Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Exodus 22:21
"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt."

My bible is an awesome study Bible that has really detailed footnotes in it, and the note for this verse says: "God warned the Israelites to not treat aliens unfairly because they themselves were once strangers in Egypt. It is not easy coming into a new environment where you feel alone and out of place. Are there strangers in your corner of the world? Refugees? New arrivals at school? Immigrants from another country? Be sensitive to their struggles, and express God's love by your kindness and generosity."


I wonder why that's in there twice ... Perhaps it was God's way of saying, "Hey, listen up. Pay attention to this, it's important." And I do have a lot of immigrants around me. I live in America ... there are many countries in this world that would be empty tomorrow if only the people there could catch a mass flight complete with Green Card to America. And that's okay with me. It's human nature to want something better than what you've always had, to want something better for your future and for your children. And even in the midst of all our political struggles right now, in spite of the current droop in our economy, I'm proud to be American, and I can hold my head high in the knowledge that I love my country.

In my country, I can vote ... or not. It's up to me. The black guy that lives next door to me can, too. I can walk around outside in a bikini if I want to (though that would be scary), and if by chance someone sees my body and is weird enough to be turned on, I am not stoned or beaten because of my immodesty and my tempting men. If that same immodesty leads to me being assaulted or raped, I am not legally seen to be "asking for it" the way women are in some countries. Because here, I am worth more than what my body can give. I am a human being, equal to those around me, and free. I can do just about whatever I want to. And I recognize that as a privilege afforded to Americans that does not exist in come countries (thank you for my freedom, Matt Schmidt, Brian Panton, Jimmy Reed and all those in the military now or ever).

So I am sensitive to the issues of the immigrants here. I realize that life must have been hard in their homeland in order for them to make the tough choice to move to another country. And I'm glad we have such a mix here. I love the mix of skin colors, and the mix of heritages. I love it that in some places in this country, you can get crepes, ravioli, scones, steak and burritos, all on the same street. I love the mix of accents, and I have a weird love of almost any foreign accent.

What I don't love is the amount of people whose homeland shall remain un-named, who come to America searching for a better life and yet they are unwilling to adapt to life in this country. They don't respect our flag or our laws, and in fact they are exempt from many of them. They make no effort to learn our nations language, and yet we are expected to be able to communicate with them. Because of this we have had to learn much of their language. How is that right? I don't like it that many of them live here on welfare that Fiance helps to pay for.

That's not coming here for a better life. It's coming here for a free ride, and I'm often furious that this country puts up with it.

And that's why when I saw these verses in my Bible today, I felt conflicted. And convicted of God to try and change my thinking. To try to become more patient, more loving, more understanding. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not some racist bigot who hates all people who aren't white. That's an extreme way of seeing this post, and it's not the case with me at all. I am pretty accepting of all people, and generally very friendly and open with everyone.

But I could try harder. After all, how long have these "lazy" immigrants been here? I don't know. Perhaps they haven't had time to learn our language, since they are still trying to settle in and create a whole new life in a strange land. Perhaps they are on welfare because they haven't gotten jobs yet, and therefore don't have a solid roof overhead. Perhaps they sit over dinner wherever they live, and they think of what things were like back home. Perhaps they miss it there. But being broke in a foreign country where they don't know the language, they can't communicate that, and they can't do much about it.

Then again, had they gone through the proper channels to live here, they would know the language, and perhaps have a place to stay, maybe even a job waiting. But we all make mistakes, don't we?

And as a follower of Christ, I am charged to forgive and to love these immigrants anyway. Because I've been the new kid in class, and I've been the new kid in the neighborhood. I know what it's like to feel unwanted and unaccepted. And perhaps, just perhaps, if these immigrants were more happily drawn into the fold of American life and the English language ... they would be encouraged to become true Americans.

I have a lot of changing to do, and I'm excited to see what God will do with this new bit of compassion in my life.


Exodus 23:9
"Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.