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Published on 15 February, 2017

Behind the rhetoric: an opportunity for growth

International (MNN) — If all you knew about recent discussions of immigration and refugee resettlement came off your social media feed, you’d be under the impression that there was a lot of hysterical rhetoric going on.

(Learning image courtesy Freepic.com)

(Learning and rhetoric image courtesy of Freepic.com)

Some people are merely reacting to headlines, while others are looking for credible sources of information and trying to fact check.  What doesn’t seem to be happening is much listening.  From an educator’s perspective, Tent Schools International’s Dale Dieleman asked this question: “How can we help communities and individuals look over the issues, and also come to some conclusions on their own, without necessarily being influenced by political parties, friends, family or whatever, but looking at it logically from an educational perspective?”

Education, he says, is really about the examination of the facts.  Study the facts from a variety of sources, he suggests.  Compare notes.  Read articles from opposing points of view.  Check the historical facts.  Find people off which to bounce ideas.  Analyze.

“Begin to enter into some healthy dialogue.  Be actively listening — in other words, feed back to them, ‘I hear you saying this, is this what you really mean?  Could you please explain this further to me?’, rather than these short ‘sound bite’ kinds of things that we hear and we repeat, and repeat, and repeat.”  This communication model looks a lot like the Imago dialogue 101 used for conflict resolution between married couples.

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Conflict often arises from underlying emotional discontentment felt.  It is expressed through criticism, anger, and dissatisfaction.  By listening carefully to an opposing viewpoint and asking questions, says Dieleman, “We can learn about each others’ points of view; we have an opportunity to voice our views on this subject.”  Essentially, after forming a hypothesis and doing research, “…test your views and your conclusions, because a lot of information changes…and then finally, keep a critical ear open for what might challenge your current views.”

Why this particular discussion from Tent Schools?  Displaced people groups exist on every continent around the globe, and half of displaced people are children.  Tent Schools International comes alongside Christian leaders in refugee camps and other transitional areas to establish effective schools for displaced children.

As such, they’ve been following the decisions of the Trump Administration and the explosion of reaction closely.  It’s an understatement to say the issues of refugee resettlement and immigration are hot button topics on which everyone seems to have an opinion.

“There are marches in the street about it.  There are communications coming from the White House about it, all over the capitals of various countries that are hosting or sending refugees — and the people caught in the middle are the refugees,” he says.

Somewhere along the way, in the bitterness of exchanges, the Body of Christ seems to have lost track of the goal.  “We really need to keep our focus on that through the eyes of Jesus.”

(Photo courtesy Tent Schools International)

(Photo courtesy of Tent Schools International)

Dieleman recognizes the dilemma of those who are torn between the issues of national security, terrorism, and the plight of the displaced.  “We have empathy for that.  We’re human beings.  As Christians, we also look through the eyes of Jesus and have compassion.  It’s understandable that our blood pressure goes up real fast when we hear opposing views.  But we have to step back and look at how then are we going to proceed in a compassionate way?”

He suggests one way to do that is to be grounded in the truth in Scripture, and ask, “What would God have us to do?”  Citing Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Noting that humility is not one of the more common elements of this issue, Dieleman offers a concluding thought:  “This is my interpretation of this, my understanding, as we look at immigration and refugee issues: the Christian Church needs to stand up and be a beacon of hope, a light unto the world, in terms of how to treat people.  How would God want us to treat people?”

One response to “Behind the rhetoric: an opportunity for growth”

  1. Dean W says:

    Interesting to note the context before Micah 6:8. Micah 6:8 is the LORD’s rebuke to the hard hearts of His people that cynically imply you cannot please the LORD even if they offered child sacrifice.

    “With what shall I come to the Lord
    And bow myself before the God on high?
    Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,
    With yearling calves?
    “Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams,
    In ten thousand rivers of oil?
    Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts,
    The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

    While oft quoted by “social justice Christians” lets not forget that it is a tacit rebuke of those who would justify the continued shedding of innocent blood through abortion as well. Often these agendas of abortion and open borders are wrapped together.

    Consider that the open borders policy the USA has allowed has shaped a culture of human trafficking, as people are lured to our country with promises of free government aid. Thinking they can come to our country without proper legal permission, they are vulnerable to exploitation by drug lords, etc, who sell them or their children into sexual slavery.

    Discernment is needed. Be Issachar men who can discern the times.

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