As I think about my hometown Lincoln, there is the Lincoln that I see and the Lincoln that my friends at church see. My church is on the east side of the city in an affluent neighborhood. My friends there mostly see people in their neighborhoods and in their workplaces. Don’t get me wrong. They are good people who love others with the love of Jesus well. They have done wonderful things for refugees here.
The Lincoln that I see is a very diverse city. When I go to some supermarkets in the middle of the city or in the north of the city, it is like being in an international airport. As I walk around, I like to listen for different languages and greet people in their language to give them a pleasant surprise.
The Lincoln I see is a city that has refugees from all over the world. The Lincoln I see is a city that has immigrants from all over the world. Sometimes I feel like I have failed at communicating the Lincoln I see to my friends.
There are connections like the one my friends Lorri and Scott at church have made with a refugee family from Iraq. It is a family that had very few friends even in their own community as evidence by when I helped this family move in December 2017, NO ONE was there to help them. Lorri and Scott have loved this family and done wonderful things for them including having them out to their home and taking their children Back to School shopping.
My home church has also done wonderful things for a group of refugees from Sudan. We also let a refugee family from Ukraine hold a wedding ceremony at our church for free. Many times I have used the church pick up to help families move. My home church has also helped refugee families with benevolence needs.
The Lincoln I see has people who have been victims of ISIS in Iraq, people who left Ukraine several years ago because of religious persecution, people from Bosnia who escaped the genocide of the 1990s, people from Burma who fled the dictatorship that sought to kill them, people from Vietnam who fled after the fall of Saigon, people from Congo who fled the violence there, and people from Sudan who fled the killing of Christians there. The list could go on and on. Our school system here has children from over 100 languages groups.
They are people looking for the faintest of hopes and looking for someone to reach out a friendly hand. They are people who have survived horrors my friends at church could never comprehend.
The Lincoln I see is a city that has opened its arms to welcome refugees. I have been so impressed by teachers in the schools. One year the Blue Angels were practicing for an airshow. When their jets flew over the school where I teach, the little children in ELL. English Language Learners, hid under their school desks scared. The sounds caused their PTSD from war to kick in. They did not have enough English for the teachers to explain what was happening.
I strongly believe that refugees are on the heart of Jesus.Why do I say that? Jesus began his earthly life as a refugee. All one has to do is read Matthew 2 in the bible:
“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod.”
Fleeing to escape because government troops that are coming to kill you is exactly what a refugee is. Joseph was told to take the baby Jesus and flee to Egypt because the king’s troops were coming to kill Jesus.
If Jesus spent his first years on earth as a refugee, do you think he cares about refugees?
For a while on Sundays, my posts will be dedicated to various groups of people who came as refugees to the Lincoln that I see.
Thank you for reading. God Bless.