About ten to twelve years ago, I was writing a monthly column for the Assemblies of God magazine ‘Joy’. Troubled by newspaper articles and the conversations I was hearing around me, I wrote an article on immigration. Although the problem has massively escalated, I still feel the same and stand by what I wrote then. In Revive Church, we have a fairly large immigrant population at our core. When this article was first published, some of these people from other lands let me know that this is exactly how they feel, too. I’m reprinting the article because I believe it is still relevant to where we, and our nation, are today.
“Do not oppress foreigners in any way.” Ex 22.21 NLT
For a long time, I have wanted to write this article, but I have always sensed it would be highly controversial, with extremely wide and strongly held opinions.
But the other day, after reading several negative articles in the newspapers and then, as I crossed the city, overhearing negative comments between two middle aged women, I decided the time was right. I want to write about the foreigners within our shores.
Like many of you, I am incensed when I read that crime in some areas has risen by 35% and chief police officers attribute it to immigrants.
I am deeply troubled to hear that so many now live on U.K. benefits, even receiving Family Allowance or credit for children still residing in their own country, when our own pensioners, who have contributed taxes all their lives, receive so little.
I am angered by people of other faiths, inciting violence and terrorism on one hand, whilst seeking asylum from their own troubled, corrupt and oppressive nations on the other.
I am saddened to know that among Oxfords Christian spires, the Islamic call to prayer three times a day, may soon be heard.
And probably, most disturbing of all, is the understanding that because of the world in which we live, in which political correctness rules, none of us dare speak out for fear of being labelled racist. Our government is afraid to enforce boundaries, to the detriment of our own people.
There is no doubt that the media fuels these feelings of fear and helplessness and I have made a conscious decision to limit how much I read.
Above all else, I choose to be a woman of God. My personal opinion is immaterial. When I became a Christian, Jesus and His word began to shape who I am, how I behave and what I believe. I refuse to let the tabloid press form my opinions. And who of us could say, hand on heart, that if we had been born in a violent, impoverished and corrupt nation, we wouldn’t have sought better for ourselves and our children.
The Bible has much to say about the foreigner and the stranger within our land.
Leviticus 19.33. “ When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him…. treat him as one of your native born…. Love him as yourself.”
Hebrews 13.2. “ Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
See also Matt 25.35 – 40.
And more than that, I love living in a nation with such diversity. I would hate to live in an all white, all English speaking country. I love the national costumes, the foreign languages, the exciting food, the stunningly beautiful different skin colours. One of my favourite coffee shops is always half full of foreign students and asylum seekers, laughing and talking animatedly and drinking their espressos.
Our church is enriched and enlivened by Christians from nations all over the world. They are instrumental in our recent growth, they influence our prayer and our worship. They are men and women of God, who we deeply respect. They are educated, work hard and raise their children with strong moral principles. I would not want a life that did not include them.
I am proud to belong to a nation that shelters the oppressed but I would urge our government to put in place and enforce immigration laws for all our sakes, including the immigrant. And if I could, I would write a letter to every foreigner entering our nation, that says something like this:-
“Dear Immigrant/Asylum seeker/foreigner,
Welcome to this great and ancient land. We pray that while you are with us, our God will bless and prosper you and your loved ones. We pray that you will live in safety, have a good life and make many new friends. But for you to make the most of this experience, please try to learn a little of our language to help you to communicate with us.
And when our eyes meet, please smile back at me, because I genuinely wish you well and a smile transcends all languages.
Work hard and contribute to this nation that has given you shelter, and should you fall on hard times, make use of our welfare state until you are back on your feet. And “until” is a key word. Most of us despise even our own people who see benefits as a chosen way of life.
Don’t contribute to our crime, violence, immorality and vice, we have enough of it already, it is destroying us. Instead bring your strong morals, family values and a desire to live better lives.
Practice your own faith, without fear and in safety. You should know many of us respect you for your firmly held beliefs.
And when you look at Great Britain, you may see it as a secular society and there is now some truth in that, but you will find that at our heart and shaping much of our greatness is our God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Still today, in our nation, hundreds of thousands continue to be His ardent followers. And our prayer is that this Jesus, our God will bless you and reveal Himself to you, because to know Him will bring the biggest life change of all, because He says, ‘I am come that they may life and have it to the full.’ John 10.10.”