I find it interesting that the gospel message presented in the Western world emphasizes the forgiveness salvation brings to guilty sinners yet in biblical times, people in Israel and surrounding lands lived in cultures that seemed just as concerned about alleviating shame with honor and fear with power (Psalm 44:13–15; Isaiah 54:4). Read more
Category Archives: Faith Journey and Providence
People are on the move. In 2017, approximately 258 million people, or 3.4% of the world’s population, live outside their country of origin. Migrants include legal and illegal immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, guest workers, missionaries, international students and expatriate businessmen.
According to the United Nations 49.8 million migrants reside in the United States. Saudi Arabia, Germany and Russia host around 12 million each while the U.K. hosts about 9 million. In 2017 India had 17 million native born persons living abroad followed by Mexico with 13 million. Other countries with substantial migrant populations living abroad include Russia (11 million), China (10 million), Bangladesh (7 million), Syria (7 million), Pakistan (6 million) and Ukraine (6 million).
Despite the small percentage of people involved worldwide, immigration is a contentious topic. Citizens in wealthy nations, where 2/3 of migrants end up, sometimes feel threatened by an influx of people who bring different values and customs to their land. Some fear immigrants will take their jobs. Resentment that tax dollars go to support immigrants heightens when stories of lawlessness on the part of immigrants surface.
Most of us have heard arguments for and against current U.S. immigration policy. But how closely have we examined migration from a biblical perspective? Do we have confidence that our words about immigration and that our actions toward immigrants conform to God’s will?
Two Christian Views on Immigration
Within the past two weeks I have heard on Christian radio two disparate views on migration.
One program1 featured a talk given by a former U. S. congresswoman in which she portrayed migration as a threat to the survival of Western civilization. She cited as evidence numerous accounts of attacks on western women by immigrant Muslim men. She asserted that many Muslim refugees do not intend to assimilate into Western society, preferring to live in enclaves where sharia law supersedes the law of their host nation. The goal of Muslim immigrants, she claimed, is to establish an Islamic state in their host nation. Furthermore, she says demographics will make such a takeover possible because the Western world has decided to stop having children.
The congresswoman quoted Deuteronomy 32:8 to support her position that moving one nation into another goes against Scripture. She said that God called Abraham out of mankind’s rebellion at Babel to bless the nations by forming a blessed nation (Israel) that other nations must bless rather than curse (Genesis 12:3). She pointed to Matthew 25:31-38 and Joel 3:1-2; 12-14 as evidence that the nations will be judged on how they treat the nation of Israel.
The other radio program2 featured a seminary professor who described migration as part of the human DNA, saying that every country has been built on migration starting with God’s command to go and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). God was the catalyst for worldwide migration in Genesis 11. (Of course, problems arise when people migrate to a place where other people already live.)
He said, “migration is a metaphor for the Christian life” citing 1 Peter 2:11. He made the point that not only should we be a blessing to migrants, but also that migrants bring blessing with them. Migrants can actively bless their new community (Jeremiah 29:4-7). Also, he reminded the audience that immigrants are made in the image of God and that Jesus died for them. They too can rule the earth and they can bring something to their host country.
The professor noted that the Great Commission is a call to migration.
Migration and the Spread of the Gospel
This last observation reminded me of one of the lessons in a course called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. (For those who aren’t familiar with Perspectives, it is a class to help Christians gain biblical, historical, cultural and strategic perspective on Christian mission and become more involved. Some mission organizations require the course.) The lesson shows that historically, the gospel spread both by voluntary and involuntary migration and by migration of Christians and non-Christians.
For example, missionaries, in obedience to the Great Commission, voluntarily migrate to lands where Jesus is not known. Ruth voluntarily migrated to Israel to follow their God. Daniel involuntarily migrated to Babylon where he had significant impact. The Celts and Goths voluntarily migrated to the Roman Empire for spoil and were evangelized. The Vikings took Christian monks as slaves and Christian girls as wives back to their homeland (involuntary migration) where their captives, over time, evangelized them. African slaves involuntarily migrated to North America where many became Christians.
As the above examples demonstrate, man’s wickedness cannot thwart God’s purpose. Christians need not remain passive in sharing the gospel with migrants while we debate whether or not they should migrate.
As you can see, Christians care about immigration for different reasons. This post is an invitation to start a discussion about immigration. I hope readers will share their perspective and experiences so that we, as Christians, can better understand and better formulate our personal response to the migration phenomenon encompassing the globe.
To start the discussion, I have shared some of my thoughts and experiences in a comment on this post. Please share yours.
Why do you care about immigration?
- What is God Saying to the Nations? https://www.oneplace.com/ministries/understanding-the-times/
- Christians at the Border, https://discovertheword.org/series/christians-at-the-border/
What have you done for me lately?
This is not a question we should be asking God, but it seems we do. What better explains an inconsistent prayer life? We get excited and thankful when God answers our prayers, certain we will remain connected to our Creator. Then we drift. This comes up, then that. We become too busy, too self-sufficient, too satisfied with life without Him. Read more
Most Christians would probably agree that stewardship of our money is an important aspect of our faith. But if we merely nod our head in agreement without taking demonstrable action, we may be in grave danger. Read more
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:5-10
In John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem Maud Muller, a poor maiden and a rich judge, upon a happenstance meeting, imagine how different and better their lives would be if they left their own situations and lived like the other. But their chance meeting was soon over, with neither having voiced their imaginations, as the judge closed his heart knowing his family would oppose him accepting a lower station in life. Read more
The human heart is fragile. It can be broken and crushed (Psalm 147:3). This same fragile heart is the one with which we are to love God passionately along with our mind and soul and strength (Luke 10:27). The fact that God “inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal (Job 5:18)” makes this conundrum even more baffling. Read more
Are you ever surprised by how quickly you forget what God has done for you or what he expects of you? I am not just referring to something you heard in a sermon you thought was interesting. It could be something that touched you so deeply that, at the time, you would never believe you would forget it or fail to act on it. But you did.
You are not alone. Read more
Christians naturally want to know what God’s will is for them. However, when the focus of this question is on vocation rather than following Jesus, we are liable to get sidetracked. Read more
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Ps. 90:4
I remember my concept of time when I was a child. It went by slowly. On my seventh birthday my present was a fishing rod and tackle box ordered from the Sears catalog. (Remember those?) Every day I watched for the mailman hoping he would bring my package. It took six weeks to arrive. To me, it seemed like an eternity. Read more
My times are in God’s hand. I find great comfort in this fact particularly because of three things that are true about God – he is good, he is omniscient and he is omnipotent. If he is not good, I have every reason to fear his sovereign power. If he is not omniscient, then his plans might be misguided or have unintended consequences. If he is not omnipotent, then he is unable to do all that he has promised and my times are not really in his hands. Read more
I feel it sometimes. Cold, heartless evil. It’s all around. It’s dark and ugly. It’s chill penetrates to the bone. I felt the cold when I heard of the murder of twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I feel it when I read about ISIS beheading and crucifying Christians. The darkness draws close with countless other events reported on the nightly news. Read more