Immigrants and Me: The Same Before the Lord

dscf4598-editA timely question: how does God want me to respond to immigrants in the US? The short answer–love. As a believer in Jesus, I should love God with all my heart, soul and mind. And I should love my neighbors the same as I love myself (Matt. 22:37-39). However, God offers much more specific instructions about how we should love our neighbors who happen to be foreigners (or aliens, or strangers, or sojourners, depending on the translation) living in our country.

We also see throughout the Bible God has been moving people across borders for millennia. The first thing he asked Abram to do was,  “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation.” (Gen. 12:1-2). And then Paul explains in Acts 17:26-27, that God has been moving people around as a part of His plan so they search for and hopefully find Him. 

If you’re struggling to have an attitude of love towards immigrants and refugees, prayerfully consider the following scriptures and ask God to work in your heart to make it more like His.

Abram, Joseph and Moses

When God chose a people to be His holy nation on earth, He began with Abram (who later became Abraham). And He instructed Abram to pack up everything–family, possessions and animals–and leave his homeland and his father’s family. So right from the start, God was uprooting His people and moving them across borders. (Gen. 12)

Starting in Genesis 37, we read that Jacob, a grandson of Abraham, was still living “in the land where his father was a stranger.” Jacob’s sons sold their brother Joseph to Ishmaelites who then sold him in Egypt as a slave. Joseph becomes a central figure of Hebrew history even as he becomes a powerful leader reporting directly to Egypt’s Pharaoh.

Generations pass and, in Exodus, we see Moses lead the Hebrew people out Egypt’s borders back to Canaan, which later became Israel. And it is from that era that we see God’s instructions to the Israelites regarding the treatment of foreigners in their land.

God’s Heart for the Vulnerable

God gave the Israelites clear instructions regarding the treatment of certain people. God knew that three types of people were (and still are) more vulnerable to abuse than many–widows, orphans and aliens. (Again, depending on the translation, it may be aliens, foreigners, strangers, etc.) Here is a partial list of verses containing those instructions:

Ex. 22
21 “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. 22 Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”

Ex. 23
“Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.”

12 “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.”

Lev. 19
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.”

33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

Num. 15
15 “The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.”

Deu. 10
17 “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”

Part of God’s Plans Since the Beginning

All of this moving people across borders was not random. The times at which peoples would live and the boundaries in which they would live were all on God’s mind since He made Adam.

Acts 17
26 “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”

Even Jesus experienced this movement across borders in His life. Joseph and Mary had to take Jesus and flee into Egypt for safety. In fact, during that time in Jesus’ life, He fit the current US government’s definition of a refugee.

Matt. 2
13 “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.'”

14 “So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.'”

What About Me?

Back to my first question: how does God want me to respond to immigrants in the US? When I read these scriptures, it is crystal clear that God wants me to love them and treat them the way I want to be treated–regardless of citizenship status. Interestingly, Paul reminds believers in Phil. 3:20, “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And later in his letter to the Hebrews, Paul says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:2)

So no matter where you align politically, one thing is very clear, God sees us all the same. He loves every single one of us regardless of our citizenship or lack thereof. And likewise, He wants us to love our neighbors regardless of their status.

Joe Paschal
Pastor of Mobilization & Outreach

Travel! Please, travel. (Pt. 1)

 

Pastors frequently tell us to follow the example Jesus set for us. And I’m about to do it again: Follow the example Jesus gave us–travel, travel, travel!

I was inspired to post a few thoughts after I listened to an interview with Jeremy Courtney and absolutely loved how he described the importance of traveling! The following is an excerpt from that interview (you can find the whole interview on the New Activist podcast by clicking here).

new-activist“How do I start to be a better neighbor? How to do I broaden my tent poles of who is included in my tent. How do I extend the table and put another leaf in the middle so I can welcome more people to my table ? I don’t want to make any bones about how hard that is. If you’re surrounded by a certain kind of tribalism that only wants to regard itself as right and righteous and worth it–breaking out of that might be difficult. Geography can play a limiting factor. Travel is one of the great normalizers of the world, one of the great battering rams of tribalism. It blows through walls and helps us see the other more compassionately and humanely. Travel if you can, if not to another country, another city, or another tribe inside your city. Travel to another denomination, religion, political party, ethnicity than your own. Walk across some street, barrier or boundary into other land and get to know those people. Listen. Go humbly. Do that incarnation thing. That’s the story: travel. It’s an inward journey more than it’s an outward journey, but we have to make that journey.”

Jesus traveled from His home with God to come to earth and inhabit a human body. The all-powerful creator of the the universe and humankind came into this world He created and took on flesh and bone. That’s the “incarnation thing.”

Jesus’ travels had a very specific purpose. He came to teach us that we could have abundant life (John 10:10). I am challenging you to travel with a very specific purpose. Leave the familiar behind. Get out of your comfort zone. Intentionally seek out people you don’t know in a place you don’t understand. When you get there, get to know them. And like Jeremy Courtney said, “Listen. Go humbly. Do that incarnation thing.”

But why? What’s the point of this challenge? 

The point is to learn how to love your neighbor the way you love yourself (Matthew 22:39, Luke 14:12-14). It’s difficult to love your neighbors if you don’t know them. And unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to have negative feelings toward them because of stereotypes and prejudices–even though you’ve never met them.

So travel! Please, travel. Put yourself in a place where God teaches you how to love your neighbor. Maybe you need to travel outside your familiar neighborhood to meet some people that aren’t like you. Maybe it’s a visit to a church you wouldn’t typically go to. Maybe it is a short term mission trip. Ask God to help you! Ask Him to give you the opportunities. He will.

Joe Paschal
Pastor of Mobilization and Outreach

 

Mission Trips for 2017!

We have several teams visiting our partners around the world in 2017! We hope many of you will join one of these teams. This year, and most years, during the summer, we send a team to each of our partners. And then there are other trips throughout the year, and those vary each year. So its good to always check our church website for the latest information. You can click here to check it out.

At the time of this posting, here’s the rundown:

Haiti, June 28-July 5 Deadline to apply is 12/21 click here for trip information then apply here
Guatemala, Aug 13-20 Deadline to apply is 1/31 click here for trip information then apply here
Ukraine, estimated dates of trip Aug 3-14 Deadline to apply is 2/2
click here for trip information then apply here
Rwanda, Aug 5-14 Deadline to apply is 1/23 click here for trip information the apply here

5 Years in Minotirie, Haiti!

2017 will be our 5 year anniversary of working in Minotirie! That’ s the village in Haiti we have visited multiple times a year since 2012. In his sermon on December 3 and 4, Joe Paschal described his recent visit to Haiti told a story about a single mom there named Gabrielle. You can watch that sermon below.

And if you want to be on the Anniversary Team that visits Haiti in the summer of 2017, you can apply here!

 

Making a Real Impact in the Lives of Orphans

The picture below is a significant one. It appears to simply be a crowded lobby at LifePoint Church. But its so much more than that. This is a crowd of people that want to know how they can help orphans and children that are vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment. In the middle of this crowd there are volunteer ministry leaders for Ukraine, Haiti, Guatemala, Rwanda and Legacy Orphan Ministry. This happened after our services on October 22/23.

That weekend, 38 kids were sponsored in 4 different countries.
74 different people signed up to learn more about being engaged in Global Outreach and orphan care.

This is just the beginning! We’re excited to see how God continues to use LifePoint Church!

lobby-pic

New Partnership in Ukraine!

We’re so excited to have Orphan Outreach partner with us and Alpha Life in Ukraine! Now you can sponsor these amazing young men and women (click here for sponsor site). And check out this great video for the story!

New Media about G.O. & Legacy!

We’re excited about a new booklet we’ve created to highlight LifePoint’s Global Outreach and Legacy Orphan Ministry. Click on the picture below to have a look!

Layout 1

Haiti Update

The loss of life in Haiti due to Hurricane Matthew is heartbreaking. However, it is wonderful to see how much impact Mission of Hope Haiti is able to make in the recovery efforts! Some areas have been inaccessible by road for days following the storm. Mission of Hope Haiti has been collaborating with USAID, the military, Samaritan’s Purse, Convoy of Hope and others to get to hard-to-reach people. They have used barges and even helicopters to deliver water, food and medical supplies. You can find lots of great updates and photos of their work on the Mission of Hope Haiti Facebook page (click here).

haiti-barge

This MOH Haiti photo from Oct 15, 2016 shows a barge delivery of food to a storm ravaged area in Haiti called Jeremie.

Haiti Hurricane Relief

Our partner in Haiti is Mission of Hope Haiti. They have been in Haiti since the early 90’s. They’re well placed and ready to help the people of Haiti! We can help them by giving to support their relief efforts.

haiti-hurricane-relief

Carry 117: Celebrating 2 Years!

carry-117-women

We’re excited to see our partner in Ethiopia, Carry 117, celebrating their 2 year anniversary! Henok Berhanu, Carry 117’s founder, posted this on Facebook about their celebration:

“…we took our staff on a little road trip about an hour outside of Addis to a place called Kuriftu Resort & Spa in Debre Zeit. First we wanted to show the ladies the location of the new Carry 117 store and see how the construction was coming. Secondly, we celebrated our 2 year anniversary as a ministry by bringing the ladies to an all you can eat buffet! We ate a lot of food, laughed a ton, enjoyed some live music, kayaked on the lake, and wrapped up with some intentional conversation about all that we accomplished over the last year & all we hope to accomplish in year 3!!
Most of all, we want to thank each of you for your support. We wouldn’t exist without you.
Year 2 was incredible and God did so much more than we could have imagined. We do believe the best is yet to come.”

We love supporting Carry 117 as they empower women and create sustainable change! Happy Anniversary! You can read more about them at www.Carry117.com or check out their Facebook page here.

  • Pages

  • Document Downloads

  • Twitter Updates

    • RT @IJM: "Nothing will happen just because we're aware of modern-day slavery. But nothing will EVER happen until we are." -@GaryHaugen#end2 days ago
  • Give Online

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Meta

%d bloggers like this: