This morning I had the privilege of watching MSNBC Host, Joy Reid, interview four panelists on her show, AM Joy. One of the panelists was Sam Nunberg, a former Trump Campaign Advisor to which she asked how supporters of President Trump, “…who claim to be…the guardians of Christianity”, could support the elimination of the deferred action program? The program she is referencing is the ‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals also known as DACA which is an immigration policy that allows some children, who were brought into the country unlawfully, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation1. One of those children is Maria Isabel Bueso, a24-year-old Guatemalan, who came to the U.S. at the age of 7 to receive treatment for a rare, disfiguring genetic disease. Last week Ms. Bueso received a letter from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service notifying her that she would be deported within 33 days. That deportation would mean that she would no longer receive the lifesaving medical treatment that she needs2.
His response was not surprising at all. In sum, he said that the thinking is that in specific instances, they (the Republicans and/or supporters of President Trump) would think that it was terrible but there becomes a disconnect which would cause them to think that Joy Reid just doesn’t care about the border. This is what he, Sam Nunberg, who at the time represented approximately 23,298,000 Christians3,4, thinks ‘the guardians of Christianity’ believe. The thing about it is that there was no mention of Jesus or what the Bible actually says about the issue which led her to sum up the Christian stance in one sentence - “They would just dismiss it.” And you know what? She’s right!
Dismissing the Cruelty of Immigration
Most of the President’s supporters are Christians. The unfortunate part is that if you were to ask them to locate the scriptures for their stance on immigration, many could not. That’s because they themselves are ignorant of what the Bible actually says about immigration or immigrants receiving medical treatment because believe it or not, the Bible has a lot to say about both. The disheartening thing, is as a sister-in-the Lord this hurts because as guardians of Christianity, they should know that over 90% of South American immigrants are either Christian or Catholic while less than 5% are Muslim5 which means those who should be defending our brothers and sisters-in-the-Lord are their harshest opponents. Which brings me to the question: What does the Bible actually say about immigrants receiving medical treatment?
One instance can be found in Matthew 15:21-28. Verses 21,22 says, ‘…Jesus went…to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” Before we move on, it’s interesting to note that Canaan, was the son of Noah, who was considered cursed. Without going into a lot of detail, he and his descendants were to be ‘servant of servants’ (Gen. 9:20-25) One interpretation of that today would be low-paying migrant workers. Fast forward several generations and Jesus comes across a descendant of Canaan. A Syro-Phoenician woman, who much like Mexican immigrants, was not held in high-esteem. She then says to Jesus, “…Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” The surprising thing is that Jesus doesn’t respond. Instead His disciples tell Him to, ‘Send her away for she cries out after us.’ But doesn’t their response sound a lot like what we’re seeing with Ms. Bueso? Doesn’t it sound a lot like certain members of Congress who proclaim, ‘send her away for she cries after…lifesaving medical treatment and citizenship? And going back to Mrs. Reid point, a little dismissive?
Though they did, they misread the entire situation. They mistook the Lord’s unresponsiveness to mean that He supported withholding medical treatment. But as a believer, you have to wonder why would they think that Jesus wouldn’t want to heal this woman’s daughter? Because prior to meeting Jesus, she probably worshipped the sun, the moon, the planets, and the elements which would technically make her an unbeliever. And every Christian knows that 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15 says, ‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?’ I mean certainly, this woman was an unbeliever – just like those Mexican immigrants. Right?
Not true, because again, over 90% of South American immigrants are either Christian or Catholic which would make them believers, and more importantly, brothers and sisters in Christ. But that doesn’t change the fact that when this unbeliever asked for the Lord’s help, He said nothing, or did He? Because when the Lord finally responds, He says, ‘I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ To some, this could sound a lot like religious exclusion and could even come across as racist. By telling this mother He could only help the house of Israel could today imply that He could only help Jews and/or Christians which in this instance would mean that Mexican immigrants were excluded. But that’s not the case at all. When Jesus said, ‘I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’, He was simply letting this woman know that He knew who she was.
You see, this woman was not a Jew, she was a Syro-Phoenician, yet she called Jesus, ‘Son of David’. Son of David was a Jewish term that only Jews would know. Somehow, she’d overheard the Jews using the term and was therefore pretending to be one. Jesus knew this which is why He told her who He was sent to because again, He knew she wasn’t a Jew. And much like the immigrants who illegally entered the country, she too tried to gain unlawful access to Jesus to receive the assistance she needed. But the Lord required the truth, which is why if you read the full account, you’ll discover that once she set aside her deceptiveness, not only did she receive healing (or medical assistance) for her daughter, but she went on to become known has one of two people Jesus Christ said had ‘great faith.’
Why do I bring this up? Because some would argue that nothing good can come out of a pathway to citizenship. Yet this former unbeliever, went on to become a great woman of faith. Which today would mean she no longer was a low-paying, unbelieving, migrant worker seeking medical assistance but quite possibly became an upstanding Christian citizen who helped her people do great things as well. But I know some will argue that Jesus called her a little dog and made her beg for assistance, but that’s not the case at all. He called her a little dog for three reasons. First, her people were known as servants which explains the Lord’s use of the word little. Secondly, the word dog refers to the Canaanite lifestyle. And thirdly, He knew that this was how she saw herself. She, along with the disciples (i.e. certain members of Congress) didn’t think she was eligible to receive the Lord’s help. She thought her race disqualified her for healing, but as we just witnessed, it did not. And neither should it disqualify immigrants seeking medical relief.
Everybody that Believes in Jesus Qualifies for Healing
All throughout scripture, God uses healing as a way to draw unbelievers to Him. He doesn’t withhold treatment because they don’t believe. In fact, we see this today with ministers of the gospel like Marilyn Hickey. Mrs. Hickey, an 88-year-old televangelist has unlimited access into Muslim nations, and regularly meets with grand imams. In an interview with 60 Minutes®, while on a visit to Pakistan, she’s quoted as saying that she ‘brings the message of healing because healing is the bread of the children.’ She said, ‘…it doesn’t matter what they are. Hindus, Atheists, Muslims, whatever, people need healing, and Jesus heals6.’
Muslims believe that Jesus was a major prophet with healing power7. Because they believe He has healing power, Jesus will heal them, even though they don’t believe that He is the Son of God. That might surprise some Christians, but it’s true. God will always meet people at the point of their faith and if an unbeliever, like the Syro-Phoenician woman, has faith enough to believe that He could heal her daughter, that is exactly what they’ll receive. And like Mrs. Hickey said in her interview, as Christians, our job is to give the truth. And the truth of the matter is that even unbelievers qualify for medical assistance. The pathway to citizenship is another issue. But going back to our question, how could supporters of President Trump, “…who claim to be…the guardians of Christianity”, support the elimination of medical relief for immigrants? The answer to that question is that they shouldn’t because as we just learned, Jesus wouldn’t.
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1 – Wikipedia contributors. "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 Aug. 2019. Web. 31 Aug. 2019.
2 - Jordan, Miriam, and Caitlin Dickerson. “Sick Migrants Undergoing Lifesaving Care Can Now Be Deported.” The New York Times, 29 Aug. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/08/29/us/immigrant-medical-treatment-deferred-action.html. Accessed 31 Aug. 2019.
4 - https://www.census.gov/popclock/
5 - Wikipedia contributors. "Religion in South America." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 29 Aug. 2019. Web. 31 Aug. 2019.
6,7 - “Muslims Love Me.” CBS News, 7 Aug. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEOI