Friday, January 13, 2017

Loving God's Kids

While I was in Tulsa last week, I had a wonderful opportunity to attend a Prayer and Inspiration Service for immigrants. There were probably over 500 Latinos gathered together at St.Thomas More Parish in Tulsa. These precious people were being encouraged in their desires for immigration to the U.S. How befitting that this service took place the day before Epiphany Sunday. Mary and Joseph understood immigration. They had to escape from the perils of a wicked king and go to a safe place.

This post isn't to give my take on the debate for the border wall implications, but to simply share my own experience as an alien in the past. I have somewhat of a sense of what it feels like to be an immigrant because my husband and I desired to move to Canada years ago. While he was a resident of the U.S., he was still and always was a citizen of Canada, but for us to be able to move there, it meant for myself and our children to file for our Canadian residency. We had to go through much red tape and documentation, medical reviews and a lot of reviews to go in with my husband who was a natural born Canadian citizen. Eventually we were approved, as a family, to move to Canada and even my precious mother was able to move there with us. She was able to receive her Canadian pension along with her U.S. social security, be blessed with medical treatments that she needed without having to pay for any of it. I was able to obtain one of the best jobs that I had ever hoped to have at the University of Manitoba. I was paid well for my employment there, and to this day, I still receive my Canadian pension. Our children became viable working people there. Our son, Ryan, became a top realtor at the age of 19. Our daughter was Miss Manitoba and went on to compete in the Miss Canada pageant and win the talent portion. She also represented Canada as a soloist in the 1986 Winter Olympics. In addition, she ran a modeling company for malls.

Canada opened its doors to our children and myself. We were aliens in a foreign land, but were respected and given the rights of other Canadians, and we proved our value because we were given the opportunities we had hoped for. I thought about that when I was in this room and a beautiful Spanish Pastor gave his own story as a landed immigrant to the U.S. My heart was so touched to see a room filled with people who sincerely desired the freedoms and the opportunity to be in the U.S. This pastor said “I know that many in this room are just waiting for your permit. You are people that are here not for welfare and not for a hand out but are here to work. Most of you in this room have valuable skills that can benefit this country. You are paying taxes every time you buy a hamburger and a pair of socks here. He recommended that they save money, educate and prepare themselves for acceptance.

He gave them the story of blind Bartimaeus who was begging on the streets. He heard Jesus was coming his way and cried out “Jesus have mercy on me. Jesus have mercy on me.” People in the crowd tried to shut him up, but he cried out even more. Jesus heard him and asked what he wanted from Him. Bartimaeus could have replied, “I want money. I want to be fed. I want a hand out.” But, he didn’t say those things. He asked to be able to see. This pastor said to the immigrants in this room. “You are no different. Jesus is passing your way. Call out to Him to help you. Reach out and continue to say “Jesus, have mercy on me! Help me.” Just be patient and be strong and He will say to you “What can I do for you?”

I’m reminded of Emma Lazarus’ poem at the Statute of Liberty that says “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

May God bless those honest, caring people who sincerely desire a safe home, a place to raise their families, a place where they can do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay and a country that welcomes them as viable, contributing citizens. And God bless all of us realize this world is not our final home. We are here on this earth as a temporary assignment. We are strangers in a foreign land, but one day, we'll join together in thunderos applause and shouting out "WE'RE HOME SWEET HOME!