Bible, the only truth they will hear. And for them, you are the hands and feet of Jesus.

And remember, just as you are Jesus to them, they are also Jesus to you.

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The Columbine High School massacre, the Sandy Hook shooting, and the mass shooting at the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, were all perpetrated by white males, who obviously suffered from mental illness—Stark reminders that crazy people live among us. Many have debated whether we should create more institutions for the mentally ill in order to protect us from these dangerous individuals.

But what should we do about the typical gang violence in major cities that we see broadcasted on the local news? Every night it seems that a similar story is told: “Police have responded to the scene of a shooting; Police believe the shooting was gang-related; No suspects have been arrested.”

People living in neighborhoods with known gang populations where these types of shootings frequently happen represent a legitimate fear of private citizens, parents, children and business owners who live, work, and go to school in these neighborhoods.

Five year old Payton Benson was killed when three callous gunmen peppered her street with a barrage of bullets and one of the bullets shot and killed the little girl as she sat eating her breakfast.

Stephen Arps and Johnnesha Brown were shot just outside Brown’s parents’ home near 45th Street and Grand Avenue in Omaha, Ne.

Even those trying to change the gang environment in their neighborhood are not immune to it. An anti-gang activist’s 16-year-old son, Charles Trotter, who has acknowledged ties to the 37th Street Crips in Omaha, has been charged in the shooting deaths of two men at a party.

Can we just pray it away?
An Omaha group called ‘First Responders’ have been meeting together at places where community members have been violently murdered. They meet to pray for the victims’ families and believe they will help reduce violence in Omaha by mobilizing people from churches and neighborhoods all over Omaha to pray together. Two prayer walks were already held in Omaha soon after the New Year began in response to two shootings that left three people dead.

Unfortunately, prayer alone won’t deter gang violence. It hasn’t worked in Chicago, It hasn’t worked in Detroit, and it won’t work in cities where the minority black population works overtime to fight against violent crime in their neighborhoods.

Don’t misunderstand, I believe in prayer. And I believe that we should rally around the friends and families of victims of gang violence and support them in prayer. I also believe that many of God’s miracles are wrought in the bowels of the prayers of godly men and women. But if prayer alone would stop violence, then we should be holding prayer-walks along the Mexican/ US border and in every country where violence is destroying lives.

We need to understand that gang violence grows out of a distorted mind-set. When David Wilkerson went to New York to minister to the gangs there, he didn’t hold prayer-walks at the scene of murders. Instead, led by God’s spirit, he reached out to the gang members in order to change their mind-set of violence.

Sometimes, one of the biggest hindrances to reducing gang violence is the news media sensationalizing every gun-related crime that happens. These stories get played over and over again with the pictures of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes plastered across the TV screen until they’re burned into peoples’ memory. They give these criminals their 5-minutes of fame while the victims are barely mentioned!

Most people recognize the names of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, but how many would recognize the names Kelly Fleming, Matthew Kechter, or William Sanders? Many in the Omaha area will recognize Nikko Jenkins’ name, but do they know who Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz and Juan Uribe-Pena were?

During the time of Noah, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) There it is—the people of Noah’s day had a mind-set of violence! All the bloodshed, murders, etc. that take place are the fruit of a mind-set of violence. And God blames all violence on a mind-set. (Thoughts and intents of the heart) “In your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth.” (Psalm 58:2)

It starts with the children.
Changing a mind-set has to start with the children. If a child grows up with love, attention, compassion and understanding, then he will not pull out a gun and kill others when he is older.
Being a parent is the most important job in this world. And we need to take seriously the responsibility of teaching them love, respect and everything else that will assist them in growing up to be moral and loving adults.

How can we expect a teen or a young adult to be an asset to society if he is brought up in an environment where there is no love or respect in the home? Many of those that kill are hurting—and they’re angry. They hate their life, and because they cannot stand it, they lash out in violence.

As Christians and as fellow human beings, we should look out for those who are hurting, sad and angry, and let them know that they are not alone. Usually, we ignore the signs because it’s so much easier to walk away.

Robert Wildeboer, a criminal and legal affairs reporter, discovered that the city of Toronto has about one seventh the number of murders than Chicago, even though the two cities are of equal size. He observed that a key difference is that the public in Toronto demands a crime-free society, and that this expectation filters through the neighborhoods, the news media, politicians, lawmakers, and law enforcement. http://www.wbez.org/series/under-gun-murder-chicago-and-toronto
To me, this observation suggests a striking possibility: that by refusing to accept criminal behavior as acceptable, we can actually reduce it.

David Wilkerson saw firsthand the advantages of using the weight of his thoughts on the side of respect, love and forgiveness. Rather than thinking of individuals as irredeemably corrupt, or concluding that violence will always be a part of their life, he believed that God’s constant influence of calm, clarity, integrity, and goodness would have a better and lasting effect. http://www.historymakers.info/inspirational-christians/david-wilkerson.html

Separating the crime from the individual is difficult, but without addressing the underlying cause, the crime will continue—and there will be a thousand others to carry it out. The prisons are already filled with them.

Instead, each of us must think properly and prayerfully about the issue of violent crime. Rather than responding with fear, we can insist that violence in our cities and our lives is not an unavoidable fact of life.

I believe that if we join hands in prayer with our neighbors facing violent crime we can succeed in separating crime from our humanity and realize that violence is not a “necessary evil.” There is no criminal legitimacy. Crime is opportunistic, cowardly and non-intelligence. Our responsibility to our neighbors around us is to reject the idea that crime has any legitimacy, and separate it entirely from our humanity.

This prayerful approach will not only enable us to support our neighbors, but will also lead to appropriate law enforcement measures to curb violence and give us safer cities and neighborhoods. It is only then that our communities will begin to be filled with good citizens and neighbors and bring us all closer to our rightful inheritance.

A wind-chill advisory was in effect today until noon for the Omaha area and parts to the south toward Nebraska City, Falls City and Beatrice and sections west that included Lincoln, Grand Island, Kearney and Hastings. The advisory was also issued for extreme northwest Iowa and most of southwest Iowa.

As a bitter cold front is making its way into the Metro area in Omaha this week, furnaces will be set on high, and people will be bundled up trying to keep warm as they venture outdoors. Wind chill will set record temperatures as low as 30 below zero. With temperatures forecast to be below zero for highs, being outside can be deadly.

The cold ripped through my body in just the few minutes it took me to take out the trash today—so how can someone survive for long periods of time outdoors in this? Where do the homeless go when temperatures get dangerous?

Local shelters have been preparing to absorb more people because of the cold.
Mike Saklar, Executive Director of the Siena/Francis House in Omaha said, “This is very dangerous weather.” Mike has seen this before. He sees the homeless every day and knows that when the weather gets dangerously cold like it means that some will show up suffering from the cold. Although Mike and the staff at the Sienna/Francis House always expect an increase in visitors in cold weather, it’s an overwhelming challenge now because of the already extreme overcrowding.

The Sienna/Francis House has a policy of never turning anyone away who shows up. Rather than referring to visitors as clients, Mike and his staff refer to the homeless as guests. Mike considers himself as a kind of Shepard; and like any good shepherd, he knows that he’ll have to try and look for some of the lost sheep on the cold streets of Omaha. “We’ll send out patrols every hour looking for people.” He said. “And we’ll do it all night.”

Teens are especially vulnerable when the weather turns cold. Because of young people aging out of foster care system or an abusive family situation, many youth end up on the streets to fend for themselves. Shawn Miller of Youth Emergency Services said he would locate shelter for any teenager who needed it. He expected 60 or more teens to show up for Tuesday’s pantry night near 26th and Harney Streets. “We’ll do whatever we can to make them safe for the night,” said Miller, outreach coordinator for YES. That includes transportation to a shelter, a friend’s home or anywhere else they’ve found to stay.

It only takes a moment.
It can only take a matter of minutes for someone to suffer from frostbite in bitter cold. Dr. Mindy Lacey, of UNMC, said, “The most common areas that we see that get frost bite are the ears, nose, fingers and toes.” The worst effect of frostbite is with the onset of tingling or numbness and not understanding what’s happening. For the vulnerable or those who simply don’t know better, waiting too long after being exposed to the cold, could cause them to suffer irreparable damage.

Places like the Open Door Mission in Omaha are seeing a lot more people who need a place to keep warm too. “All of our beds on campus are filled, but we can always drag out another mat, we can get more blankets, linens and pillows,” said Candace Gregory, CEO of the Open Door Mission. “The Open Door Mission is already overflowing.” She said. “All of the shelter’s 860 beds are full, and on Monday night there were nearly 200 men, women and children sleeping on mats.” The Lydia House, a shelter for women and children at the Open Door Mission, has also seen an increase of 37 percent. They are maxed out at that facility.

Del Bomberger, executive director of the Stephen Center, said his shelter has plenty of mats and floor space in the gym at its temporary location in the old St. Mary Catholic School, at 5310 S. 36th St.

There are approximately 2000 homeless men, women and children in the Omaha Metro Area each night. Brutal weather has left workers scrambling to provide enough space, blankets, coats and gloves for those seeking refuge from the cold.

How you can help
Below is a list of critical needs for homeless shelters. You can drop these off at any of the local shelters in your area.

• Blankets, sheets, and pillows
• Gloves, hats, and coats of all sizes
• Men’s and women’s wool socks
• Thermal underwear – size small, medium, large and X-large
• Winter boots of all sizes

Living on the streets is dangerous any time of year, but that’s especially dangerous when temperatures dip below freezing. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately 700 homeless people die from hypothermia every year. But unless someone is underage, you can’t force them to come inside. If you know someone is living outside and you can’t get them to seek shelter, call the police and let them know, so they can take them to one of the shelters, because…

No one should die just because they’re homeless.

Their stories are as varied as their circumstances. Some of the homeless have graduate degrees; others served with honor in the military; still others once held high-paying jobs. What causes homelessness? A serious illness or disability, a lost job, and domestic violence are among many reasons. But even so, there are some important lessons we can learn from the homeless:

1. Be content with what you have
You might be surprised to know that there are a lot of homeless people who are quite content with their lot in life. Many are happy to be out of the rat race and free of the trappings that the rest of us have in our lives. Not only that, many homeless people remain upbeat and positive despite what life has thrown their way.

2. Be Thrifty
Homeless people know the value of a dollar in a way few of us can understand. And they know how to make it last. Every quarter, dime, nickel or penny that comes their way is used in the most efficient way possible. You won’t ever see a homeless person paying for a $5 coffee at Starbucks when they can get it for free at any day shelter across the city. We could learn a thing or two from them about spending wisely.

3. Be Resourceful
We’re conditioned from a pretty early age to get a good education, work hard, earn a good paycheck and then buy what we want. But many homeless people don’t have the benefit of a good education—or a good paycheck. But they do know where every food pantry and soup kitchen is; when every bakery disposes of their day-old products; and where the best thrift stores are. They feed and clothe themselves on their own initiative and savvy. We should all try to cultivate this kind of resourcefulness.

4. Help others
Being homeless is no picnic for those unfortunate enough to find themselves on the street. However, if you were to watch them closely you would discover that many of them share what they have with other homeless people. This should challenge us to share what we have with those around us as well. There are a thousand daily comforts we take for granted that homeless people never get to enjoy. We have these luxuries that we keep to ourselves while others go without. We should share with others out of the abundance that we have, because in the end, we’re no different than anyone else, and tragedy could befall us as well.

5. Persevere
A homeless person will stand at a corner all day begging for change or for any kind of work. I know there are stories of some people begging on street corners who are not really homeless, but they are the exception rather than the norm. Most of those you see on street corners really are homeless. They tough it out for as long as it takes, every day, to get enough money to eat and maybe a bed for the night. They don’t get sick days or vacations and many of them refuse welfare handouts, choosing instead to work for every penny they get.

Many of them look at their homelessness as a ministry. They persevere because they know that they are homeless for God’s greater purpose—the same purpose that God put us in our homes, at our jobs, and with our families. No matter what our economic status is, we should all be willing to learn from the homeless.

The Bible speaks plainly about homelessness:

“If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.” (Leviticus 25:35-36)

“Then the King will say to those on the right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:34-40)

Many people ignore the homeless, I think because they believe there is little they can do to “fix them”. But it seems to me that we’re the ones who need to be fixed. Anyway, it’s not God’s intention that we “fix” the homeless any more than it is His intention that the homeless fix us.

The apostle Paul wrote that we are one body in Christ. (Romans 12:5) Everyone—rich, poor, every race, every age—has a legitimate role to play in that body. We may go to a homeless shelter, or an orphanage, or a nursing home with the intention of helping someone else, but ultimately, we will be helping each other become the body God envisioned from before creation.

Mother Teresa, who worked with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta for most of her life said, “God makes no distinctions between rich and poor. In fact, the rich are often poor in spirit, while the poor may have many qualities the financially wealthy lack.”

Think about this: Every one of us is spiritually homeless. We live in temporary bodies, in a temporary house, on a temporary planet. No matter how modest or grand our living situation is now, we are all waiting to take our permanent places in God’s kingdom.

The most important thing we can learn from the homeless is that God has not forsaken them—and He’ll not forsake us either.

Ahh, Christmas time has come to us again! That time of year when joy fills the hearts of people everywhere. When we find people bustling through department stores and shopping malls to purchase that perfect gift for those they love—that one time of the year when we have peace on earth and good will toward all men. Right? Really? Ask any homeless person if they feel there is good will toward all men.

Homeless people are not respected by and large. Many of them will receive a Christmas dinner at a shelter and a few stocking-stuffers, and then it’s back on the street. The number one thing that they need and often deserve, even if you don’t know them, is respect. Respect them as a human being and fellow traveler on this journey we call life.

Living on the street is not like camping. You must be consistently on the move, and ready to get up and leave when you are asked to do so. If you are on the street, it is usually because circumstances beyond your control have forced you into that position in life. Living on the street, life is far harder than you could ever possibly imagine if you have never been there. Homeless people have needs like everyone else in this world. Their needs are usually very basic and to give of your time just to talk to them sometimes can really help. But if they don’t want to talk to you, respectfully back away. Otherwise, listen to what they have to say even if it makes absolutely no sense to you. It doesn’t have to. They are talking because they are alone and feel that they are without hope. And being without hope will eventually kill you.

There are many things that people on the streets will need to survive. For the homeless to lack some of these items could well lead to their death. To survive, they need things—small things. Like soap, shaving gear, postage stamps, pencils, and paper. Even having a good book will help to alleviate the burdens they carry around mentally every day.

The list above is good, but it does not cover the whole issue of how they will get money. Money is the key ingredient that everyone needs, but many will abuse it. If you really want to help a homeless person, give them a job if you can do so. There are many carpenters, electricians, and factory workers that are now homeless. Please do NOT discriminate against them; because everyone else is already doing that.

So during this Christmas season of giving, if you have anything that you can give, do so. Some people will argue that this only encourages them to stay on the street. It’s true that it will encourage a few of them to remain where they are, but there are those out there who, by simply giving them a bottle of water, a hot meal, or simply a smile and a kind word, will possibly save their life.

Some simple gifts that most of us can give:
• Instead of giving them money directly, go out and purchase Subway gift cards, and the like. Think about this, Subway and many of the sandwich places are selling subs for fewer than five dollars! By giving a homeless person a gift card for 10 or 20 dollars you may well give them food for three to four days! A lot of homeless eat very little and their stomachs are no longer as strong as they used to be. Sandwiches, especially from healthy places like subway, provide a great deal of nutrition that they desperately need.
• Do not give a homeless person greasy food! You know what that does to you and what ends up in the toilet? Try eating that and not having the opportunity to use a bathroom!
• One of the greatest problems that the homeless have right now is the need to bathe and finding a place where they can do that at. Most locations will force them from the property because of health risks, but most homeless people know where they can go to clean up. If you want to help, give them small bottles of antibacterial liquid soap. (Bar soap is harder to store and they may be allergic to some types of scented hand soap)
• An inexpensive sturdy back pack can prove to be invaluable to a homeless person. They can use it to safely store all of their items while still being able to remain mobile.
• You can usually find inexpensive seasonally appropriate clothing at a local thrift store to give to the homeless—Coats and accessories such as mittens and stocking hats in the winter and shorts and flip flops for the summer.
• The reason that you see homeless people carrying around cardboard is that the cardboard provides a layer of protection between them and the cold concrete they often sleep on. A Yoga pad that can be rolled up would help considerably. (And they’re not as unattractive as a rolled up piece of cardboard)
• Blankets are important too. Even when it’s warm during the day, weather can turn cold at night and a person should stay covered when they sleep.
• There are many things that can be done, if we simply think of the homeless as our fellow human beings and give them the respect that all humans deserve.

Don’t leave taking care of the homeless just up to the shelters. Remember what Jesus said: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (See Matthew 25:31-46)

 

“Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.”
(Genesis 13:13)

What was the sin of Sodom that was so great and outrageous in the eyes of God? What was the sin that so angered him, so outraged him, that he annihilated the city with fire and brimstone? Many think it was the sin of homosexuality and point to the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah found in Genesis chapters 18-19. Although Sodom is mentioned many times in both Old and New Testaments and is synonymous with great and outrageous wickedness, the truth is that Sodom’s greatest sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. (Ezekiel 16:49)

Just like Sodom, America has lost her way. She no longer knows right from wrong. She has turned away from the way of truth and light found in the Bible and followed in the way of lust, wickedness, immorality and evil. She has lost contact with Biblical moral standards – that set of attitudes, outlooks and values that the Bible represents. She has rejected God and followed his great adversary, the Devil, who is the master of illusion and deception. She has lost her faith in God and instead put her faith and confidence in the god of this world.

People have exchanged the truth of God for the false ideas, dogmas, religious traditions, doctrines of men and secular humanism. Spiritual darkness has descended on the land. The evidence is everywhere. There can be no better or more convincing evidence of this than the way the country has condoned and embraced that great sin of pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffer on our streets.

The fact that we now live in a country in which so many people view themselves as Christians and yet condone and accept behavior that is so radically at odds with the outlooks and attitudes of the Bible shows the extent to which even Christianity has become twisted, contorted, corrupted and perverted in this land.

A person is not a Christian just because he/or she calls themselves a Christian or because they are a member of some church or denomination, or because they recited some robotic prayer to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Just believing in God doesn’t make one a Christian either. Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! (James 2:19)

Christianity is about substance. It’s about what and who you really are inside. It’s about a faith and love in God that is accompanied by serious godly, upright living. It’s about an attitude and commitment of the heart–a commitment that results in virtuous, good, moral living. It’s a mind-set, a way of thinking, a philosophy, a set of outlooks, attitudes and values based on God’s Word. It’s a lifestyle against sin and a lifestyle of goodness and virtue.

The Christmas season is supposed to be about celebrating the birth of Jesus. But more than any other time of the year you will find people rushing through retail stores pushing, shoving and fighting over trinkets that will be broken or discarded within a year–while others are praying for a warm meal and a safe place for their children to sleep. A person who considers himself a Christian and sees nothing wrong with this gross depravity is deceived.

As C.S. Lewis puts it in his short essay ‘The Weight of Glory’: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

The world is hungry, lonely and hurting. It needs to know the loving, accepting God of the Bible–not the haughty, uncaring and judgmental God that we have shown the world for too long.

So instead of ignoring the poor as you mindlessly drop a few coins into the Salvation Army bucket on your way out of the store, maybe you could buy a few extra things. Take them home and wrap them up to give to a few homeless people in your city. You see, sometimes God doesn’t just want our money. Sometimes he wants us to be Jesus to someone who is hungry, lonely and hurting.

Here is what God has said regarding the poor:

“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31)

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17)

 

 

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (I John 1:5-7)

Illegal immigration has become a controversial hot button issue in the United States today. Some argue that the immigration laws are unfair, unjust, and even discriminatory. Others claim that the lack of enforcement of immigration laws give individuals justification to immigrate here illegally.

Some Christian critics of illegal immigration often quote Romans 13:1–7 to justify massive deportation of illegal immigrants. Yes, God expects us to obey the laws of the government, but He also gives us an exception to this is whenever a law of the government forces us to disobey a command of God. (Acts 5:29) Yes, illegal immigration is the breaking of a governmental law, but does God give us an exception to this law?

Leviticus 19:33-34 states: “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

And in Deuteronomy 10:18 we read: “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”

Jesus himself said, “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)

The vast majority of illegal immigrants in the United States have come for the purpose of having a better life, providing for their families, and escaping from poverty and violence.

Why should the immigrant or the “foreigner who resides among you” be such a concern to the Jewish and Christian faiths and what bearing does it have on the current immigration debate in our country?

God didn’t want the ancient Hebrews to forget where they had come from, or how they had gotten where they were. They had come from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. They knew what it was like to be exploited and taken advantage of. Now that they had land and wealth God didn’t want them to forget that that hadn’t always been the case.

Most Americans are the descendants of immigrants.
When European settlers arrived on the North American continent at the end of the fifteenth century, they encountered diverse Native American cultures—as many as 900,000 inhabitants with over 300 different languages. These indigenous people welcomed the new visitors with open arms and were willing to share the bounty of their land. But years later they were virtually destroyed by the subsequent immigration that created the United States. This tragedy is the direct result of ‘governmental laws’ enforced through broken treaties, warfare with the Native Americans, and of through forced assimilation.

For Native Americans, the world after 1492 marked the beginning of the long road of persecution and genocide of Native Americans. Genocide was an important cause of the decline for many tribes. By conservative estimates, the population of the United States prior to European contact was greater than 12 million. Four centuries later, the count was reduced by 95% to 237 thousand! The Removal Act of 1830 set into motion a series of events which led to the “Trail of Tears” in 1838, a forced march of the Cherokees, resulting in the destruction of most of the Cherokee population.

I must confess that until recently I was strongly opposed to allowing illegal immigrants into our country. But God has shown me that as Christians, we have to separate our attitude toward the act of entering the country illegally from our attitude toward the illegals themselves. The first obligation of a Christian is to express godliness in all our thoughts and deeds. There is no room for hatred toward those who come into the country, (Even when it’s done illegally) desperately seeking work, refuge from danger and persecution, or a better life for themselves and their families. We are to show Christian compassion toward those who would risk their lives in a dangerous, and often fatal, attempt to cross a border. Acts of hatred or violence toward illegal aliens is never to be considered or tolerated by those who profess to be followers of Jesus.

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Mat 25:37-40)