When it comes to refugee resettlement in the U.S., this last year has been a difficult one with many ups and downs. Presidential debates, travel bans, Supreme Court decisions, terrorist attacks by immigrants and passionate people on both sides of the argument have made refugee resettlement a very polarizing issue in America. There is a lot of discussion and division about how to respond to foreigners entering our country, even among some members of the Church. I understand the issues are complex and I don’t pretend to know everything about immigration. But I witnessed something this weekend that reminded me how important it is to simply love people, even foreigners and strangers.
I am part of a host team at my church for an Ethiopian family that has just arrived in the U.S. There are many responsibilities for our team, like setting up housing, enrolling kids in school, teaching the family how to shop at a “food store” and ride public transportation, or showing how and when to take the trash to the street for pick up. Learning how to do the simplest of tasks can be overwhelming for a refugee who doesn’t speak the language or know the culture, but who has so many new things to learn and remember.
We spent most of the day Saturday doing many of these things with our new friends. While we were busy helping Abdella and his family, my five-year-old grand-daughter was connecting with his five-year-old daughter. His daughter doesn’t speak English and my grand-daughter doesn’t speak Swahili, but it only took a short time for them to cross cultural, racial and language barriers with a piece of chalk on a concrete driveway, because love knows no boundaries. Very soon, they were laughing and playing as if they’d always known each other. Love had crossed several barriers. Our desire as a host team is to overcome the barriers of race, culture and language by loving this family so much that they will come to know the One who is love.
While there may be different opinions concerning how the government should administer immigration, the Bible has something to say about how we should love and treat others, including the foreigner living among us. The following scriptures are only a few of the many, that give us wisdom about how we should love refugees.
- Leviticus 19:33-34, love refugees as yourself.
- Leviticus 19:9-10, leave food for the poor and the foreigner.
- Deuteronomy 10:18-19, God loves the foreigner living among you.
- Ezekiel 16:49, the sin of Sodom was that they did not help the poor and needy.
- Exodus 23:9, do not oppress a foreigner.
- Malachi 3:5, do not deprive foreigners around you of justice.
- 1 Kings 8:41-44, do whatever the foreigner asks of you.