Saturday, March 17, 2012

Love the Foreigner as Yourself

During Lent this year, directors of LaFe, InterVarsity's Latino student fellowship, presented the opportunity for staff to pray and fast for undocumented students. This is a significant and growing population of students, and the director's brought to my attention the sadness, loneliness, and lack of opportunity felt by undocumented students- many of whom discover their undocumented status for the first time when applying to college. I have interacted with students and others who are undocumented, and know a little bit of the struggle they endure, but there is always more to learn if God has anything to do with it.
Obviously immigration is a very politically charged issue, but what is most important is what God's heart is for the people involved. The LaFe directors have sent out weekly devotionals for those of us who have chosen to fast and pray, and what has been most eye opening for me has been the Scriptures they have had us read and the guided prayers they wrote.
Especially in the first five books of the Bible there are quite a few verses where God repeats "Care for the foreigner who lives among you". Today I was reading Leviticus 19:9-34, and I was kind of bracing myself for some weird and rigid laws (I guess in my mind that is the on the surface connotation Leviticus has...there it is, full disclosure). But, as I have been most of this week as I've been preparing to teach the second half of Mark at Spring Break Camp, I find myself saying "Dang God- that is deep!" God has a habit of blowing my mind when I don't expect it. Throughout the Leviticus passage, God is backing up the people that no one else is backing up: the poor, the foreigner, hired workers, female slaves, women in general, the elderly, foreigners again. He also talks a lot about loving your neighbor in general, and being fair towards them. He ends a lot of these laws with "I am the Lord your God", like He's saying "I, God take this seriously, so why shouldn't you?"
 I was hit especially by verses 15, 17 and 18, and 33 and 34.
15, because God says to not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the rich. The part about the rich kind of took me aback, because I didn't expect to be reminded that the rich can't be ignored either. I think I tend to lean towards partiality towards the poor, but God wants to love and do work in rich people as well. It just seems like sometimes its a little more difficult for Him to get into the hearts of the rich. But Jesus doesn't ignore the rich. One part of Mark that I was prepping for this week was about the rich young ruler who Jesus tells to sell all he has and give to the poor. I don't think Jesus told him to do that because Jesus didn't want him to be rich, but because Jesus knew what was in his heart, and what was in the way of the man following Him. Money tends to do that, I guess.
17 and 18, because God is pointing out what hatred and grudges do to the one who holds them. Dang God.
33 and 34, probably because it brought to mind how much we in America are not doing what God is asking. The foreigners among us are definitely not treated as those who are native born. The stigma and poverty surrounding most undocumented immigrants makes that clear. Way to go us. But I can't go blaming other people before looking at myself and the ways that I might not be loving the foreigners around me, the ways that I am a contributor. For that I need to pray these prayers:

God of the Disenfranchised, guide me today in empowering the powerless so they might know their salvation in You.

Lord, give me a place to call home, in the deepest sense. Teach me to offer my "home" generously, especially to those who are pushed into unfamiliar places.

(Helpful articles also found here:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lenten Encouragement

I realize that pretty much everything I've been posting has been quoting someone else, but at this point in my journey I feel that encouragement from others (books included) has been what has kept me going. For Lent I borrowed a daily devotional from my dad by Henri Nouwen called "From Fear to Love", and it challenges and speaks to me every day. Today's was especially encouraging.

"Everything I Have is Yours"
Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. -Psalm 138:8

"So often people grow resentful and bitter as they grow older. With time their image of an ideal life is disturbed because painful historical, political, personal, family, or financial realities break through.
Your pain, seen in the light of a spiritual journey, can be interpreted. The great art is to gradually trust that life's interruptions are the places where you are being molded into the person you are called to be. Interruptions are not disruptions of your way to holiness, but rather are places where you are being molded and formed into the person God calls you to be. You know you are living a grateful life when whatever happens is received as an invitation to deepen your heart, to strengthen your love, and to broaden your hope. You are living a grateful life when something is taken away from you that you thought was so important and you find yourself willing to say, "Maybe I'm being invited to a deeper way of living.
-Father, I trust that you are molding me into my truest, best self. Help me to accept the changes in my life."

I know that God always leads me to deeper and wider places, and I am learning what it looks like to keep holding tightly to His hand.