On the front page of both Monday and Tuesday’s newspaper was a photo of the migrant caravan showing an estimated 7,000 people making their way from Honduras to the United States. The travelers believe safety is found traveling in numbers and daily prayers asking God for protection will be answered.
The Bible gives clear instructions on how we as Christians are to respond.
“You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” is God’s directive in Deuteronomy (10:19). That command is repeated in Leviticus (19:34), “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself.”
Matthew records these instructive words of Jesus (25:35), “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” In the book of Hebrews we read, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (13:2).
The Bible is truth, it must true in our behavior and our response to the cry of the 7000 strangers mostly from Honduras, arriving at our southern border. The Bible commands a welcome from us.
We also need to find the answer to the question asked by a television news reporter waiting for immigrants to cross the border in the U.S. illegally. He asked, “Why did you come?”
Joseph Nevins answers the question with a brief history of the region. “The walk from Honduras began in the late 1890s when American companies built railroads, established banking systems and bribed government officials turning Honduras into a one-crop economy. The country’s wealth was taken to New Orleans and New York. From 1907 to 1911 the U.S. military intervened in Honduras to protect U.S. economic interests. Honduras became dependent upon support from Washington. By 1914 U.S. banana interests owned almost one million acres of Honduras’ best land and by the 1920s historian Walter LaFeber writes, “Honduran peasants had no hope of access to their nation’s good soil.” By the mid-sixties, Honduras was run by its military supported by the US.
“During the Reagan years, U.S. soldiers were stationed in Honduras training ‘contra’ rebels in an effort to overthrow the neighboring Nicaraguan Sandinista government. The Honduran economy was restructured, making it amenable to global capital interests, disrupting traditional forms of agriculture, and setting the stage for a marked increase in emigration to the US in the 1990s.
“A reformer, Manuel Zelaya was elected president in 2006 but was overthrown by a military coup in June 2009. The Obama administration decried Zelaya’s ouster but equivocated on whether or not it constituted a coup and worked to ensure Zelaya did not return to power contrary to the wishes of the Organization of American States. Since the coup, historian Dana Frank writes, “A series of corrupt administrations has unleashed open criminal control of Honduras, from top to bottom of the government. Organized crime, drug traffickers and the country’s police heavily overlap. Impunity reigns in a country with frequent politically-motivated killings.” (Read the full article on the Conversation: http://theconversation.com/how-us-policy-in-honduras-set-the-stage-for-todays-mass-migration-65935)
Back to the question asked by the reporter, “Why did you come?” The travelers joining the migrant caravan are desperate and are fleeing crime and poverty that has made life virtually impossible in Honduras. For over 100 years the U.S. played a part in the poverty, instability and violence that now drives people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras towards Mexico and the United States.
The election season assures the travelers much coverage. The only question left for us as Christians is this: How can we graciously welcome the strangers knocking at our southern door. After all, we may be “entertaining angels without knowing it.”