Feverish Fear of The “Caravan”

An Old Story of The Hard Heartedness of An Ancient People And Their Pharaoh

It’s not just left-leaning writers, like Nicholas Kristof, who are attempting to diffuse the paranoia of an “invasion” of impoverished refugees. Fox News anchor Shepard Smith calmly and succinctly called out the fearmongering for what is. David Thornton of the unapologetically conservative website, The Resurgent) tried to disarm the disinformation campaign as well.

All three are in agreement that there’s no need for a massive troop build-up at the U.S.-Mexico border. Like its prequel in April, 2018, there’s not likely to be much of a caravan left by the time a few of them make the 1,000-mile trek on foot. There’s also no evidence of Middle-eastern terrorists masquerading as Central American migrants. But I guess brown is the new black and they all look alike, right?

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Why is this feverish fear so contagious? It has politicians “concerned” about people exercising their right to vote. The civil rights’ era label of “outside agitators” has been pulled from the recycle bin to apply to voting rights activists. It has lawmakers wanting to revoke the citizenship of people born in this country. It has conspired to disenfranchise the Natives of this land from casting ballots.

 

Exodus of the West?

Could the book of Exodus give us a clue to what’s going on in the minds of some Americans, who consider themselves the Americans? Let’s consider the following excerpt:

Joseph and his brothers and all that generation died. The Israelites, however, were fruitful, increased greatly, multiplied, and became extremely strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power over Egypt. He said to his people, “Look at the Israelite people, more numerous and stronger than we are! Come, let’s deal wisely with them. Otherwise they will continue to multiply, and if a war breaks out, they will ally themselves with our enemies and fight against us and leave the country.”

So they put foremen over the Israelites to oppress them with hard labor. As a result they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more they multiplied and spread. As a result the Egyptians loathed the Israelites, and they made the Israelites serve rigorously. (Ex. 1:6-13, NET)

Deliberate Disinformation

Let’s dissect a couple of things here. First, this king had a case of selective memory and strategic forgetfulness. How is it that he could know about a foreign people living in his land, but not know how they got there and where they came from? He referred to this rapidly growing demographic as Israelites, in other words, the offspring of Israel. Doesn’t referring to them as Israelites beg the question, Who was Israel and how did his offspring come to reside in Egypt?

The truth is, this king didn’t want to know about Joseph’s role in making Egypt great. Pharaoh wanted to deny or diminish any people or accomplishments that would credit outside agitators with meaningful progress to Egyptian science, politics, economics. To borrow from Rage Against the Machine’s “No Shelter,” this king’s agenda was for everyone to see through…

 

[Egyptian] eyes, [Egyptian] eyes

View the world through [Eyptian] eyes

Bury the past, rob us blind

And leave nothing behind!

 

It’s much like American amnesia regarding people like Peter Salem, Paul Cuffe, Benjamin Banneker, Charles Drew, Garrett Morgan, Alice Ball, Dorothy Vaughan, Patricia Bath, or Michelle Alexander. Hebrews in Egypt could’ve identified with Public Enemy’s line, “Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps.

Irrational Anxiety

Not only was there deliberate disinformation going on, there was also irrational anxiety. As Proverbs 28:1 says, “A wicked person flees when no one is chasing him” (NET). Why would this pharaoh imagine that a people whose ancestors had helped Egypt prosper during a catastrophic famine join ranks with a foreign army? Could it have been the unrestrained greed and unresolved guilt of the Egyptian leaders that aroused their fears of the Hebrews? Did his legacy of subjugating others to get ahead make him dread his chickens coming home to roost?

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Pharaoh’s ignorance and fear led to increasingly oppressive policies. The harsher the Egyptians treated the Israelites, the more they despised and feared them. What the pharaoh and his followers didn’t realize is that retribution wouldn’t come by the hands of the Hebrews themselves. God’s hand would hold His cup of wrath to their lips until the last drop of His indignation was swallowed. The more pharaoh hardened his heart against human cries for mercy and Divine calls for justice, the fuller the bitter cup of vengeance became.

Siphon Up – Trickle Down

Pharaoh could have saved his empire and family a lot of devastation by humbling himself before God and changing his ways. However, it seems almost impossible for rich, powerful bullies to repent. They fear that if they repent, then they might have to repay (Luke 19:1-10). Such people are rare as a camel walking through the eye of a needle. Most prefer to keep siphoning up surpluses, while stingily allowing droplets of sustenance to trickle down.

Just as ancient Egypt had its chance, 21st century pharaohs have their chance to reverse course and be agents of reconciliation, peace, and prosperity for the people under their authority. However, Revelation lets us know that just as with Egypt, worldly powers in the last days are filling up God’s cup of wrath by serving themselves at the people’s expense. Soon a global series of plagues will eclipse the severity of Egypt’s tribulation.

 

Exorcising the Demonic Forces of Fear

As in Exodus 12, there is a way for the people of God to escape, and it’s not by colonizing the moon or Mars. Jesus is our Passover Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world (1 Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29). This Lamb dedicated Himself to be our sacrifice before the world even began (Revelations 13:8). However, our profession of faith in Him has to be more than meeting under a steeple or having cross tattoos and jewelry (Matthew 7:21-23).

Faith in Jesus means walking in the light of truth and love with Him (1 John 1:6-7). As we walk with Jesus, He infuses us with a love that casts out fear and brings us into fellowship with others we wouldn’t normally gravitate to (1 John 2:6-11 and 4:18). Instead of seeking to take the life of others, Jesus’ love moves us to live sacrificially for their benefit (1 John 3:16-17, Romans 12:1). Living out the gospel in this manner gives us confidence, rather than fear, when judgment comes (Proverbs 19:17; Matthew 25:31-46). It also give us peace of mind in this life (2 Timothy 1:7).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




What’s Really At-Stake with Our Border Crisis

How What We Tolerate Regarding The Treatment of Migrant Men, Women and Children Can Determine The Fate of Other Vulnerable Populations

Children pulled mercilessly from the warm embrace of their mothers. Children locked behind chain link fences. Children staring at the cameras, their piercing eyes revealing a haunting sense of hopelessness.

Such were the heart-wrenching images that sparked national outrage over a zero-tolerance immigration policy ripping families apart. For many Americans – regardless of political, racial or religious affiliation – it crossed an invisible boundary.

But as we protest, as we march, as we peacefully petition our government denouncing oppression in our name, it is not just the lives of the innocent victims at stake – but also the very soul of our nation.

Vulnerable People

Swapna Reddy is co-director of the New York-based Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), which provides pro-bono legal services to unaccompanied minors in deportation proceedings. She said the number of children trapped in the U.S. legal system has increased significantly since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the zero-tolerance policy, audaciously quoting scripture as justification. The children, mostly from Central American countries, range in age from toddlers to teenagers.

“Basically, what we’re doing is we’re pretty much attacking a very vulnerable population,” said Reddy in an interview with Message. “We’ve started down a treacherous road with our immigration policies and are starting to do things that were unthinkable just a few years ago.”

Reddy said the Trump administration’s family-separation policy sets a precedent that could negatively impact other groups in the future.

“And so, while it’s immigrants now as a sort of targeted and vulnerable population,” she said, “ I think this certainly could be looked at in the future as the beginning of, perhaps, targeting other groups who are particularly vulnerable and don’t necessarily have the same protections as others do.”

Biblical Morality and Immigration

The Rev. David Vásquez-Levy serves as president of the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California – a multi-denominational seminary and center for social justice. He describes the zero-tolerance policy as “a pivotal moral issue for us as a nation.”

“Though a country of immigrants, the United States has a history of cruelty toward various groups of people, millions of them brought to America by way of slave ships,” Vásquez-Levy said. He likened the plight of immigrant children being separated from their parents to the pain that African American and Native American families endured in previous generations.

“For us as a society with so much power, affluence and resources, to use such force against families and children, it has drawn attention to what’s happening more broadly with our immigration practices,” he said. “What it does is it dehumanizes a particular group, and that’s resonating for us in various communities.”

People on The Move

Vásquez-Levy believes Christians, in particular, should be outraged by the government’s anti-immigrant posture. He considers it an affront to Scripture, which calls on people of faith to embrace foreigners in their midst.

How do we balance Biblical precedent with the today’s tough immigration interests without compromising?

“When you think about Biblical stories, most of them are about people on the move,” he said. “People moving because of hope and promise, like Abraham and Sarah, pursuing a dream with nothing but trust. Because of that, one of the most common commandments in the Bible is about protecting the stranger and remembering that we were strangers ourselves in Egypt.”

The story of the Israelites in bondage – another migration story – contains many similarities to what immigrant families in the U.S. and across the globe are experiencing today, he said.
“Joseph is in Egypt as a famine developed in the land of Canaan,” he said. “Then his family comes into Egypt. They settle, and the Book of Genesis talks about how good it was that they settled and then they grew and they were strong.”

Compounding Injury

K. Drew Devenport is an immigrant attorney and adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law. He said recent immigration policies could have a chilling effect on the idea of America as a melting pot and a country that embraces all cultures and ideas.

“This country is founded on the principle and belief that you could come here, realize your dreams and live in a free society,” he said. “And now we’re seeing it become more conservative and restrictive.”

Reddy, of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, said children who flee bad circumstances come to the U.S. with an intense amount of trauma.

“First, they’re traumatized by whatever caused them to leave the country, traveling hundreds and thousands of miles,” she said. “Then, there’s the journey itself, which is dangerous and scary. And, now, they’re separated from their parents in the United States, which just compounds the trauma.”

Stay Focused on Needs

Reddy said she has been heartened by the incredible and sustained response of Americans of all backgrounds who stood up on behalf of children caught in the system.

“A lot of times people’s attention turn quickly to other issues,” she said. “But what’s amazing is that this has been going on now for a few months at this point, and people are still pushing back. I think it’s a very good sign that these are ideals that many Americans hold dear no matter who they are or where they were born. They are fighting to keep them intact.”

Yet, it’s important to stay vigilant, holding government accountable at all levels, she said. She recommends contacting members of Congress to make sure they’re on the right side of the issue and continuing to protest against anti-immigrant policies that victimize the most vulnerable in society.

“We’re not saying that all of these children are eligible to stay in the United States,” she said. “But we are saying that they all should have a fair chance to make their case for U.S. protection so we as country are not sending children back into grave harm or even, potentially, death. And that’s what our asylum laws uphold.”




When They Come for the Children

When the Trump Administration enforced a zero-tolerance policy for all undocumented crossings at the United States’ southern border this past spring, we faced a moral crisis. The immigration policy—not law—had the effect of separating parents from their children so that the adults could be detained for prosecution.

Of the approximately 2,500 children seized and placed in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services custody since April 2018, most have been reunited with their families according to The Washington Post fact-checkers. Approximately one quarter of the children, remain in shelters or with foster families at the time of this writing. (Washington Post, August 10, 2018)

Breaching, Not Preaching the Word of God

What made zero-tolerance, the high rate of child detentions, and the heartbreak of the families worse, was the invocation of the Word of God as cover for the humanitarian crisis created. 

“Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution” said United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

What would happen if my time with my children got cut short?

We’ve Been Here Before

I’m reminded that this is not the first time that our government has permitted the creation of an orphaned people through involuntary separation. American slave trade permitted that all the time.

Henry “Skip” Gates has investigated hundreds of documents detailing the state of families under the slave trade in America. One such story is told of wealthy Charleston, South Carolina plantation owner and human trader Elias Bell. Bell’s records indicated a penchant for investing in “young negroes”—ages 10, 11, 12. He purchased six of them from the slave ship Hare in 1756.

“If any of the children had parents on board, they never saw them again,” wrote Gates in The African Americans (Gates, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The African Americans Many Rivers to Cross, Smiley Books, 2013).

Of course, scripture tracks some of its most prominent personalities in similar scenarios. The baby Moses escaped ethnic cleansing in a home-made basket, only to be picked up by Pharaoh’s family, yet providentially nursed by his own mother. Joseph’s brothers sold him into bondage, and he was trafficked into Egypt, never to see his mother again. Young men such as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego became symbols of conquest in the hands of haughty rulers, away from their homeland, family and childhood religious practices. Samuel, though voluntarily surrendered to the Lord’s service by his mother Hannah, was just a mere tot.

When They Come for Mine

What would happen if my time with my children got cut short? How would any child discern the loving concern of a Heavenly Father in the midst of the chaos and cruelty performed in the name of His righteousness?

Prolific and inspired writer Ellen G. White often examined the role of parents in what she viewed as momentous and sobering times. Daily deposits of parental love, she said, and godly counsel secure children in crisis, even in the absence of their parents.

Joseph learned from his father: “The early impressions made upon his mind garrisoned his heart in the hour of fierce temptations and led him to exclaim, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (White, Ellen, G. Child Guidance, Southern Publishing Association, 1954, p. 197.)

Moses learned from his mother: “Knowing that her child must soon pass beyond her care, to the guardianship of those who knew not God, she the more earnestly endeavored to link his soul with heaven. She sought to implant in his heart love and loyalty to God. And faithfully was the work accomplished. Those principles of truth that were the burden of his mother’s teaching and the lesson of her life, no after influence could induce Moses to renounce.” (White, Ellen G. Education, 1903)

Our mission, as parents is to prepare our children: “Have you taught your children from their babyhood to keep the commandments of God?…You are to teach them to form characters after the divine similitude, that Christ may reveal Himself to them. He is willing to reveal Himself to children.” (Child Guidance 489.6)

 




Jesus Loves the Little Children, (Some of) the Children of the World

 

They seemed surprised, as though they didn’t see this coming. Who is they? The 60% of white Catholics and 81% of white Evangelicals who embraced President 45’s message. What is it they didn’t see coming? Children being herded like cattle into chain-link fenced warehouses, reports of nursing infants being pried away from their mothers, and government officials abusing scripture to support severing family ties.

As a candidate in 2015, the President of the 81% voiced his admiration of and intention to reproduce Operation Wetback (yes, they really called it that) of 1954:

“Dwight Eisenhower, good president, great president, people liked him. ‘I Like Ike’, right? The expression. I like Ike. Moved a million 1/2 illegal immigrants out of this country, moved them just beyond the border. They came back. Moved them again, beyond the border, they came back. Didn’t like it. Moved them way south. They never came back. Dwight Eisenhower. You don’t get nicer, you don’t get friendlier. They moved a million 1/2 people out. We have no choice.”

Clear Choice

They didn’t see it coming? The “Two Corinthians” president wasted little time pardoning the racial profiling, tent city architect, Joe Arpaio. Why not pardon a man who shares the same contempt of the courts? Doesn’t it follow that the President would pardon a man who pioneered, on a local scale, what he promised to implement nationally?

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Heart-breaking Images

Why don’t they see the recent images and soundbites as the logical products of their values votes at work?

What did the defenders of family values think it was going to look and sound like when law enforcement exercises “zero tolerance” on people characterized as rapists, drug dealers, thugs, and bad hombres? Didn’t we already have photos of Arizona’s tent cities? Didn’t we already have the courts demanding a halt to the racial profiling that kept those tents full?

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Haven’t many of these MAGA-church members raised funds for overseas missions after seeing heartbreaking videos of scared, lonely, grieving, hungry, parentless children? And, haven’t they read about children who have been separated from family because of natural disasters, civil unrest, disease, crime, and war?  So, why didn’t they see that those images would be reproduced in our land if we implemented the political rhetoric of the last few years?

Ask about Indian boarding schools. While you are at it, ask about Japanese internment camps. Ask about the Children’s Crusade of Birmingham.  The “melanated” masses know what violence against children looks and sounds like. Why don’t the Christians who supported the candidate and now the President on these issues?

What happened to their Bibles?

What happened to “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts share its suffering. If one part is praised, all the others share in its happiness. You are Christ’s body and each of you is an individual part of it” (1 Cor. 12:26-27, God’s Word)? Why don’t the majority of “non-melanated” evangelicals empathize with the suffering that Christians of color articulate?

What happened to “He [God] makes sure orphans and widows receive justice. He loves foreigners and gives them food and clothes. So you should love foreigners, because you were foreigners living in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19, God’s Word)?

What happened to “’Whoever deprives foreigners, orphans, or widows of justice will be cursed.’ Then all the people will say amen” (Deuteronomy 27:19, God’s Word)?

What happened to “The LORD protects foreigners. The LORD gives relief to orphans and widows” (Psalm 146:9, God’s Word)?

What happened to “This is what the Lord Almighty says: Judge fairly and honestly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people” (Zechariah 7:9-10, New Living Translation)?

And What About What it Says About the Little Ones?

What happened to “Beware that you don’t despise a single one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father” (Matthew 18:10, New Living Translation)?

What happened to “And he [Jesus] will answer, ‘I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me’” (Matt. 25:45, NLT)?

What happened to “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:8-9, NKJV)?

What happened to “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10, New King James Version)?

If Jesus loves all the children of the world, why don’t His followers?