Monday, January 30, 2012

Love Thy Foreigner!

Lev. 19:33-34
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.”

Over the years I’ve come to understand the need for this command more and more. I’ve been a foreigner in this land, America, for close to 25 years. I came to the realization a while back that I’ve lived in this country longer than I’ve lived in my own native land. So today, In honor of my 25th year in America, I want to make a public confession: year one and year 25 are as equally difficult. Of course some changes have made year 25 easier, like fluency in English and a basic understanding of the American culture but I tell you there continues to be this profound desire to be “home”! I think the theme song of Cheers captures a smidgen of that longing:

Sometimes you wanna go,
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

In other words, you want to be known at a deep, core level; no need to explain your history, no need to explain your past, no need to explain why you’re in a foreign land; you just want to be known.

I often walk around fragmented, misunderstood, frustrated that I can’t fully assimilate and be like everyone else. And honestly my soul would not allow me to assimilate and simply forget. I often want to wear a sign that reads: “I'm a Haitian woman living in America, please, please don't ask me to apologize for this in necessitating that I become mainstream, If I ever do I will stop being! Love me, teach me, bear with me but please don't ask me to cease from being”! ~sincerely Dieula~

Maybe the plight of the foreigners explains why God had such a huge heart for them; in the bible, God would often speak of them. Maybe he understood the challenges of being a stranger in a foreign land more than we think. Maybe he knew, since the creation of the world that He would use a foreigner, His son Jesus Christ, to live in a foreign land to save the world and if we disregarded and mistreated this foreigner, we would miss the God in flesh. And like every other foreigner living in a foreign land, Jesus would face feeling fragmented, misunderstood and frustrated of not being able to assimilate.

I was reminded today that perhaps the even deeper longing is not simply to be “Home”; maybe it’s for a place our restless souls can rest and be known and fully accepted. Is there such a place where the homeless can find a home, the drunks can stand strong, the gays can be loved beyond their sexual orientation, the prostitutes can find meaning beyond the physical, the slaves can be free and the foreigners can finally come home and find rest? If Jesus were to come down from heaven and decided to live amongst us, would he find a place to rest?

I believe Jesus offers a place where all of our restless souls can find rest and finally come Home. HEAVEN! Until then Let us do as Leviticus 19:33-34 commands “Love them as yourself”!!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Because of your Tragedy Haiti...

I can't believe it has been 2 years since I received that distressing phone call from my sister in Nj that our country had been devastated by a massive earthquake. Like everyone else we thought it was no big deal, “the poor people of the world are always going through some kind of crisis” I thought. Forgive me, my beloved Haitian brothers and sisters, for not ever taking your pain and suffering to be a serious matter. You have taught me to look at all God's children with dignity and a sense of worthiness. So I thank you!

But it has been 2 years and it seems to me you have given us more than we have given you.

Because of your tragedy, you have helped us to be grateful for what we have and we have given you groups and groups of on-lookers to pay homage and feel sorry for your misfortune.

Because of your tragedy, we have gotten in touch with some of our true human emotions; sadness, compassion and righteous anger over the injustice done to you and we have given you some of the best and brightest thinkers locked up in board rooms deciding your future.

Because of your tragedy you have given us hours upon hours of speeches, classroom lesson plans and new content for us to be even more educated and we have given you perhaps $40 a month to help a child receive an education.

Because of your tragedy, we have thousands of pictures of you, our non-profits are flourishing and you’ve made us look like Mother Teresa and we have given you perhaps a promise that we will be back.

Because of your tragedy, our eyes are even more open that this world operates on a value system that continues to demand a category where the "have nots" must remain and in return we have exposed the nakedness of your children, wives and the shame of your husbands.

Because of your tragedy, we saw a modern day example of believers persevering in the face of tragedy as you walked down the streets of PAP singing songs of praise to our God and king. And we gave you bibles and our version of Christianity thinking we have the answers to your problems, when in fact the presence of the Lord is more felt in your mud constructed prayer rooms than in our multi-million dollar sanctuaries.

Because of your tragedy, we have an opportunity to do as Isaiah 58 commands, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to loosen the chains of oppression and to be repairers of broken walls.

So it seems to me that you have given us more than we have given you. It seems to me that you have helped us more than we have helped you. It seems to me that you have poured into us more than we have poured into you. Your lessons are priceless and precious.

So I thank you! I thank you for helping us realize that God, the creator, loves all of his children equally, rich and poor; literate and illiterate; blacks and whites. I thank you for helping us see that what we see here on earth isn’t all God is capable of doing and to not make too big of a deal on the temporary. I thank you for teaching us how to have faith especially when things have gone awry. I humbly salute you and am proud of you for persevering through the darkest times. Just Remember, “after you have suffered a little while, God will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” 1 Pet. 5:10.