Building the Wall, Government Shutdown, and Messy Grace

“When I stand before God at the end of my life and He says, ‘you’ve offered too much love and given too much grace,’ I will turn to Him and say, ‘I’m guilty as charged.’” Pastor Bill Bellmore 

My first mentor in ministry offered me this sage advice. Grace upon grace. I realize how great this advice actually is when I come to fully understand the depth of my own need for grace upon grace. I’ve gotten a lot of things wrong even when I had the right intentions. My motives have been pure, my logic was sound, and yet I still somehow missed the boat. The one thing I absolutely refuse to mess up is this grace thing!!! A fundamental aspect of being a follower of Jesus is to love people the way God loves them. 

Presently, grace presents a challenge for us because it seems we are moving farther and farther away from grace as a society. We are becoming more territorial and intolerant of people and ideas that are different than the ones we assume to be true. Marriages are failing at a rate that is at an all-time high. We prioritize “being right” over “being in a relationship.” Psychology Today journalist Mark D. White Ph.D. says, “Your relationships should serve you, not the other way around.” Herein lies the problem. This way of thinking is what is guiding our nation and the way we relate to other people on a daily basis. 

A microcosm of this thinking can be found in our current debate over our southern border. Most of us could agree that America needs a secure border. We do not want people coming into our country that might have ill intentions. The idea people disagree about is whether a wall is going to accomplish this task. The same logic may be applied here that is often times used in gun control conversations. Criminals don’t obey the law. They will always find a way around, up, and over any barrier we decide to put in their path. 

The only real people who will be kept out of America by a wall are those who, out of desperation, are seeking a better future for their family. Many of these people have been victims of corrupt governments, forced labor, and a sheer lack of opportunities to meet their daily needs. Many fit our own government’s requirements for asylum-seekers. 

From the information I was able to gather, there are only three official points of entry where immigrants can apply for asylum in America. These points of entry process 100 applications per day. After the application is submitted, it will take 45 days to get a face to face interview. After the face to face interview, it can take up to 180 days for the application to be decided upon. So the process to can take seven and a half months.  People line up 1500 deep attempting to be one of the 100 processed applications. After the migrant caravan arrived, it flooded an already overcrowded situation; and at this point it has caused a true humanitarian crisis. 

So my idea for a compromise is this: build the wall, but in doing so add six more legal points of entry for asylum seekers. Doing this would triple our capacity to process applications and streamline the process, so people are not languishing away as they wait to apply. If people don’t meet our standards for asylum seekers, they should be sent back to their countries of origin. 

About 700 employees of the US Census Bureau in Jeffersonville, IN have been placed on furloughed status. On Monday, January 21, I joined a group of care providers in an outreach to them. Our role was to help people affected by the government shut-down connect with resources in the community that may be able to offer them assistance. The problem is that for a variety of reasons there are not many resources available to them. I met one lady who has received her husband’s COBRA bill for insurance that was about $1200. I met another lady who was going to have to decide between her rent and her insulin for the month of February. I met many who have utility bills that they are unable to pay, and no entity exists that will pay them. Many don’t yet qualify for assistance because they are not at least three months behind or because they own property. I could see the desperation on their faces as I spoke with them. 

In those moments, I thought how ironic it was that America is trying to solve the desperate plight of immigrants by causing a desperate situation among our own people. As Americans, we can do better than this. As Christians, we can definitely do better to reflect Jesus Christ to the world! Offering grace to others may be messy but it is always the right course of action!

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