Posts tagged ‘Africa’

Persons, Nations, and Immigration

President Trump Meets With Bipartisan Group Of Senators On Immigration

What a week it has been in politics.  Immigration took center stage this past week with President Trump first holding a meeting with both Republicans and Democrats in front of the cameras, discussing everything from the DACA to a border wall to chain migration to comprehensive immigration reform.  This televised meeting, however, was quickly eclipsed by some comments the president allegedly made behind closed doors, where he expressed, supposedly in vulgar terms, dismay at accepting immigrants from places like Haiti and Africa and wondered out loud why the U.S. was not more interested in encouraging emigration from places like Norway.  The president has since denied that he made the disparaging remarks attributed to him, tweeting:

The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!

– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018

Whatever the president’s actual remarks were, his alleged remarks, predictably, ignited a firestorm of a debate over how we should view other countries and the peoples from those countries.  Some found the president’s alleged remarks to be simply a realistic diagnosis of the awful living conditions that plague third-world countries.  Others decried his remarks as racist.  Is there any way forward?

The famed poet Dorothy Sayers once wrote:

What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.  A certain amount of classification is, of course, necessary for practical purposes … What is unreasonable is to assume that all one’s tastes and preferences have to be conditioned by the class to which one belongs.[1]

In the midst of a white-hot debate over immigration, Sayers’ insight is a good one for us to keep in mind.  The problem with making or defending disparaging remarks concerning whole countries with regard to immigration is that whole countries do not immigrate.  Individual persons do.  And individuals ought to be treated as unique, precious, and worthy of our consideration and compassion.

But, as Sayers also notes, this does not mean that we should dismiss any and every classification.  For instance, the Scriptures themselves use the classifications of “image” and “child.”  “Image” is a classification that applies to creation.  Every person, Scripture says, is created in God’s image.  “Child” is a classification that applies specifically to redemption.  When one believes in Christ, they are adopted as God’s child.  And though these two classifications are certainly not comprehensive, they can be instructive in that they remind us that the classifications we use, first, should be generous.  Disparaging classifications are generally not helpful or productive.

Scripture cautions us against both an arrogant individualism and a dismissive collectivism.  It is important for us to remember that we are not solely individuals who have only ourselves to thank for who we are.  We are who we are due in large part to our cultural backgrounds, our experiences with others, and the help we receive from others, among many other factors.  All of these things collectively shape us.  At the same time, we are still individuals, specially and preciously created and redeemed, one at a time, by God, and we are always more than the sum total of our cultural backgrounds, our experiences with others, and the help we receive from others.  This is why, in Christ, we come to realize that so many of the classifications we once used to define ourselves, and that others use to define us, are not ultimate or unabridged.  As the apostle Paul writes:

In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  (Galatians 3:26-28)

In the middle of a debate over what does and does not constitute appropriate classifications for nations, let us never forget who we are as persons.  And, by God’s grace, let us treat each other accordingly.

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[1] Dorothy L. Sayers, Are Women Human? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 24-25.

January 15, 2018 at 5:15 am 1 comment

Ghana Eye Clinic – Day 1

Our first day in Accra, Ghana at the eye clinic was terrific!  We saw 315 people who needed vision care and gave out 217 pairs of glasses.  We also had an optometrist onsite to see people who had a whole host of eye care needs.  Most importantly, we shared the gospel with everyone who came through our clinic.  Through the glasses, we helped people see God’s world.  With the gospel, we helped people see God’s Son!

Check out these pictures from our first day.

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The morning was beautiful!

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Pastor Bill shares the gospel with people as they first come to the clinic.

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The kids from the day school at St. Paul Lutheran in Accra sing us a song.

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One of our sweet kids receives a sweet from Julie!

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Many people came to receive glasses and hear the gospel!

Two great Concordians, Michael and Arnold, are stylin' in the glasses we're sharing with the folks of Accra.

Two great Concordians, Michael and Arnold, are stylin’ in the glasses we’re sharing with the folks of Accra.


I’ll be posting more pictures soon, so keep checking back. Please continue to pray for our team!

November 18, 2013 at 4:16 pm 3 comments

Sightseeing in Ghana

Ghana FlagI’m not in San Antonio anymore, that’s for sure.  Instead, I am halfway across the world in Ghana, Africa with a team of my fellow Concordians and, together, we are hosting an eye clinic.  There are many people in this region of Ghana in desperate need of glasses.  We have the special privilege and pleasure of providing people here with the glasses they need in order to see.  In the process, we also get to point people to the One in whom they can see God Himself – Jesus Christ – by sharing the gospel.

As I’ve been working as a part of this vision clinic, I’ve been pondering one of my favorite stories in Scripture:

As [Jesus] went along, He saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:1-3)

In the ancient world – and especially among the ancient Jews – it was generally presumed that if you faced a trial, a trouble, or an ailment, it was because you had committed some heinous sin to deserve that trial, trouble, or ailment.  Your sin and your trouble were intimately and inexorably interwoven in ancient thinking.  For instance, Rabbi Ammi wrote, “There is no death without sin, and there is no suffering without iniquity.”  If you were suffering, the rabbis taught, it was because you had done something wrong.  In fact, some rabbis taught that not only could a person be punished for his own sin, but a child could be punished for his parents’ sin.  Some rabbis believed, for example, that the untimely death of a child was the direct result of his mother’s dalliance in idolatry while he was still in the womb!   Such was the close correlation between sin and tragedy.

Thus, it is really no surprise that, one day, as Jesus and His disciples are walking around and see a man born blind, the disciples ask:  “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind” (John 9:2)?  Jesus’ disciples know the teaching of their Jewish rabbis well.  They know a man cannot be born blind unless there is some sin to warrant such blindness.

But what the rabbis assumed about the connection between sin and trouble isn’t what a rabbi named Jesus knows about this blind man’s plight.  This is why, instead of pointing to a specific sin committed by this man which had resulted in his blindness, Jesus explains to His disciples:  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3).  This suffering is not the result of this sin or that sin.  Rather, God is up to something in this suffering:  He is using it to display His work.

The Greek word for “display” is phaneroo, from the word phos meaning, “light.”  God, it seems, desires to bring this man darkened by blindness into the light of seeing.  But God’s desire centers not only on the light of physical seeing, but on the light of spiritual seeing as well.  In other words, Jesus, through His eventual healing of this man born blind, desires to bring this man not only into the light of the sun, but into the light of faith.  And this is exactly what happens in the end:  “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Jesus asks. “Lord, I believe,” the man responds (John 9:35, 38).  When this man confesses his faith in Christ, he is brought into the light not only physically through the recovering of his sight, but spiritually through his trust in Christ.

All this week in Ghana, our goal is to help people see in two ways – spiritually and physically.  I covet your prayers that eyes would be opened – not only by the glasses we share, but by the truth of the Gospel we proclaim!

November 18, 2013 at 5:15 am 1 comment


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