Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Albert Reyes on Immigration

I received an email this morning from Albert Reyes, President of Buckner Children and Family Services in Dallas. Albert was president for many years of the Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio, where he led the institution to take some significant strides in equipping primarily Hispanic students for cross-cultural ministry. I've been able to keep in touch with Albert somewhat through our serving together on the board of WorldconneX.

Albert's email alerted me to a new journal issue on the topic of immigration that was recently published by the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University. Albert has an article included in the journal that describes a bit of his own spiritual and ethnic heritage as well as addressing the issue of the Christian's responsibility toward the stranger in our midst.

I wanted to share a couple of quotes to perhaps whet your appetite to read the entire article.

"Jesus spoke to the experience of the stranger in his parable of the Judgment
of the Nations in Matthew 25:31-46. When the Son of Man judges the nations,
separating “people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from
the goats,” the criteria for whether a person’s identity in Christ can be authenticated is whether or not that person has demonstrated the agenda of Jesus with regard to the poor, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner. These criteria are strikingly similar to the five-point agenda in Jesus’ inaugural speech in Luke 4:16-30. Jesus said he came to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and release for the oppressed, and to announce the year of the Lord’s favor. I like to call this the Jesus Agenda, Jesus’ plan for his thousand-day ministry."

"What does it mean for redemptive history that the Lord of history has allowed us to have over fourteen million undocumented immigrants, primarily from Latin American countries, inside our borders? Think with me from a Kingdom perspective for a moment. Let me remind you of a picture and a vision that we will all see. When John the Revelator glimpsed eternity he saw “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne…. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9-10). Will it matter on that day if people had legal documents authorizing them to be in our country? I guess it depends on who you ask. If you ask the Master who separates goats from sheep, I think he will say what mattered, in light of eternity, is whether or not we gave food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, ministry to the prisoner, and caring to the sick. He will say, if you did it to the least of these, you did it unto me."


Albert Reyes said...

Gary, thanks for your affirmation. So good to hear from you. A google alert sent me to your site. Great blog. Thanks for your passion and commitment to do Kingdom work. Let's stay in touch.

Gary Snowden said...


Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you next month in Dallas at the board meeting of WorldconneX.

RonSpross said...

Here are two paragraphs from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' book “The Letter in the Scroll” (page 104):

"It is often said that the greatest moral principle of the Bible is, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' [Lev. 19:17] I used to believe so myself. But I have found that there is a yet greater principle: 'You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of the stranger – you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt.' [Ex. 23:9] Or again: 'When a stranger lives with you in your land, do not ill-treat him. The stranger who lives with you shall be treated like the native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.' [Lev. 19:33-34] It the century of the Holocaust these commands echo with unrequited force.

"It is easy to love our neighbor. It is difficult to love the stranger. That is why the Torah commands us only once to love our neighbor, but on thirty-six occasions commands us to love the stranger. A neighbor is one we love because he is like us. A stranger is one we are taught to love precisely because he is not like us. That is the Torah’s repeated and most powerful command. I believe it to be the greatest religious truth articulated in the past four thousand years. Throughout history, Jews were the archetypical strangers. Abraham says to the Hittites, 'I am a stranger and a sojourner among you.' [Gen. 23:4] The Israelites were 'strangers' in Egypt. Moses said, on the birth of his first son, 'I am a stranger in a strange land.' [Ex. 18:3] They were strangers to teach that God loves the stranger. They were different, yet God set on them His love, to teach the dignity of difference."