God Loves Boat People

I love spring

I love spring

I’m listening to Kevin Rudd give his concession speech as I type this post. While I’m not surprised at the result I must admit I am disappointed. The entire process that proceeded this evenings results has been disappointing. As a recent returnee to this great southern land, it has been distressing to witness the apathy, the fear mongering and the blatant lies that have been served up to the Australian public. However, it has been appalling to witness how we gobbled it up.

During this election, we have been presented with policies from both the Labor and Liberal parties on how they plan to tackle the ‘problem’ of refugees who are attempting to flee from the home they love to a safe harbour.  We have watched people take their life savings to secure places on boats in the hopes that they will have a future. Not a better future. A future.

“refugees who flee to places like Australia embark on journeys that are fuelled not only by fear and desperation, but also by hope – a hope to find a country that will offer them protection from persecution, a hope for a safe life for themselves and for their children.”

– Gillian Triggs http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/1583278/blog-restoring-hope-for-refugees/?cs=12

A refugee is someone who is forced to flee.  To escape their present circumstances. 90 percent of those claiming refugee status in Australia are found to be refugees. A third of these after appeal (a process that will now be taken away from refugees under our new government).

Tony Abbott is a christian. Kevin Rudd is also a christian. As am I. It is not news to hear that Christians often disagree with one another and more often than not we use the Bible to support our version of the argument that we are currently having. However, you would think that this would be an issue we would agree upon.

Jesus is quite clear in his words. (Matt 25:34-36):

34 “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. 35 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, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“I was a stranger and you let me in.” There is no ambiguity in this statement.

If you’re struggling, imagine Jesus, fleeing his homeland in fear for his life. Not a difficult task as the Bible describes such a scenario for us. Jesus’s parents fled to Egypt when he was a child, to escape Herod, out of fears for his safety. (Matt 2:13-15).

Imagine Jesus sitting on a boat that is bobbing on the seas between Indonesia and Australia. Imagine him sitting in a detention centre in the Australian outback, living in a caravan. It’s 40 degrees celsius in the sun. It is nearly as hot under shelter.

Imagine him being denied refugee status and sent back to his homeland. The land that, out of desperation, he left his family, sold his possessions and embarked on a perilous journey with no certainty of his welcome.

How about this one. In Luke 6:31, Jesus tells us to do unto others as we would have them do to us. We’ve all heard this stated and probably pass it on to our children regardless of our believes. The Message version of the Bible phrases it a little differently:

31-34 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

Place yourself in the shoes of another. Think about how dire life would need to be for you to leave your spouse and your children. To flee under the cover of darkness, knowing that if you are caught, your freedom or your life is at risk. To put your life and your savings into the hands of strangers in the hopes that they will keep their word and deliver you safely to a land of hope. How would you wish others to treat you if your circumstances were so desperate?

How selfish is any response that is not one of welcome! How selfish that we do not wish to share what we have! How selfish to push the problem onto another nation! To another group of people who are not nearly as privileged as we are.

Australians have voted today to elect a government whose leader stood on a platform proclaiming that his government would stop the boats. He has no policy to help the people on the boats.

I am no statistician however I guesstimate that at least 90% of Australians voted for either the Liberal or Labor party. Both of whom had policies that focused on stopping the boats rather than helping the people on the boats. We allowed fear and self interest to swamp all other feelings on this issue. One electorate voted in the candidate, Fiona Scott, who blamed the traffic congestion and hospital queues on refugees.

We, in the lucky country, should be ashamed of ourselves. We should stop calling ourselves Christians and think about behaving like Christ.

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