Very recently, near my little hometown, our nation’s president came to speak. People gathered, news media teams crowded together and somewhere in the middle of it all, a chant began in unison with three simple words, “Send her back.” 

As a homeschooling Mama of four, I typically tend to stay focused on the life right in front of me. I’m not “politically active” and I don’t often take the opportunity to share my opinion about the events in the world surrounding me, because there are so many voices already shouting their opinions, I’m not sure I can add anything of value to the conversation. 

But here’s a funny thing about this particular incident: it is more personal to me than I first realized. A text message from my sister woke me up to the question. “How does it make you feel, being an ‘immigrant family’?” 

What you might not know about me, if you’re perhaps reading words I’ve written for the first time, is that I married an immigrant. We met at church in Scotland. I was a visiting resident and student — you could say I was a temporary immigrant — from the US, he was an immigrant from South Africa working toward British citizenship. By the time we married, he had British citizenship and I was his immigrant wife — an American alien in the UK. 

Thus began the story of two people who began to build a family together, not sure where they were headed but hopeful about making a difference somewhere in this big wide world of ours.

Twelve years later, we are happily married with four children, settled in eastern North Carolina. We moved back to my hometown with a heap of debt, but with encouragement and support from my family, (special thanks to my cousin who gave us a free place to stay when we first landed!) and heaps of prayer, hard work and hustle, we went from hard times to happier days in less than a decade.

A few days before the incident that made headlines from Eastern North Carolina, I was reading a different story about a crowd chanting in unison, in agreement. They were shouting “Give us Barrabas.” Were they a crowd or a mob? And what is the difference? And how would they feel, if they knew what I’m certain of — they traded a murderer for their Savior while they shouted “Crucify Him!’

I don’t have all the answers to the questions of Immigration. I know our nation is flooded, understaffed and underfunded to appropriately handle the problems at our borders. 

If the story was different, my husband could have chosen to stay in South Africa, and could today be showing up at the Mexican Border like many other South Africans, seeking asylum as a refugee. 

But we are here now, in this story. Raising children, paying taxes, tithing to our church and supporting ministries locally and internationally. Do you know what most immigrants want? They want to eat food every day. Want a safe place to raise their children. To work for a decent paycheck and contribute to their communities. 

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

What I want to live is this: I am first a Christian, second a wife, third a mother. Somewhere further down the list, maybe after church member — there is the description “American.” 

What I want to posit here is this:

If we say we are Christians, our allegiance to Christ has to supersede all other allegiances. So if Christ asks us to welcome the stranger, then welcoming the stranger is an act of obedience to the God we claim to follow, to love, to believe in.

There’s this mind-bending moment in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 25) where Jesus talks about separating sheep from goats when He returns and inherits the Kingdom that is His to rule. He welcomes the blessed and explains the reason they’re coming into the Kingdom: 

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…” 

They gave Jesus clothes, looked after Him when He was sick, visited Him in prison.

Wildly enough, the righteous He is welcoming in seem confused and ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you…?”

His response is very simple, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Could this be a higher calling? Could we as Christians find ways to answer this call and welcome the stranger into our lives and our communities? 

In 1941, the American government refused visas to many Jews, including the family of Otto Frank. Frank was instead forcing into hiding, with his wife and two daughters. One daughter kept a diary until her family was discovered by the Gestapo and sent to concentration camps. That daughter — Anne Frank — would be in her 80s today. 

And does knowing her story make a difference? Being able to read her diary and know that she was a little girl who wanted to grow up … to have plenty of food to eat .. to survive?

Doesn’t every person have a story?

We look back on World War II today with contempt for the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. But we refused boatloads of refugees — both in the literal sense and in the paperwork sense. 

I pray we will not allow fear to force us into making the same mistakes. 

A few weeks ago, I shared some thoughts with you about what brave looks like— how there are lots of different ways to be brave and maybe more opportunities in our day to day life to choose to “fear not” than we might at first realize.

What can we do to be brave in response to the world refugee crisis? As a former immigrant, and as the wife of an immigrant, I cannot choose to stay silent.

Here are three ideas for facing the crisis that will affect us all.

1. Refuse to let ignorance be an excuse. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye because the truth is hard to look at. If the roles were reversed, we’d be praying for the world to see our plight! The FAQs at might be a fantastic place to start.

2. Consider giving or volunteering to help “the least of these.” Organizations like World Relief often have local chapters that might simply ask you to be a friend, help someone move in, or tutor a student starting over in a school in a new country. If you have some skin in the game and begin to understand the stories — remember, every person has a story — you might discover the world is a lot smaller than you think.

3. Pray like you mean it. At the end of 2018 the UNCHR estimated that 70.8 million people were displaced worldwide. Read that number again. It’s more than a fifth of the population of the United States. Pray that God will help us AND our leaders find solutions to this crisis.

God whispered to His people thousands of years ago, “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” {Ex. 22:21} Look for a stranger to welcome today right where you are, and pray that God will give you privilege of feeding the hungry or giving clothes to those who need them, and discovering that you did those things for Jesus Himself.



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