I have been thinking about immigration. A lot. And I find that I have some very conflicting thoughts and emotions. You see my grandfather was an immigration patrol officer and in his later years he was an immigration investigator who tracked down illegals. I grew up in a town with a lot of illegal immigrants and with the viewpoint that being in the country illegal should be, at the very least, frowned upon. I grew up in a town where many immigrants were looked down upon because they didn’t know english and because their jobs were cleaning house, working in the orchards, etc.
Well when I moved to New Hampshire and started my internship I realized that immigration isn’t black and white, especially within the church. And that is where I struggle. For so long I looked at immigration as black and white. They aren’t here legally so they should either become legal or leave. (My thinking wasn’t quite this black and white considering I grew up in a community full of illegal immigrants whom I loved and cared for…) I guess I had always thought about immigration in terms of them over there not us over here. Well, it has since become personal. Working in the district office you get to know more people than you would otherwise know and I have come to find out that these people, whom we love and who are called by Jesus, well… some of them are in the United States illegally. It’s a reality within the church that I can no longer pretend isn’t there.
A few weeks ago I was at a Quickbooks training with one of our Brazilian churches and we asked the pastor (who is legal) how they came to America. And as he shared his story I was blown away. He shared how his education in Brazil was to be a lawyer but when he came to America he had to work as a carpenter. His training was as a lawyer yet he had to work in a field that he had never worked in before. As he shared his story I couldn’t help but think about what people see immigrants as. They see them as stupid and worthless. They often hold the lowest paying and most menial jobs. But the truth is that they are just as smart, they have held positions of authority and prestige in their own countries but in coming to America, to the land of opportunity they have choosen to humble themselves.
This is the flip side of the coin.
These people who surround us, who do the jobs that we don’t want to do have choosen to humble themselves for the pursuit of a better life. These people are and can be called of God. These people are anointed. These people can be here for “Such a time as this.” These people are the church. Nothing is black and white anymore, if it ever really was. And the Lord is opening my eyes to see that often the truth isn’t seen in what we see in the day to day but instead the truth is seen on the flip side of the coin. Instead of taking the world at face value we should ask if the truth is truly hidden on the flip side of the coin.
Following the Lord is often about having our thinking challenged. And it is through allowing God to bring us into this position of wrestling that new doors of understanding can be opened. We have to be willing to look for the flip side of the coin and not settle for what we have always seen and thought. I don’t have an answer. I don’t know what should be done or how to approach this. But I have realized that the flip side of the coin, the true picture is not black and white but includes a lot of beautiful colors!