Tag Archives: Refugees

Do You Hear the People Sing?

27 Jan

You know that scene in the Sound of Music where Count Von Trapp sings Edelweiss? It’s always been my favorite, but I love what he says right before he sings it.

“I shall not be seeing you again–perhaps for a very long time, I would like to sing for you now, a love song, I know you share this love, I pray that you will never let it die!”

I’ve found myself humming several songs lately as we see the new president changing the landscape of the United States and tearing apart the values of the country I love. In the past, I’ve had very little to say about politics because I read Greg Boyd’s Myth of the Christian Nation a few years ago and I firmly believe the Kingdom of Jesus stands in stark contrast to all the kingdoms of this world.

Often it didn’t seem to make a huge difference which party won, most of us figured the pendulum would swing back in the other direction in a few years, but now in one week, we have seen the handwriting on the wall for a new era and it isn’t cozy or compassionate—nor does it seem to be similar to any of the presidents we have had since I was old enough to vote.

So why have I suddenly written about politics and against the current establishment? It’s a combination of my love for my country–what it has stood for in the past and due to reading dozens of books about narcissism and sociopathic behavior. No one can diagnose a person from afar, but like Maya Angelou’s words keep echoing in my head:

“When people show you who they are–
believe them the first time.”

For starters all you have to do is watch a few interviews with the new president talking about himself. If one of your neighbors or church members talked like this, would you want to spend much time with him? Not me.

Apparently many people share my concern. The Women’s March brought out unprecedented numbers in every major city around the world. People are recognizing the threat to the environment, vulnerable refugees, women’s rights, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and the concerns that authoritarianism is on the rise and has contributed to his winning the election—possibly leading us to a fascist state.

Many people don’t want to believe this could happen in America, but it’s now a very real possibility–especially when you see how this new leader and his allies are more concerned about shutting up the media than allowing them to be the watchdog on the White House steps. And this includes Trump’s liesdon’t let people lie to you–especially not the president.

Along with concerns about the mental health of our new president, I am really puzzled why so many Christians are still supporting him. Most of my friends who voted for him are silent. If you voted for him because you thought he could make things better, that’s understandable, but when you see what he had done in his first week in office surely you are waking up a little, right?

If you still stand by him while he tears our country apart, then I will assume you are white and not in danger of being shot at a traffic stop. I will assume you are rich enough to have all the health care and resources you need. I will assume you have no interest in protecting the environment while the national parks truth-telling tweets are suspended to soothe this man’s ego. If you continue to support him, I must assume you don’t care about freedom of religion or freedom of the press and I will wonder if you are a true American.

Even Christian women from my own denomination who support equality, have put down the women and men who marched by saying, “How vulgar of them to wear “pussy” hats and call themselves “nasty women?” And yet, these terms came from our new president’s own mouth and people merely turned them around to make a statement. Just allow me remind you this represents his true character.  It seems hypocritical to have a problem with a woman speaking and standing up against the vulgarities and human rights abuses of the new president while you still support him.

In one week, the new president seems to be working to destroy our democracy as we know it and threatens many of the things we love about America—freedom of the press, freedom for our National Parks to educate about climate change, experienced national security, slamming doors on refugees who are desperately needing a home–and most of this was traded off in exchange for Christian votes to protect fetuses, in order to gain an administration which ignores the children already alive in this world who need healthcare or a country to live in because theirs was blown up.

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I’m not the first to be concerned. The lack of support from some in his own party and former presidents shows that others see it too. Whether the top state department leaders resigned or were fired is really not the issue. These people were helping to keep our country and the world safe and now they have been replaced by the alternate men and the alternate president in charge of security council–a man unsafe and alt right with racism and alternate facts. Trump’s administration is hijacking our country–why are so many so-called Christians blind and silent while this is happening?

Apparently the keepers of the doomsday clock are awake because they just moved the clock forward due to this reckless administration. What will it take to wake up many who claim to be Christians? Here’s clue: nationalism and authentic Christianity make strange bed partners.

So no, I cannot be silent and if you are awake, you shouldn’t be quiet either. Jesus taught us to focus on his kingdom, but he also taught us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven and to pray in sincerity, we must do our part to make it happen on our watch.

Like Martin Luther King Jr. said:

“Our lives begin to end the day
we become silent about things that matter.”

We must speak up. We need to support life in all forms and that includes refugees and people who don’t look like us. We need to support freedom in all forms and that especially means the freedom of religion and freedom of the press. We need to acknowledge that all people are equal. As Christ followers, we will treat others as we would like to be treated and we will do all we can to keep freedom ringing in our beloved country.

Someday our voices may be no more, so let us rise up to write our stories and tell the truth so someone who follows after us and sifts through the rubble will realize we were not all like Trump and Bannon, but more like Anne Frank, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie Ten BoomMartin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, Viktor FranklJimmy Carter and yes, even Barack Obama. No matter what party you used to be for, the United States is no longer what it used to be–that changed when Trump took the presidency. Let us join the resistance. Let us show the world that love trumps hate.

Another song comes to mind as I read the feeds on social media. It comes from one of my favorite musicals–Les Miserables. I first read the book in college and was blown away by the redemption in this story. But before the restoration, there comes the battle between the evil of control and coercion, this could be where we are heading in America. I sure hope not, but sadly we are seeing many things pointing this direction.

The women’s march, the science march, the outrage over the refugee blocking statement, the solidarity of people of all colors and backgrounds seem to be chanting the same tune. The people are singing. We will either will join them or curse them–depending on where we stand with God in our own hearts.

“Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord
We will walk behind the plough-share
We will put away the sword
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward!”*

“Remember the truth that once was spoken:
To love another person is to see the face of God.”
-Victor Hugo

Perhaps if we all took this seriously, we would see God more clearly–even now.

*Song Writers: Jean Marc Natel, Alain Albert Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer, Claude Michel Schonberg

Peace Through the Storms 2

21 Nov

In my last post, it seems some people got the impression that I support partisan politics which is NOT true. I am sorry for giving this impression because I have no political affiliations and as a Christian, I firmly believe Jesus when he said his followers did not fight in the political arena of his day because his kingdom is not of this world. And yet he also said the kingdom of God is within us. My quest is to understand how Jesus wants us to live today to bring his kingdom closer to others with his Spirit.

How this plays out in the lives of Christ’s followers today is complicated. Many of us are invested in the security of our nation and also in the traditions of the Christian church. I believe we should challenge our thinking because Jesus and his early church lived a radically different lifestyle than the lives we live today.

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Yes, I do believe countries should protect their borders. I also believe Jesus is the author of boundaries. We should and do protect our borders. I was reading in Facebook from a lawyer who has worked in immigration for years who explains how we already have a very thorough vetting process since 911. He says that it is much easier for a terrorist to get on an airplane than to pass immigration.

We have a much higher threat from young white male Americans who do mass shootings, yet we are not vetting gun owners. While this may seem political and sounds like a left wing rationale, one only needs to read the news headlines to realize this is true no matter who states it.

So no, I am not saying be careless with our borders, I am just saying let’s not let our fears keep us from helping the innocent which are mostly women and children.

I also started following on Facebook a young humanitarian physician and others who are working in Lesvos, Greece to help the boatloads of refugees as they arrive. Reading his stories has really brought this crisis home to me. These people are not terrorists any more than our neighbors. All these people (many who are children) want is a meal and dry clothes and a safe place to avoid being bombed out or shot. I have to literally ask myself “what would Jesus do?”

As for judging others who see differently, I have not judged anyone personally, but put the facts out there that God’s kingdom is different. Jesus is a radical. He gave up his life to save others and told us to take up our crosses and follow after him. This looks different to different people and I can’t determine where individuals stand in relation to God–nor was that my aim by posting the spiritual differences between fear and love. Sadly, we are in some ways repeating the history of what happened during the holocaust. Anne Frank and her family were refused immigration. A ship was turned away from Florida only to return to Europe and two thirds of the passengers went to concentration camps. These stories are repeating today.

Here are a couple books I have read that have formed my ideas:

This first one is about how fear and our ideas about God affect our minds and health. I have met Dr. Jennings and have dialogued with him on occasion.

The God Shaped Brain by Timothy Jennings

This second book seems more political, but it’s not supporting any partisan politics–as a matter of fact, I gave up politics eight years ago when I read it. Boyd suggests a radical following of Jesus. As an American who can trace my family ancestry back to Plymouth Rock and had eight great great grandfathers in the revolutionary war, I have always been proud to be an American and I still am–however I realize now that my loyalty must first be to Jesus. Jesus is political, but has no affiliation with any party—his ways are political only because following him threatens our comfortable way of life in the first world.

The Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd

As for being Spirit-filled vs fear filled, we see the natural results of this in choices played out every day. Fear kills us and others. When we choose to live with the survival of the fittest mentality we are saying “I better kill you before you kill me.” This never brings healing or peace. Jesus says He who lays down his life will find it again.

One of my heroes is Corrie Ten Boom who helped the Jews escape Nazi Germany and ended up in a concentration camp herself. Corrie’s story is not about left or right politics, but the radical lifestyle of Jesus that we are each called to live out. And none of us can tell another how to do this–it is a deeply personal decision.

What I do know is this:

“God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Tim. 1:7

“And there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18

I will admit to you that I am not without fear–it is a constant work in progress we can only achieve through God’s grace. For me to find the peace Jesus offers, is to submit radically to his compassionate Spirit and to refuse to be biased against people because of race.

I hope this explains my process to those who are concerned. And no, I have no desire to turn my blog into a political one despite the confusion over my post yesterday.

Thank you for listening,

May God bless each of you!

Cherilyn

Peace Through the Storms

20 Nov

This world is full of storms–emotional storms, health storms, financial storms, political storms and violent storms. For most people on this earth, life is a constant struggle to survive. I’ve heard someone say faith is like a boat to help us ride out the storms, but when terrible things happen, sometimes it feels like our faith has been capsized. What does it take to hang on when life is tossing us to and fro?

As I’ve been reading stories of refugees this week, my heart questions Jesus, why are you letting this happen? Of course I know Jesus has nothing to do with their suffering, but I want God to stop it already. There’s too much death and terror in this world and it seems to get worse every day. The only explanation I’ve been able to find for such evil is that we were born into a great war between God and his enemy. Because of that war and the logistics of it, all choices must be played out so that no one will ever have to run from a bomb again.

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I marvel at the compassionate doctors who are helping refugees this week. My heart has been thrilled again and again to see the beauty of their selfless love. The stories of young children who have been bombed out of their homes and lost parents and been shot at only to get on a dingy and ride out huge waves in terror. Their trauma is so bad that some scream for an hour after strangers pick them up on the shore. When they finally calm down and get fed and held and have their wounds cleaned, it is the most Christ-like thing I can imagine.

We are all refugees in this war zone, but for the moment, some of us are safer than others. I’m sad to see so many Christians who are so ruled by fear they want to shut all the doors and leave these children outside the gate for the wolves to devour them–wolves that at times have been funded by our own nation.

God’s kingdom is not one of self-preservation, but of self-sacrificing love. When politicians justify their choices to turn away innocent people and call their ideas Christian, it truly bears false witness to God’s name because Jesus loves all the little children–Jewish, Muslim, Pagan and Christian. Jesus has asked us to welcome children in his name.

So how do we survive in a world with constant shootings and bombings and attacks? How can we be helpers when they are not yet on our shores? How will we know where to be safe tomorrow? These are hard questions and we can only rely on God’s Spirit to lead us. There is really no safe place on earth except living with God’s Spirit as our guide. We have no safe course but to live by the Spirit. But Jesus longs to gather us all under his wings. He wants to protect all of us from a greater evil than this temporary death.

It is not death we should fear, but lack of love that is our greatest danger. We either get filled with God’s Spirit of Love, or other spirits–spirits of fear and hate and violence will terrorize our souls. I believe these horrible events are the result of God’s Spirit being withdrawn from the earth. The Spirit dwells in our minds and when humans and angels shut God’s love out, they are filled with fear and hate. In contrast, God’s Spirit always brings freedom and love.

Living in the Spirit of Jesus might seem like an abstract concept, but it really means to be in relationship with Jesus and live in harmony with his law of other-centered love. When we treat others as we would like to be treated, we live in the Spirit of Jesus. When we risk our lives to bring kindness to a hurting world, we are living in the Spirit of Jesus. When the power of love overcomes our need for power and we stoop to serve others, we are living out the Spirit of Jesus. To stand up for the marginalized and mistreated, is to live in the Spirit of Jesus. To risk our lives to help others, is truly living in the Spirit of Jesus.

One of my favorite stories about Jesus is when he was sleeping in the bottom of the boat, while all his fisherman friends were scared for their lives in a terrible storm. Jesus had no fear because he trusted the Father in heaven, and so he slept in peace despite the violent storm that was throwing the boat around. When someone finally woke him up Jesus calmly stepped up to the surface and held out his hand saying, “Peace be still.”

It is the Spirit of Jesus that calms all of our storms and carries us through them. The Spirit allows brave people to work in danger and sleep in peace—and it’s not just for those on the front lines, it’s for everyone who calls on God for help.

Let’s intercede for our nations and our world. Let’s pray with Jesus, “Peace be still.” And then, let’s live out that prayer with one person at a time.

If you are struggling with questions about why God allows terrible things to happen, here is a link to free audio downloads for Servant God, a book I helped to edit and write. The download is currently free.

Free Audio Download for Servant God Book 

Note: For my ACoN friends, I will have a new narcissism blog up at the beginning of the week, for now I wanted to talk about the trauma going on in the world. All of this misery comes from the ultimate abuser who is God’s enemy. I wish peace for all.