Sunday, January 21, 2018

     "Therefore of each creature we can say, 'This also is Thou: neither is this Thou.' " -C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

#GreaterAs1: Why We Should Allow Syrian Refugees into the U.S.

**This paper was written as a research paper for my college English composition class. Everything written is of my own writing and that I have, to the best of my ability, credited ideas and quotes to the authors who deserve it.**
**Submitted 30 January, 2017.**

                     #GreaterAs1: Why We Should Welcome Syrian Refugees into the U.S. 

Shortly before World War II in 1939, the SS St. Louis arrived at Cuba carrying a ship full of Jewish, mostly German refugees seeking sanctuary (“Americans Thought”).  After being turned away by Cuba, they were immediately also rejected by the United States and Canada.  They had no choice but to return to Europe. Returning in June of that year, they were relocated throughout Great Britain, Belgium, France, and Holland. Following the German invasion of western Europe in May of 1940, just under half of these Jewish refugees died in the Holocaust –eighty-four in Belgium, one in Great Britain, eighty-four in Holland, and eighty-six in France (“Voyage St. Louis”).
The reasons why these people facing such great danger were turned away must be addressed. Americans had various fears regarding European Jews, particularly Jews from Germany. Some believed they could have been spies; others were fearful of certain philosophies they may bring to their country –communism, anarchism, and that of fifth column (Tharoor “Yes, Comparison”). A poll was even conducted by The American Institute of Public Opinion on the eve of World War II regarding a proposal to accept 10,000 German refugee children, mostly Jewish, into American homes: 30% were in favor, 61% were against, and 9% had no opinion (Tharoor “What Americans Thought”). While the circumstances may not have shown prejudice against Jews in particular, it still speaks loudly about how the Americans felt about refugees, even children.
It could be said that the United States is re-living history. Journalist Ishaan Tharoor suggests that “today’s 3-year-old Syrian orphan, it seems, is 1939’s German Jewish Child” (“What Americans Thought”). While it is not a direct comparison, seeing as Jews were considered a “racial enemy…in German society”, he claims that there are still alarming similarities that Americans cannot ignore. Quoting the book Refugees in an Age of Genocide, he shares that “of all of the groups in the 20th century… refugees from Nazism are now widely and popularly perceived as ‘genuine,’ but at the time… [Eastern European] Jews were treated with ambivalence and outright hostility as well as sympathy” (qtd. in “What Americans Thought”). The doubts about German Jews echo down through those about Syrian refugees –threats of spies or ideologies that are perceived “un-American” (“Yes, Comparison”). The parallels must be lessons. The voice of the slaughtered begs the world not to repeat history. In order to discern what must be done for these refugees, therefore, it is necessary to understand their situation, the positive effects on our country, and the risks they may pose. Taking these issues into consideration, America should still allow Syrian refugees to be settled here, in the name of humanity. If we turn their “ships” away, the effects will be fatal.
The first issue to address is why Syrians are in need of asylum. The civil war in Syria has been going on for more than five years, and more than a quarter million people have died (“What’s Happening”). It began in 2011, with peaceful protests by locals when fifteen school children were arrested and tortured for writing graffiti against the government. Soon, however, these peaceful protests turned violent when the government began responding with open fire. It is now being fought between the supporters of the president Bashar al-Assad and the rebel fighters who do not want him to be in power (“What’s Happening”). Those against him include the original protesters as well as others belonging to political parties in opposition to him.
What complicates things further, however, is that in 2014 the IS (Islamic State) moved into eastern Syria and there gained power and land. The Islamic State is known for their brutality and jihads, violent acts against enemies of Islam (“What is Islamic State?”). The combination of these two situations has caused approximately 4.8 million Syrians to flee to neighboring countries: 2.8 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, 1 million in Lebanon, 650,000 in Jordan and 230,000 in Iraq (“Syrian Regional”). One million refugees have requested asylum in Europe, the majority being relocated to Germany and Sweden. This, however, still leaves 6.6 million internally displaced Syrians inside of Syria (“Syrian Refugee Crisis”). Those who remain in the country believe traveling to other countries to be just as dangerous, but this requires many to move to find safer places to live inside their country. Most children who remain in Syria cannot even attend school because buildings have been destroyed and there are no teachers available (“Happening in Syria”). Whether they have fled or are internally displaced, all Syrians have lost family, friends, and homes.  
The conflict in Syria is not likely to end soon. If that is the case, what countries can do for them demands to be considered. This is where the American refugee resettlement programs take their role. A refugee, according to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), is defined as follows:
Under the United States law, a refugee is someone who:
·         Is located outside of the United States
·         Is of special humanitarian concern to the United States
·         Demonstrates that they were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group [and does not include those who participated in the persecution of people for these reasons].
·         Is not firmly resettled in another country
·         Is admissible to the United States (“Refugees”)
The United States, then, has prioritized the safety of refugees to some degree, because of the important effects on the refugees as well as the American nation itself. Nowrasteh from the Washington Post voices many Americans’ opinions, arguing on the behalf of refugees, that they “want safety, not handouts.” This is one main concern of the American people, that refugees will take our jobs (Edwards). Jeffrey Sachs, economist and director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, offers in a PBS interview that although statistics would show that refugees have been “net…positive” economically, there are still some complications (Solman). One is that their addition to the workforce may decrease wages. The second is that problems may occur if they do not have to pay as much in taxes but have access to social services. These are both possible economic problems (Solman).
However, refugees have been known in many cases to help the American economy. Sachs himself also admits that many refugees are educated and do contribute to the workforce (Solman). Nowrasteh would add that if they are skilled in certain areas but lack English, they can push lower-skilled Americans into positions that require better English communication; they also create more jobs by being consumers. Refugees do not have to receive welfare, as many refugee resettlement programs are funded privately (Edwards).
Olivia Edwards, volunteer coordinator at Church World Service in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, argues this further. She explains how no-interest loans are given to refugees by the U.S. government; these loans will be paid back by the refugee. She also shares how a study of Lancaster County by New American Economy demonstrates that “the role immigrants play in the workforce [in] helping companies keep jobs on U.S. soil… The immigrants living in Lancaster in 2014 helped create or preserve 1,062 local manufacturing jobs that would have vanished or moved elsewhere” (qtd. by Edwards). They also contribute to taxes and boosted housing value. This is the case in many other parts of the United States as well.
Such is the economic side of it. However, considering further the issue of allowing refugees into America, it is clear there is a much deeper purpose. Sachs stresses to PBS the importance of maintaining “a holistic view” of the situation (Solman). He explains that it is not just a matter of what is better or worse for the United States economically, but that it is necessary to consider what it means for the refugee and his “home” country. Although not all countries agree on an exact procedure for accepting refugees, “the only agreement internationally is that when people are fleeing persecution, fleeing for their lives, there is a human right for them to escape, and there is a responsibility for countries to not send them back into danger,” Sachs says. This also means not ignoring them because they are not wanted in “our country” (Solman).
Business Insider shares a testimony about one of the 10,000 Syrian refugees welcomed to America in 2016. “As soon as I saw the flag, I felt safe,” Ammar Kawkab shared (qtd. in Zablit). He went on to explain, however, that he began to fear American responses who believe Syrian refugees may be a threat. He begs, “…we are not here to be a burden on America. We want to give back to this country.” Such is the case with most refugees. They would simply ask for the chance to live and make a life for themselves (qtd. in Zablit).
From his more liberal perspective, Nowrasteh would argue against doubts, explaining how “our immigration restrictions are making a humanitarian catastrophe even worse by preventing them from saving their own lives. Let’s…let them [the refugees] do that while empowering those among us to voluntarily lend a helping hand.” (“Syrians Help Americans”). The bottom line is that with or without the economic benefits refugees may bring, the greater result of allowing them into our countries is helping individuals to have the opportunity to live. In doing so, Americans can stand hand-in-hand with these people who are also victims and show that the United States will not live in fear of terrorism. Instead of scattering individuals in fear, terrorism unites the world even more strongly in courage and love. America must be united in giving these individuals the opportunity to help themselves.
The greater concern for Americans, however, is that of security. This fear is that the U.S. vetting system is not extensive enough and that terrorists will slip in as refugees. Ben Carson, retired surgeon, author, and Republican nominee for President in the 2016 election, shares his view with Time. He believes Americans see “Islamic extremism through the lens of political correctness,” and although he understands not all Muslims are extremists, it is necessary to not allow terrorists to enter the American nation undercover. He is certain that terrorists will disguise themselves as refugees and that it is foolish to bring those refugees here. Coming from a more conservative view, he considers the Paris attacks as a warning to not welcome more refugees but rather defend our nation more strongly.
Republican Vern Buchanan (Republican, Florida) wrote President Obama along these lines as well, insisting for him to “…immediately stop accepting Syrian refugees as a matter of national security…We are seeing a clear pattern in which a number of recent attacks have been carried out by ISIS terrorists with ties to Syria, including [three bombing/murder situations in Germany in France]…Syrian refugees played a part, either as attackers or accomplices, in all three attacks…Terrorists are leaving Syria disguised as refugees and carrying out attacks in the West. The prudent course of action is to halt all admissions of Syrian refugees into the U.S. until the safety of Americans can be guaranteed” (“Syrian Refugees Surge”).
It is undeniable that terrorism is a legitimate threat and that many Americans view refugees as a possible route for the terrorists to enter the United States. However, Edwards also address this. She believes that many of Americans’ fears and doubts are intensified by their lack of knowledge about the vetting system nor having ever met an actual refugee. The vetting system, as she explains, is actually very extensive. It includes twelve steps, each step including a background check (criminal history, medical background, etc.). Each step also has an expiration date. This means that it takes a minimum of two years for a refugee to be accepted into the United States. However, it often takes much longer for families because of the expiration dates. She gives the following example: if a child happens to fall ill, hindering the family from continuing the vetting process at that moment, one of the steps may expire. As they return to redo that step, other steps may expire in the process. This shows the vetting system is actually extremely cumbersome, especially for families. However, it is because of this in-depth system that since 9/11, not one terrorist attack inside the United States can be attributed to a refugee (Edwards).
Therefore, considering the extensive vetting process the United States implements, the economic benefits, and the dire help these people need, only one conclusion can be drawn. Syrian refugees must be allowed to find sanctuary in America. Terrorism attempts to strike fear. Fear paralyzes. However, love and courage mobilize. It is through them that we are united and learn to put others’ needs above our desires. In the face of terrorism, with all discernment and wisdom, we must open our doors to allow these souls to live.
In the heat of the political issue, Edwards urges Americans to consider one final application. She states that “the idea of who a refugee is is… dehumanized. Most people have not met a refugee, so it becomes an issue, or point of conversation, or a political view. But in the process, what’s lost is people’s humanity. These are people who are suffering, and if I were in their place, I would pray to God someone would open their home and say: you are welcome here; you are safe here.” We must see these individuals as humans, and we must welcome them with open arms.


                                                            Works Cited
Carson, Dr. Ben. "Ben Carson: the U.S. Must Not Accept Any Syrian Refugees." Time. Time Inc., 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
Edwars, Olivia. Personal Interview. 12 January 2017.
Kaye, Dalia Dassa. "Syrian Refugees: a Blessing in Disguise?" The National Interest. The National Interest, 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.
Nowrasteh, Alex. "Syrian Refugees Could Help America. We Should Welcome Them." Washington Post. Washington Post, 9 July 2015. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.
"Refugees." USCIS. USCIS, 25 May 2016. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.

Solman, Paul. "What's the Economic Impact of Refugees in America?" PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. PBS, 7 Apr. 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.
"The Syrian Refugee Crisis and Its Repercussions for the EU." Syrian Refugees. Syrian Refugees, Sept. 2016. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.
"Syrian Refugees Surge into US; Obama on Track to Hit Target Amid Security Concerns." Fox News. Fox News Network, LLC, 5 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Jan. 2017.
"Syrian Regional Refugee Response." UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency. UNHCR, 19 Jan. 2017. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.
Tharoor, Ishaan. "What Americans Thought of Jewish Refugees on the Eve of World War II." Washington Post. Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.
Tharoor, Ishaan. "Yes, the Comparison Between Jewish and Syrian Refugees Does Matter." Washington Post. Washington Post, 19 Nov. 2015. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.
Victor, Daniel. "Comparing Jewish Refugees of the 1930s with Syrians Today." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 19 Nov. 2015. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.
"Voyage of the St. Louis." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.
"What Is 'Islamic State'?" BBC. BBC, 2 Dec. 2015. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.
"What's Happening in Syria?". BBC. BBC, 14 Dec. 2016. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.

Zablit, Jocelyne. "Syrian Refugees Saw the Stars and Stripes - and 'Felt Safe'." Business Insider. Business Insider Inc., 3 Sept. 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Unheard Genocide of the Voiceless

     We don't want to face it. We don't want to see images of murdered, undeveloped babies on our Facebook scroll. We want to see selfies of that acquaintance we may or may not know, hiking a mountain in some foreign country.
     But the truth is, we do know. We can ignore it, we could not take the 10 minutes to hear the heartbreaking story of a former procurement technician who sliced an infant's head open while his heart was still beating. We can ignore it. Even those of us who say we are  pro-life... we can still ignore the gross reality of what is happening in this country.
     Maybe it's true for some, that people really don't understand what or to the extent of what is going on. Maybe they don't know when they think life begins, and what really counts as a "baby." Or maybe they don't want to know. Maybe they don't want to think about it. If you were to search "aborted child" on Google images, the photos you would see would be enough to make you squirm, if not cry or throw up.
      But you know what? I think we do know. I think it is our responsibility to make sure the world understands the atrocity and reality of what is actually going on. That these ARE lives.


But if all we do is know and make known... what does that even accomplish?

     You find this everywhere. I don't care what religion, race, age, or political side you are on. You see something in the world/country that you don't like, and you're going to talk it down. Sometimes it's just to vent, sometimes it's to inform... but regardless, all you're doing is talking. Talking can be informative, but that's usually all it is. If you're really passionate about something, if you see something NEEDS to change, it's time to start DOING.
     It's not enough to just say, "Abortion is bad," or "I'm pro-life." Because this is not just an issue of, "Yeah, that probably shouldn't be happening," or "In a perfect world that wouldn't happen."
     NO! This are people's lives at steak! This is a genocide that is happening right inside of our country, and thousands of other countries around the world, this is not just a matter of talk!
     So if this is really something you deem important (and I pray it is), then it's time to start practically challenging yourself: What can I do? Maybe voting for a pro-life president won't change anything or maybe it will. But dig deeper. What can you do, more than just signing a petition, attending a protest, or sharing a link on Facebook. Seek out a local crisis pregnancy center, and donate or better yet, volunteer there. Help babysit a single mother or struggling family's child or children. Employ someone. Adopt a child, or if it's all you can do, foster. Go to another country, spend a significant amount of time in an orphanage (although this may not have a lasting effect on the orphans, let me tell you from personal experience, it changes your outlook!). Help counsel a family or couple. Find a job that invests in people. Serve lower-income families.

     Not all of us can do some of the things mentioned above, and definitely one individual can't do ALL of the things above. But in the words of Edward Everett Hale:

Find something. Have knowledge, then go DO.
But what even are actions?

     My dear family in Christ. Have you ever asked yourself what kind of image people who are pro-life have with those who aren't? Have you ever wondered what they think we really stand for?
     I was taken back when I heard the response statement of the director of Planned Parenthood, after those videos of the interview were made public. She is so against people who are pro-life. My first question was:
    "Why? ...Does she think that we, who are for pro-life, hate women?" Although I cannot one-hundred percent answer this question... I think this should cause us to take a look on how we appear as pro-life supporters.
     I don't hate women. On the contrary, I am one (go, women!). In fact, I am 100% for people!
(Ironically, roughly 50% of these murdered human beings were probably women.) So this is not a matter at all of my being sexist (against my own sex?) or whatever other argument one of pro-choice may have (although I admit I don't quite understand what they think of us.)
    However, I am "for people," meaning I am for ALL people. I believe in life. And yes, I realize it is harder to care about someone who is considering killing than to care for the one being killed. But they're all people. And it's true, many of them are coming from hard situations.
      So while we love the babies, we have to check ourselves to see if we're loving the parents as well. That's a hard reality in itself. These are people, who have hard decisions to make. The last image we want as someone supporting pro-life is that we hate families/parents. We should love families! That's what we're fighting FOR!
      As Paul in 1 Corinthians states:

1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
      8Love never fails.

Everything in love, my friend. 


I AM PRO-LIFE. 100% Life.
     The issue of abortion is an incredibly important one. One that should be recognized, and fought boldly. We must not just sit back silently while those without voices go unheard.
     But in the end, what I and my Christian brother next to me must realize is that the root of the problem is not abortion.

     It is life, and it is choice.

     The life and the choice offered by JESUS CHRIST, the Son of the holy, living God. We will never have victory in fighting this sinful world if we are merely fighting morality. Murder, adultery, lying, rape, stealing, addiction, sexual immorality, gluttony, pride... these are not the root issues.
     The root of the issue is that Christ has offered us LIFE, 
                                                       and He has offered it to us by CHOICE. 
     It is not our position to take away someone else's life, but the choice we are faced with is if we are going to accept the life offered to US.

      So please. Fight abortion. Fight it with all that you've got. Fight it with knowledge, action, and love. But more than that: fight death. And fight it with Life.
 We do not preach and live a gospel of morality.
                            We preach and live a Gospel of life given by grace. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015


      Is the world nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites who walk around blaming everyone around them for being hypocrites?

What a vicious circle.

What a need for grace: to receive and to give.


Friday, October 24, 2014

La Selva, La Sierra, y La Costa

¡¡¡Vamos a Peru!!!

   This December, I will be spending that first month of my summer in Peru!
I will be going on a mission trip from December 1st-22nd, and then will spend Christmas and the New Year [December 23-January 3rd] at my roommate's house :)

Because letters are difficult to send here, I am asking for prayer support through this blog post.

Our mission trip will involve primarily working with children and youth; we are still in the process of confirming which churches and places we will be working with. We will be spending a few days in the jungle, the sierra, and will end on the coast [which is where I will be staying with my roommate.]

A few specific prayer requests as we anticipate our trip:

-My Spaaaaanish. I can understand quite a bit, and can speak enough to make light conversation, but I am not nearly where I want to be. Please pray for me as I work diligently to learn as much as I can over this next month, and most importantly as I learn to share the gospel in what will be my third language! I know that finishing the month, I will have learned so much Spanish...but for now it's intimidating not knowing much.

-Transportation for the trip. We have not bought our tickets yet, or even completely decided how we want to get there [by plane, by bus, by both...etc.]. Also for our transportation to be nailed down for while we are there.

-The team. There are still some people that are on the fence about going, whether for personal reasons or logistical/financial. Please pray for the Bible Institute students here that are considering going; and for those that would like to, that the details would work out. 
   Also for my own logistics; that the details for me would come together.

-The mission. We don't have all our details confirmed yet about the trip. We want to be effective and loving in all that we plan to do while we are there. So please pray for our hearts, as well as open doors. And flexibility, which is always key.

This is all for now; I will hopefully write more as I know more! 

Thank you! <3 
With love,