We’ll Minister to You On Your Soil
I have spent a great deal of time in this book on the subject of immigration. It is one of the most divisive issues in our nation today and has been throughout our nation’s existence. We are a nation of immigrants and a melting pot of races. I believe that America’s diversity is a very pale reflection of the brilliant rainbow of races that we will see in heaven.
Indeed, diversity is one of the cornerstones of America’s greatness. That it is one of the reasons, I have spent so much time talking about it. If we fail the test of diversity, if we walk backward from our heritage as the great melting pot, we will not be making America great again, but diminishing her greatness by yielding to the forces of fear, isolationism, racism, and division.
One of the things that hit me as I was researching and writing on immigration was that my church, and I assume many others are too, was in a paradox. My church sent an entire team to Puerto Rico yet supports an administration that actively works against the goals of the people that it is trying to minister to.
Our church raised money, sent a team, collected supplies for the same Puerto Ricans that the president was actively resisting sending aid to and also scolding for taking resources away from “our” American farmers. To me, the irony was inescapable. Our church was supporting the administration that was exacerbating the crisis!
Similarly, I support missions work to Haiti, and I support Christian ministries that operate in several African nations. These are the same nations that the president currently, and our country historically, has looked to limit immigration from. As I thought about this, my heart began screaming questions at me? How can the church support a president who actively works against helping the same people we are trying to minister to? How can we support a president whose actions contradict our ministry efforts?
As my heart was yelling these questions, the answer hit me. “We’ll minister to you on your own soil.” Meaning that we (the church) will evangelize you over there where you live and send resources over there but at home, we will support policies and administrations that will try to prevent you from immigrating here as our ancestors did.
I understand the rationale from the secular, pure numbers, view of the Trump administration. It recently announced, “that it will terminate the provisional residency permits of about 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the country since at least 2001, leaving them to face deportation.” The rationale: “conditions in El Salvador have improved enough since the earthquakes to no longer warrant the TPS designation.”
From a clearly secular, headcount perspective, we need to look at the numbers of these immigrants that came in 2001 and determine if all of them should stay. However, as a father whose oldest daughter served as a missionary to El Salvador, I have a conflicted view. It seems that the church should have a more compassionate view. We’d demonstrate that compassion if we were there in El Salvador as missionaries. For some reason, however, when we think of these people as just numbers, their humanity is withdrawn and with it most or all of our compassion. The Trump administration has looked at Haitian disaster refugees in a similar fashion:
"Eight years after the earthquake that killed an estimated 230,000 people and displaced 1.5 million more, grand dreams of harnessing billions of dollars in recovery aid to forge a stronger, more prosperous nation have faded.
The rubble is largely cleared, most of the vast tent cities are gone, and inspiring grass-roots efforts by Haitians have helped to rebuild lives. But this country — long the poorest in the Western Hemisphere — continues to struggle, gripped by a severe housing shortage as nearly 60 percent of the population lives under a poverty line set at $2.42 per day.
I visited Haiti twice in 2010, reporting on the plight of the earthquake survivors amid a wellspring of support from America. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush led the fundraising for a massive U.S. response that reached to the Pacific Northwest with volunteers rushing to the scene and World Vision, Seattle-based World Concern, Portland-based Mercy Corps and other groups joining in the aid effort.
I returned this spring at a very different time in U.S.-Haiti relations as President Donald Trump takes a tougher line on Haitian immigrants who came to the U.S. after the earthquake.
The Trump administration in November announced that the “extraordinary but temporary conditions” caused by the earthquake “no longer exist” and set a July 2019 deadline for more than 40,000 Haitians who had sought refuge in the United States to either leave on their own or be deported.
That decision appears at odds with the Department of Homeland Security’s internal assessment of post-earthquake conditions. Documents summarized Haiti’s progress as one step forward, two steps back, and noted that Hurricane Matthew in 2016 damaged or destroyed 236,000 Haitians’ homes and struck a serious blow to the nation’s agriculture."
As I stated, I give support to missions work in Haiti. I am angered when I think that our country would in one fell swoop, without considering any mitigating circumstances, would simply send them all back. I have a choice as to which missionary efforts I financially support. I consider the conditions, spiritual, and natural of the country that I am sowing into.
It forces me to ask myself if I also have a choice as to whether to support the administration that actively works against the same people groups that I have prayerfully pledged to support?
What if even half of the Haitian immigrants ended back up in Haiti? What would that do to the nation of Haiti and the conditions that I am praying for?
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