This morning when I turned on the computer, the first headline that I saw said “Jimmy Fallon Gives One Million Dollars to J. J. Watt Fund.” After reading the story, I realized that it was not Jimmy Fallon, personally, that gave the money; but the television show that bears his name. Regardless, it was a significant gift for a very deserving effort. If you have not heard the story, J. J. Watt (a professional football player for the Houston Texans) set out to raise $200,000 for relief efforts in Houston; and now, a little over a week later, the fund has raised over $21,000,000! That money has been given by over 187,000 contributors, showing that there are still a lot of generous, and caring, people in our country.
It really appears that our country is going to need a lot of generous people over the next few weeks and months. The largest, and most powerful, hurricane ever recorded (Irma) is churning its way toward Florida, and should be there sometime between Sunday and Tuesday. The report I saw said that they are not quite sure, once it gets to South Florida, what direction it will go — but not many of them are good options. Yesterday, in the Gulf of Mexico, another Tropical Storm (Katia) was formed. It is off the coast of Mexico, and is moving east. The Gulf Coast could take a real hammering this year, and the damage that has already been inflicted is catastrophic. The care and concern of the people in our country has always been amazing. That care and concern could be really stretched this year.
All of those stories sort of dove-tailed, into a passage from my reading this morning. As I read about the generous people in our country, giving to help those that are struggling with all that is happening, this passage reminded me that God’s people need to be the ones that are leading the way. Listen to what Paul said:
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14, NRSV)
That’s not just in the way that we treat people on a day to day basis, but how we respond to their needs. As I have read on Facebook, and various blog posts, I have been extremely proud of the way that God’s people have responded to the needs along the coasts of South Texas, and in Louisiana. We need to exhibit that kind of loving, caring attitude to the world, and not just during times of disaster.
But now, I want to mention another area where we need to be caring, and loving. Most of you know, I am not too interested in politics, or things that are political. But the repeal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) really got my attention yesterday. Beginning in January, 2004 through December, 2015 — I was a salesman for Arkansas Insulation, and because of the nature of that business; most of our installers were immigrants from Mexico, and Central America. Over that 12 years, some of those guys that I worked with on a daily basis became friends. I am sure that some of them were illegal, but I did not make it a practice to ask. So, when we talk about legislation regarding immigrants, it is not some legislation that is not real to me. It resonates with names like Alberto, Jesus, Jorge, Juan, Antonio, Raul, Adolpho, … So when I read these things, it is not just someone — it is a name, a face, a personality. Obviously, that effects the way that I think about such things.
What I observed over those years is that being here legally, after you have once come illegally is not easy. Two of our men did that, changed their status from illegal to legal. But to do that, they had to go back to Mexico for nearly a year, leaving their families here, before they could come back legally. It is my understanding, that if you are here illegally, you don’t just go in and file for U. S. citizenship. You have to be here legally to do that, and I just explained what that involves. Many of these men that I know, don’t have anything to go back to in Mexico — that’s why they are here. DACA was a way that children that were brought here as a child (under the age of 16, I think) would have a renewable two-year grace period from deportation, and eligibility for a work permit. I don’t have any answers about what needs to be done, but it seems that there could be something better than sending all of these people back to a country where there is no future.
In the Old Testament, God told the Israelites to remember that they had been slaves in Egypt, and to care for those that aliens (NRSV) or sojourners (ESV). Listen to the words of Moses:
“When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this. (Deuteronomy 24:19-22, ESV)
I believe that one of the things that made Boaz a worthy man (ESV), in Ruth 2, was his concern for those that were in need, and Ruth was an immigrant. I don’t have all the answers for this, or any, subject; but I believe that God’s people ought always to come down on the side of love and concern. I am going to be praying that our government will be able to come up with a reasonable, and caring solution. Peace.