Thursday, October 13, 2016

Justice Devotional - Taking Faith Seriously

Devotion to Justice
A series of devotions from the Justice table on the topics of
  • Women and children
  • Hunger and poverty
  • Creation care
  • Immigration

Taking Faith Seriously

On World Refugee Day this year, I was at the courthouse supporting a man from my church as he became a U.S. Citizen. His people, the indigenous Bunong people — also among the handful of tribes known as Montagnard — are refugees for many reasons. There is racism, there is the political lashing out against those who fought alongside the Americans during the Vietnam War, there is the Christian faith that now defines life for so many Montagnard people, and there is the inconvenience of these hill tribes of indigenous people living for generations on mineral rich soil that can be harvested and exploited for profit if only all these people would disappear.

Most refugees have left their homeland for a few of these reasons. Montagnards are in the unique position of being refugees for ALL the reasons persons might become refugees. The one that has hurt the deepest, they tell me, is that they are hunted for their faith. When their churches burned down, they have gathered for worship in homes; when they were told that celebrating Christmas would be a punishable offense, they have gathered for Christmas anyway and endured the resulting beatings and torture; when they were told that public gatherings like baptisms would get them fined and arrested, they have baptized in rivers under cover of darkness. These are a people who take their faith seriously. I am awed by what they have lived through for their faith in Jesus.

The man who now pledged allegiance to the flag had passed through the waters, through the fires, through the floods. Now he decided to put his lot in with the country that had become his home. As it turns out, wherever he has gone, he has carried Jesus with him. In this land or that one, living in a traditional Bunong village, or in a suburban Charlotte home, he and others like him have carried hope in Christ like a light to show them the way.

I marvel that, on the Sundays when it's too rainy to go out and people stay home from church; on the Sundays when it is too lovely to be inside and people opt to do something other than church; on the holidays when all the extra family and celebrations crowd out church; Montagnards in Vietnam and persecuted people around the world are risking their lives to gather together, to worship, to share a little of the light they have found that will, one day, lead them to their true home.

Rev. Jolin Wilks McElroy: Pastor First Christian Church, Charlotte,
NC Immigration and Refugees Read more!