Dear Refugee, (Documented and Undocumented) Immigrant, Muslim & African-American:
This is a letter to tell you you are loved. I love you and many others do as well. Recently some have spewed hate in your direction. They’ve scrawled it on bathroom walls, spray-painted it on dugouts and have told you to go back to “where you came from.”
These people do not represent all of us and they do not represent me.
Notably, these people do not represent Jesus or his Church.
With this recent election, there have been some tragic dots connected by many: there is a renewed outburst of racial hate speech (that you have had to endure)… which people feel free to do because Trump is the President-elect… because Trump gathered many of his followers based on racist caricatures and fear mongering… and Trump won the election because of Evangelical Christians (polls say 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump)… so this hate speech is now a reflection of Jesus and his Church.
And I know it’s not just the hate speech, but also some potential policies that might be barrelling toward some of you, and the fear and anxiety you currently have to live with of these policies.
While I know it doesn’t feel this way and this probably doesn’t help, most of those 80% of white evangelicals that voted for Trump don’t hate you. For better or worse, the majority of these white evangelicals cast their vote the way they did because of Trump’s pro-life stance and because there will be empty Supreme Court seats where these voters want to see pro-life justices.
I’m trying hard to not cause further divide in writing this letter. I know there is a sentiment among minorities that all of these voters hate minorities and I think it’s important to point out that that isn’t true. Many felt trapped in a bad political system that makes you pick one of two sides, voting for 100% of what a party stands for when there are moral / ethical issues on each side. It’s equally important to point out that this 80% of white evangelicals who voted for Trump (speaking of being pro-life) have a lot out of the womb lives to account for now that Trump is in office. Namely, the recipients of this letter. Those of you who face deportation (which will ravage your family), or registration acts, or all the racist connotations to “Build that Wall!” or the stereotypes painted about you in the campaign. Trump voters who don’t care about this stuff need to care, especially if they are Christians. I am reminded of Romans 3:3-4,
What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar.
Please know that any Christian who doesn’t care about racism, oppression and what life in America is like for you does not reflect God’s heart for you. God is still faithful in spite of his followers’ unfaithfulness.
You are my friends, brothers, and sisters. I’m reminded of Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). If it were updated into contemporary characters, it would go something like this:
On one occasion a white evangelical stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?”
The white evangelical answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But the white evangelical wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A white evangelical was going down from the White House to the United States Supreme Court Building, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A white Donald Trump campaign chairman happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the white evangelical, he passed by on the other side. So too, a white Republican megachurch pastor, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Muslim, as he traveled, came where the white evangelical was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out around $200 and gave it to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The white evangelical replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Instead of “Muslim,” you could substitute “undocumented Mexican immigrant” and have the same effect, or a number of other ethnic groups I’m writing this letter to.
The point is, Jesus boils the whole Bible down to loving your neighbor. Then he goes on to specifically tell us who that neighbor is we are to love and to what extent we are to show love to them. Christians can now choose if they want to obey Jesus or not.
I am choosing to obey him.
But whether I or other Christians choose to obey Jesus does not change Jesus’s heart of love for you dear immigrant, refugee, Muslim and African-American. And in one way or another, He will judge those who feel otherwise about you.
For those of who you are undocumented immigrants or whose country of origin is Mexico or in Central America, I want to confess the lack of knowledge most of my white evangelical brothers and sisters have about your situation. If possible, I’d ask that you not rush to judgment on them/us. Most of us have been born and raised in white suburban bubbles where we were given very incomplete educations. A fish doesn’t know that it is wet. This does not excuse it, but I hope it explains it. I myself simply did not know what I did not know until just a few months ago when I read Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate by Jenny Yang and Matthew Soerens and interviewed Matthew on my podcast:
There is so much I learned about how the 11 million undocumented immigrants are key cogs to our economy, doing jobs business owners can’t find anyone else to do (jobs that give the rest of America cheap products and more jobs). But also tragically how many of you are abused financially and physically by these bosses, but you can’t do anything about it since you’re undocumented (similar to slavery itself). And how you came here to save you and your children’s lives, something any caring person would do, yet are judged by so many as criminals. And unlike my Polish grandparents who came here in the 1950’s, there is no legal system in place for you to become documented. I pray to God that you are not deported. And I pray that a legal way for you to become documented becomes available, lest our country continue to stand as hypocrites every time we say the phrase, “with liberty and justice for all.” My heart breaks for you and I am so sorry for the way you have been treated.
If any Christian reading this disagrees with me, one needs to look no further than Jesus saying “Love your neighbor” in Luke 10, as already spelled out. But if one wants to look further, the Bible offers plenty more:
Leviticus 19:33-34 “ ‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
Psalm 9:9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Matthew 25:34-35 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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
A biblical and human rights issue that is at the heart of God has been made into a political issue. Sadly, some white evangelicals feel they must oppose immigration reform because a political party tells them to without knowing or caring what the Bible says or what your actual situation is.
My hope and prayer is that more of my white evangelicals would seek to become learners when it comes to immigrants, rather than just reacting to what politicians say. Please know that as a follower of Jesus and his Bible, I will do everything I can to help with this.
I’m not the president and I know the things I say in this letter have little weight to your situation. But I do hope one voice of love among the many of hate you are hearing right now brings some encouragement. For what it is worth:
You are loved here
You are so welcome here
You are friends and family
You make America beautiful
You are what makes America great.
A white Christian American.
- Ep. 69: Pastor Jack and Becky Sytsema on being in a mixed orientation marriage and how the Church should treat LGBTQ+ people - August 8, 2022
- Ep. 68: Thoughts on Hillsong Exposed, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, & Willow Creek - July 19, 2022
- The Flip Side Ep. 67: Jack Sytsema shares about being a gay / same sex attracted pastor in a mixed orientation marriage - June 25, 2022