Neighbors

Brenda just got back from court today. She had been there to help a young woman obtain legal residency status, and it was exhausting.

Actually, it was the end of a long, long road that started when the woman, whose name is Aracely, was arrested for driving a car without a license. She didn’t have a license because she wasn’t in the country legally. Aracely’s mother works for Brenda’s sister, who asked Brenda to help out.

Aracely entered the country before her second birthday, when her mother sneaked over the US-Mexico border with her in tow. Being born in Mexico, she was of course not a US citizen, and spent the next twenty years of her life under the radar. It wasn’t until she was stopped for a traffic violation that things turned sour.

Brenda did a lot of legwork, found a lawyer, navigated the bureaucracy of the INS, counseled and supported Aracely, and in the end succeeded. Why did she do it? Not because Aracely was a pillar in the community. No, she worked an hourly job with a false Social Security number. Not because Aracely had the highest moral standards; at 21 years old, Aracely is the single mother of a 6-year-old girl.

Brenda tells me she did it because it’s the kind of work God does. She pointed to a passage in the Old Testament, which says this: “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” God’s command to the children of Israel starts with “do not do him wrong”. That’s easy enough, I suppose. However, God then commands us to love the alien as much as we love ourselves, and that’s where it gets tougher.

There’s a lot of political talk about how we should treat the illegal aliens among us. Much of that talk has been done by folks who claim to follow Jesus. Maybe these folks could start checking out what the Bible says about how we should treat these very aliens. It’s a good read.

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