Immigration: Choosing Love Instead of Fear

I don’t often write about political issues. I don’t like politics. I don’t like talking about politics or thinking about politics. It tends to just make me upset. But I’m excited that the Christian synchroblog I used to be a part of is starting up again and I want to jump back in even though this month’s topic is a very political issue.

I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like I have something really helpful to add to the debate. I don’t have a solution for the “immigration problem”. I don’t know all the ins and outs, or all the pros and cons of different suggestions. I don’t have any idea what a Christian policy on immigration should really look like – I’m not sure there really is ONE “Christian policy on immigration”. I am sure that the issue is complex, that there are probably a variety of solutions that would solve a variety of the problems that arise when dealing with immigration. I’m sure that there are a multitude of “right” approaches.

Personally, I don’t want to talk about solutions, or suggestions today. I don’t want to talk about the legality of the issue, or about how it relates to jobs and the economy. I don’t want to talk about the politics of the situation. What I want to talk about is attitude.

As followers of Christ what should our attitude be towards immigrants? I don’t know about you but so often when I hear people talking about the “immigration issue” I hear a lot of negativity and very little love. I hear a lot of prejudice and racism and not a lot of love. I hear a lot of condemnation and not a lot of love. I believe that as Christians we should take a higher approach, a different stance. We should try to understand instead of condemn, to help instead of degrade and to love instead of fear.

I think a lot of the problem comes from fear. People fear immigration and immigrants. They fear the influence that immigrants (both legal and illegal) will have on the American economy, culture, and political system. They believe that we have to protect America and that the protection of America is the ultimate goal and makes any act (including the restriction of civil liberties) justifiable. Out of fear, policies are then made that restrict civil liberties (case in point: Arizona). The restriction of civil liberties due to fear is much more detrimental to America than immigration will ever be.

The truth of the matter is that we are all foreigners and strangers on this earth. The truth of the matter is that our ultimate allegiance is not to a specific country and protecting its way of life. Our ultimate allegiance is not to a specific political or economic system. Our ultimate allegiance IS to Christ Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and his radical new kingdom.

As Christians, I believe we need to support policies that are not driven by fear, but are instead driven by love and sound reasoning. We need to remember that although we owe America some gratitude and allegiance for the gifts that it provides us with, America is just a nation – nations rise and fall, but our allegiance is to God most High and Him alone. We need to remember that immigrants are our brothers and sisters, even if they look and act differently than we do. They each have unique stories to tell and a no matter how they crossed our boarders, or why they crossed our boarders, God loves them passionately and recklessly and so should we.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

Here are the other synchroblog participants posts. Hope you all enjoy the discussion! I know I’m really looking forward to reading through these:

Mike Victorino at Still A Night Owl – ‘Being the Flag
Sonnie Swentson-Forbes at Hey Sonnie – ‘Immigration Stories
Steven Calascione at Eirenikos – ‘The Jealousy of Migration
George Elerick at The Love Revolution – ‘We’re Not Kings or Gods
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – “Together We Can Make Dreams Come True
Sonnie Swentson at A Piece of My Mind – “Immigration Stories
Matt Stone at Global Christianity – “Is Xenophobia Every Christlike?
Steve Hayes at Khanya – “Christians And The Immigration Issue
Ellen Haroutunian – “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses
Beth Stedman – “Immigration: Choosing Love Instead of Fear
Pete Houston at Peter’s Progress – “Of Rape And Refuge
Joshua Seek – “Loving Our Immigrant Brother
Amanda MacInnis at Cheese Wearing Theology – “Christians and Immigration
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian – “You’re Right
Kathy Escobar at Carnival In My Head – “It’s A Lot Easier To Be Against Immigration Reform When You Have Papers
Jonathan Brink – “Immigration Synchroblog
Beth Patterson at Virtual Tea House – “What we resist not only persists but eventually becomes our landlord”

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

4th of July: Random Thoughts from an American Expat

My husband and I have lived in Prague for three and a half years now. I have lived in Prague longer than I have lived anywhere else since High School. We love living in Prague, but there are plenty of things we love about America too. Living in a foreign country has given me a totally new perspective on my own native home.

I love America more because of the time I’ve spent away from her. I respect America more because of the time I’ve spent away from her. I am embarrassed by America more because of the time I’ve spent away from her. I worry about America less because of the time I’ve spent away from her. My feelings towards my home country are far more diverse, varied, and broad then they ever were before I left.

In some ways living overseas has made me much less nationalistic. People are people no matter where you are. Nations don’t really matter. Nations rise and fall. People are what really matter.

But, living overseas has also made me more patriotic. People may be the same wherever you are, but societies are different. Cultures are different. Those differences can be stunningly beautiful and so incredibly valuable.

Random Things I’ve realized about America/Americans/American culture since living overseas:

  • Americans have the best “can do” attitude in the world. Ok, maybe not in the world, but definitely in contrast to the Czech Republic, where the favorite phrase seems to be “not possible” or “no”. As Americans we value making things happen and we are often willing to think outside the box and compromise in order to make things happen for ourselves and for others. That’s not necessarily the case in the rest of the world. I often miss this kind of positive thinking.
  • Everything is available everywhere all the time. There are localists who would say this is a negative thing, but I have to admit that I really miss this about the states.
  • American news coverage is often self-centered and biased. I knew that before moving, but you realize it anew when you are abroad. When people talk about the latest news here it’s not just what’s going on in their own country its stuff that’s going on all over the world. News will always have biases, but the biases seem less intense in news sources from outside the US.
  • The English language is a beautiful thing and I have learned to appreciate it so much more living in a non-English speaking country.
  • The stereotype about Americans being loud is often and generally true, but this isn’t always a bad thing and there are a lot of other loud people as well. British guys in Prague for a stag party have a tendency to be far louder than any group of Americans.
  • Americans in general are truly friendly people. We smile at people we meet, and we enjoy small talk. Sure, not every American does, but on a whole as a culture we do. This became strikingly clear living in a culture where that is not true.

Ok, so there could definitely be more to this list, but these are the first few things that came to mind.

How about you? Have you traveled outside of the US? If so where to? And did you learn anything about your own culture while there?

Happy 4th of July everyone. I hope your day is filled with fireworks, fresh strawberries, BBQ’s, hanging out with friends and family, and lots of gratitude for the positives and the beauty that is American culture.

Rejoicing in the journey-
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.