Saturday, September 5, 2015

Guest Post: We Are All...

I like to browse the comment section in the news stories that I read. Well, I don't like to do it but I do it. I don't know why I do it because it always leaves me feeling grumpy and dark and like I need to take a shower.

Reading the news this week and the comments afterwards has been particularly painful. I like to think that the people commenting are ordinary, decent Canadians and it's just that the comment sections brings out the worst in them.
A screen grab of the comment section.

One comment, posted on a story about the refugee crisis, was arguing against bringing any refugees to Canada: "I work hard for my house, my car, my cottage," it began.

I couldn't help but think of Amos 3:15: "'I will strike the winter house along with the summer house...,' declares the Lord."

We think that we have the things we have because we earned them and we fail to realize that so little is earned and so much is gifted.

My son throws up his hands and cries, "It's not fair!" when I refuse to buy him a new toy. "You want to know what's not fair?" his mother quips. Because his mother has lost more sleep taking care of him than he can imagine. His mother has cleaned up most of the poop and vomit and pee that his body has produced so far. He probably won't realize what his mother has done for him until he has children of his own some day.

this is what your co-workers are doing while you're working.
I remember grumbling about the chores I had to do when I was a kid, never realizing that the small amount my parents wanted me to contribute paled in comparison to how I benefited from the work they did.

I'm a self-sustaining grown-up now and I still benefit so much from the kindness and the hard work of other people.

On the radio today, I was listening to an interview with a Vietnamese-Canadian who fled Saigon in the 1970s as an eleven-year-old. Her parents sent her, by herself, on a crowded boat out into the ocean to find refuge because they knew it was the best chance she had to have a good life, to have liberty. The boat she was on was boarded by pirates who took all the food and gasoline. They continued on by sail until they landed in Malaysia. She was put in a refugee camp with thousands of others. And she just had to wait for somebody to pick her.

In those years, Canada took in tens of thousands of refugees from Vietnam. We call them the boat people. I've met some of them, in Toronto, and I've seen how we haven't suffered at all from taking them in, in fact they've enriched our country.

The woman who was being interviewed told about how she was told one day that a Canadian family was going to sponsor her to come to Canada. They brought her to Canada and then they sponsored her mother and father, and later, her brother, so her whole family was able to come.

Now, this woman is spearheading an effort among the Vietnamese immigrants to sponsor more refugees to come to Canada.

t-rex could be anybody-could be your grandmother.
That story made me think that, fundamentally, we are no different. We are all refugees.

I don't mean to make light of anybody's hardship when I say that.

But we are all born helpless. We rely so much on the kindness of others. We take so much for granted. We know this is true.

The Vietnamese-Canadian woman's story is a metaphor for all of us. When she left Vietnam, she had no prospect, she was setting out in hope. In hope that somewhere, somebody would have compassion. There was nothing else she could do. She couldn't work to earn passage to anywhere, she was put in a camp and she couldn't leave until somebody picked her. Until somebody paid so that she could come to Canada. Somebody she didn't even know, somebody she'd never met before.

We are teaching our children this verse,

"God ... saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works, but because of His purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began." (2 Timothy 1:9)

We are dependent on God's grace. We can't do anything to save ourselves, in fact, we'd sooner run the other way. We like to think of ourselves as self-sustaining grown-ups, but God sees us all as infants. Infants that he snatches out of danger. Just like refugees we don't choose to be rescued, we can't. We rely completely on grace. I am the recipient of grace.

Not just in Salvation but in everything. Everything is a gift.

That's why I care. Because I am--we are all--in need of refuge.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

There Is Room

Today I went to the beach.
With my kids.

Not to pay a smuggler $4500 to launch us out in 5-foot waves on a rubber raft.
Not to gather the body of my son, washed ashore.

Just to play.

And afterward, we came home.
To our house, where every one of us has a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear, and (too much) food to eat.

And when the babies were napping peacefully (without ragged breaths of fear that someone might kill us for whatever they imagine we're doing wrong) I clicked mindlessly onto the internet.

And people were arguing about how many refugees we can take because there isn't enough room.  And people were putting up walls in hearts and ballot boxes with the lie that there aren't enough jobs to share.  

And I don't have any magic solutions but I'm looking around my house in the heart of the true north and I think what are we strong and free for, if not to welcome the oppressed?  

What's the good of an extra bed, if it never welcomes someone in need?  Why not share these extra calories with someone who needs them?  Could we stretch our budgets in a different direction -  to say Refugees Welcome instead of Merry Christmas this year?

I know I'm not the only one who cried in front of the computer screen today.  I'm willing to bet that a lot of guest rooms would be made ready in a heartbeat if the government waived some red tape and asked Canadians to step up to the crisis. 

There is room in this inn.  Refugees Welcome.