Monday, May 22, 2006

Are any among you tired?

borrowed from,
a ministry of Tim Johnson (yes, he's my boy!)
McDonnough GA


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flameis the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame, "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she with silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

(Emma Lazarus)

For the uninformed, these words greet every visitor to the shores of the United States of America. Countless millions of immigrants passed by them on their way into America. These words are at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

These are the words of the Declaration of Independence. This document stated the intention of Great Britain’s American colonies to self-govern. Roughly 14% of the 56 men who signed the Declaration had immigrated to America at some point in their life.

In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Columbus. An Italian who made his way to the Americas by way of Spain.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Abraham Lincoln penned these words as a speech to dedicate a military cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. At the time, our country was embroiled in a great conflict over, among other things, the status of certain immigrants (so to speak).

This land is your land This land is my landFrom California to the New York island; From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters This land was made for you and Me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people, By the relief office I seen my people; As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking Is this land made for you and me?

Somewhere between the opening chorus and closing verse of Woody Guthrie’s great anthem is where we are now as a society. Between the statement, “this land was made for you and me”, and the question, “is this land made for you and me?”

Some would argue that the changes to “the land made for you and me” threaten the very nature of the land. Others want to know whom the “you and me” refers to?

Our country is currently consumed with a debate regarding immigration. Now, in order to not sound like a despicable racist, some try to say it is only about illegal immigration. But, that does sound very much like a ruse to me. And we should not stoop to the “illegals take American jobs”, “illegals only take jobs Americans don’t want”, or “Americans would want the jobs if illegals didn’t lower the market” arguments. None of that is the real issue.

The real issue is can be seen in these facts from World Vision’s Faith In Action Study Bible.
  • In some countries of the world over 94% of school age girls are not in school, while over 99% of girls in America are
  • The average student-teacher ratio in some areas can be as high as 250 to 1, while in America the ratio is 17 to 1
  • Over 90% of American adults are literate, while in developing countries the literacy rate is less than 10%
  • Outside of America 5 children die of preventable illness every 15 seconds
  • 1 in 7 people in developing countries go hungry, while Americans spend $20 billion a year on ice cream (enough money to feed 83 million children for a year)
  • Nearly 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day
  • More than 1 billion live on less than $1 a day
  • But on a list of the 22 most affluent countries, America ranks last in providing foreign aid to the developing world

Is there any doubt as to why, in the words of Emma Lazarus, “the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse, the homeless, the tempest-tost” are literally dying in an effort to get to America and possibly make a better life for their family? Can we blame them? Would we not do the same if the situation was reversed, and it was our kid going to bed hungry, without an education or a hope for the future? And would we stop to consider immigration law if our family’s life was at stake?

What would God have to say on this topic? Look in Leviticus 19:33-34. Don't mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, (your ancestors) were once foreigners in the land (too).

Yes, in this era of terrorism, we need to better secure our borders. But many of those who are here illegally are honest, hard-working people. If they have committed no other crime than to be here illegally, we need to practice some civility. Give them a helping hand in their quest to provide the life for the future generations of their family that many of our ancestors provided for us. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago in our country that these statements would have possibly impacted our grandparents and great-grandparents:

  • Irish need not apply
  • No Chinese
  • Catholics not welcome
  • Jews not welcome
  • Coloreds not served

Keep in mind these words of Scripture from Revelation 7:9, 21:4. After this, I saw a large crowd with more people than could be counted. They were from every race, tribe, nation, and language, and they stood before the throne and before the Lamb. They wore white robes and held palm branches in their hands, He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever.

This land was made for you and me, whoever you and me are, wherever you and me are originally from.

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