As the controversy over Syrian refugees rages on, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this situation, and for the longest time I got sucked into the spirit of fear over this issue. Then a number of things struck me.
Firstly, some of my grandparents were refugees and some were immigrants. The refugees relied on the immigrants for help in adjusting to Canadian life. They didn’t speak a word of English when they arrived, and one even had health problems that prevented him from joining his family for a period of time. He was held in a “detention” area until he was deemed well enough to travel. Many of my grandparents’ peers were also refugees. Running to escape war and terror in Ukraine. They arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs and hands willing to work. Embarrassed by their situation (since they once had property and money), they did everything possible to repay their sponsors for their debts of transportation across the Atlantic. They worked hard, they built businesses and churches and taught their children and grandchildren the importance of hard work and getting along with others. They were part of the new multi-cultural ethnic Canadians.
So here I am, almost 100 years later born and raised into Canadian society. Where would I be today if they hadn’t decided to make Canada their home? Would I even exist? Would they have been murdered like so many of their families and peers? I exist because they took the chance to cross the Atlantic and build a new home in a foreign country. I am grateful for that.
Regarding this new influx of refugees, one of the fears that exist is “who will pay to support these refugees while they go through the transitional period?” “Will they try to work, or will they depend on the public welfare system for support indefinitely?” “Our health care system can’t even handle our population, how will they handle a massive influx so quickly?” I think what we forget is that Canada brings in tens of thousands of refugees every year. We don’t hear about it so much because they come from many places around the world. Somehow we always find space for them, and most of them eventually adjust to Canadian society, finding jobs and creating businesses. If the first generation has difficulty adapting, successive generations usually adapt quite well. The difference this year is that the refugees are coming from one area of the world and are a particular migrant type, predominately associated with a particular religious group that is linked to the issue that is causing the problems in the first place.
People are afraid that terrorism activities will suddenly develop here in our country. The unfortunate reality is that there are already terror cells in our country that are being monitored by proper authorities. No, we don’t want those cells to increase and we would like to see them all disrupted and disappear. However, when you look at the individuals who have participated in the terror attacks around the world, they are often home grown with no previous signs of desiring to cause such destruction. Yes, its possible (as in the Paris attacks) that some individuals will slip through the screening process and cause future problems. Do we stop an influx of genuine refugees from obtaining safety and security, food and shelter because there might be a few bad apples in the bunch?
At some point we have to trust the vetting process. Ordinary citizens are not in control of the vetting process. The UN and other agencies are put in place to do that job. Those persons are trained and have been doing this job for many years. Think of it this way: do you go to your untrained next door neighbor for medical advice when you are sick, or do you go to your doctor? Every occupation has its experts, and we need to trust the process and rely on those experts to do what they do best.
Then there is the religion issue. Canada & the USA have been (since their founding) primarily two christian nations built on christian principles. Will an influx of people from other religions change the religious makeup of our culture? Yes, probably. However, here is another possibility to chew on. What if every church took one family and introduced them to our christian value system where we (as at least we are supposed to) teach and PRACTICE love in the real world. Can we introduce love and show how it can replace fear? Would that change the world we live in?
As christians, we are supposed to be working to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. How can we do that without disrupting culture? Love dispels hate, love squashes fear, love embraces change. If we can’t show love, what are we showing? Jesus disrupted the culture of his day, he embraced the downtrodden, the homeless, the lepers, and the worst sinners of his society (even tax collectors!). He changed their world and in the process changed the culture of the entire world forever. He taught love to everyone he met. In the process he spoke truth and called a spade a spade. He was not politically correct in his generation and the authorities hated him for that and eventually killed him for that. But he showed us something else very important: Light dispels darkness. Darkness does not invade light unless we allow it to do so.
These new immigrants will disrupt our current culture and our current society. They may bring with them fear, hate, and other disparaging problems. Its possible. But its also possible that they might not. How we react to them will determine whether or not we will disrupt a culture of fear and hate and replace it with a culture of love and honor, or whether we will allow the fear and hate to continue. If we can be a light in a dark world, the darkness will flee. If we can bring hope we will bring faith. If we can bring faith, we will bring love. In the end love conquers all.
[ Love Your Enemies ] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren[i]only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors[j] do so?48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.…Matthew 5:43-48 (NKJV) BibleGateway.com
Today’s prayer: Dear Father God, please help us to remember why you came to earth. You came to show us love, show us hope and show us who you are. You modelled how we are to live and how we are to die. You showed us your true heart through the life and death of your only son, Jesus the Messiah, the Christ. Remind us of the great love that he shared with us. He died for us so that we could live. Our sins forgiven forever so that we can live feeling loved and forgiven, without guilt and shame. And we can look forward to an eternity in your presence where the fullness of your love will envelope us for all eternity. Help us to be love to those around us, to build communities of love and faith and forgiveness. Help us to be a light in a very dark world. Help us to bring your kingdom to earth. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
The only law in the New Covenant is the law of love, based on Jesus’ statement to His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”(John 13:34). To get a proper understanding of this command to love, we need to first understand two groups who existed during the first century—the Judaizers and the Antinomians. Judaizers were the first century covenant theologians; they wanted to drag the old covenant into the new covenant. Paul wrote the entire Book of Galatians in response to the error of the Judaizers, and he battled their false teaching everywhere he went. The polar opposite to the Judaizers were the Antinomians, who said there is no law. Anti means “against,” and nomian means “law.” They were literally against any laws. They believed grace meant that they could sin as much as…
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I clearly remember 9-11-01. My husband was an airline captain flying the Boeing 767 for a major airline. He had an overseas flight scheduled that night and after a quick coffee with me, he returned to bed at approximately 8:30 a.m., planning on trying to sleep for another six hours. I returned to my office to work in our small home based business. Within a few minutes, he ran downstairs and called out to me – “Come watch CNN, some idiot just flew a small airplane into one of the twin towers.”
I returned upstairs just in time to watch the second aircraft hit the second tower. My husband stated, “Oh, that’s just a replay of the first one.”
“I don’t think so,” I replied. “It looks like a different building.”
We watched together for a few minutes and then he said he needed to get back to sleep so that he could be in position to go to work that night. I continued to watch the incredibly confusing news event. No one seemed to know what had happened, or what was happening. Within the next hour there was a report of an airplane crashing into the Pentagon, and another aircraft down in Pennsylvania. At one point there were reports of possibly five or six aircraft either missing or down. No one seemed to know what was happening.
I sat there with my stomach in knots. My spirit said “someone has just declared war on America,” but I prayed it wasn’t so. Within a few hours, it was fairly clear that THAT indeed was exactly the case. It didn’t take long for the entire country to shut its doors to all further flights.
Later, when my husband got up to go to work, my employee knocked on the bathroom door, and yelled at him in her characteristic brash manner: “Don’t bother getting all dolled up, you won’t be going to work.”
He came out of the bathroom in disbelief. “What are you talking about?”
I replied, “The entire country is shut down, no one is going anywhere.”
“I don’t believe you. That’s impossible.”
I pointed to the television and the ticker tape running across the bottom of the CNN screen. “All airports are shut down. All flights are suspended across North America.”
He went to the telephone to call crew scheduling. The exasperated voice on the other end promptly told him, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you. All flights are grounded until further notice.”
He turned from the phone in disbelief. “What the…I don’t understand!”
I remember saying: “Someone just declared war on the USA.”
His reply was “you’re delusional.”
I just smiled, pointed to the television, and said “watch. The world is at war.”
“Impossible” he argued. “No one would dare take on the USA. This has to be some nut job or some complete mistake.”
We both sat there in disbelief for quite a while, as the scene replayed over and over. Our minds tried to make sense of what we were seeing by coming up with different possible scenarios to the what and why of the event. Eventually, I tried to go back to my work, answer routine phone calls and look after routine paperwork. But everything moved very slowly that day. My husband eventually went outside and starting raking the grounds – an activity that (still to this day) he often resorts to when he is restless or deep in thought.
The next few days were days of concern. What if this war came to Canada? Who is Al Qaeda? What exactly do Muslims believe? What would this mean for his job? Would the airline be affected? Were we safe? Were our kids safe? What would this terrorist organization do next? Life was suddenly knowingly unpredictable.
I felt numb for days and scared for months later. Eventually, the planes started flying again and my husband returned to work. I prayed for his safety and protection. For months, every day my mind made up different disaster scenarios. I was terrified that I would lose my husband in a similar disaster. Terrified that Canada would be next.
During this time, many people called to find out if my husband was flying that day. People were concerned for his safety. For months, many people assured us that they were praying for his protection. To say that I was happy that others cared so much was an understatement.
Many flight crews were stuck in hotels and strange places for weeks after 9-11. Once permission was granted for flights to resume, it took a good week or more of reorganization by the international airlines to get all the airplanes in the position where they needed to be so that regular flight schedules could be re-established. And many flight crews had to either find a way home on their own or pay their own expenses when they were stuck in an unfamiliar country or city. It was chaos for the entire month of September, and even into October. I was very grateful that my husband was not scheduled to fly until later that night. Many wives and families were not as fortunate as I was.
When you realize that you don’t have control over what you thought you had control over, one’s sense of rationality goes out the window. Suddenly you don’t know how to respond, and you don’t know what or whom to believe. A sense of panic sets in. Life looks very different. Things that were not important before suddenly become important. Things that mattered before are no longer of any consequence.
When I look back on these past fourteen years, I can say with certainty, that my faith took a giant leap during that declaration of war. I could no longer trust myself or those around me to control not only my world, but even the world at large. I had no choice but to look up. My spirit knew God was still in control. Only he knew the big picture. And I needed to put my trust in that confidence. After all, if God is in control, we don’t have to worry.
I know people say, why would God allow that to happen? No one knows the real answer to that, but my understanding is this: We are all given the freedom to choose good or evil. Whatever path we choose, there are natural consequences. God usually uses the natural world, or the law of consequence, to put his mark on events and situations.
Did any good come out of 9-11? Yes. Countries woke up and realized that it was time to stand up to the evil in the world on a global scale. Countries realized that the lessons learned in WW2 had been largely forgotten. Countries learned that they were not invincible. And people all over the world began to take a stand against evil. Good is worth fighting for. Good is worth dying for.
I pray that the lessons learned during this horrific day will never be forgotten. Let us never again be so pompous that we think we are invincible, or that we think that our nation is invincible. We need to remember. We need to re-tell our stories so that the world never forgets. We need to stand on guard for ourselves, our families and our country against evil. We need to say, never again, No evil shall assault me, my family or my country, as long as I can stand guard. God protect us. And God help us.
My prayer: “Dear God, as we remember this day, we remember all the lives that were lost. Please bring comfort to those surviving families that still grieve because they still remember. Bring comfort to the families of the soldiers who have perished while fighting to keep evil away from our lands. Help them to cherish the good times and to forget the bad times. Bring resolve and unity to the countries of the world to continue to fight the evil that threatens our homelands. Intervene and deter those who would do us harm. Bless those who work every day to protect us. Bless those who fight every day for our freedom. Protect Canada and the USA as we continue to join together in this fight against terror. May we never have to fight this fight on our own soil. God bless Canada, and God bless America.”