Don Morris urges response in the way of Jesus
In response to one of the biggest issues in modern times, immigration, I wish to state emphatically that USMB desires to respond to this crisis in the way of Jesus, who often showed respect and compassion to others—to those who were not only different but who were marginalized by culture (Luke 10:30-37; John 4:1-42).
Throughout history people have been forced to migrate due to war, famine or other circumstances. To prohibit those who are displaced from coming into our country as an offer of refuge goes against the way of Jesus that we as Mennonite Brethren hold dear.
It is my hope and prayer that the current hold on immigration of refugees by our government is indeed temporary as has been expressed and that this temporary hold will result in a wide acceptance of refugees in the very near future. In part, I can understand the ideal that our government wants to ensure the safety of its current citizens. In that light, the amount of vitriol leveled at our new president and government by many who are followers of Jesus is also not the way of Jesus. We are called to submit to and I believe pray for our leaders (Romans 13). Again, President Trump has not called for a permanent ban on immigration for the selected countries, only a temporary pause while better systems are put in place. The reaction to this decision by many believers is out of bounds, in my opinion.
However, that said, my personal view is that as we welcome and care for refugees, God’s protection will be on our side. I do call upon our government to end this ban quickly, and it is my hope that after the ban is lifted we will see a monumental movement to welcome many refugees. In addition, I pray that we will also diligently act to keep families together. Deportation of one member of a family that results in unbearable heartache to families is not the way of Jesus.
Immigration is now a worldwide issue. Our history in America has been characterized by influxes of immigrants and will likely be a part of our history for years to come. It is indeed sad that some militants have caused fear to pervade the migration of peoples to other parts of the world, but again, that should not prohibit our country from being a source of refuge for the hurting and displaced.
If we look at immigration from an evangelistic perspective, welcoming those who need a place to belong can result in not only caring for their physical needs, but also providing opportunities to share the good news of Jesus. That said, many who are currently without a home are Christians. It should be a blessing to allow them to become a part of our nation.
As the national director of the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, I respectfully call upon our country’s leaders to move quickly to establish mechanisms of entry so that we might welcome refugees in need.
The National Association of Evangelicals has developed specific values concerning the migration of peoples that expresses justice and compassion. I share those principles here:
- That immigrants be treated with respect and mercy by our churches. Exemplary treatment of immigrants by Christians can serve as the moral basis to call for government attitudes and legislation to reflect the same virtues.
- That the government develop structures and mechanisms that safeguard and monitor the national borders with efficiency and respect for human dignity.
- That the government establish more functional legal mechanisms for the annual entry of a number of immigrant workers and families.
- That the government recognize the central importance of the family in society by reconsidering the number and categories of visas available for family reunification, by dedicating more resources to reducing the backlog of cases in process and by reevaluating the impact of deportation on families.
- That the government establish a sound, equitable process toward earned legal status for currently undocumented immigrants, who desire to embrace the responsibilities and privileges that accompany citizenship.
- That the government legislate fair labor and civil laws for all residing within the United States that reflect the best of this country’s heritage.
- That immigration enforcement be conducted in ways that recognize the importance of due process of law, the sanctity of the human person and the incomparable value of family.
May the Lord find us faithful in our ministry to the downtrodden, the homeless and those caught in the crossfires of war and strife and at the same time demonstrate respect toward those who have been chosen to lead our country.
Don Morris, USMB National Director