What Gaza Could Be But for Hamas

Exactly what is Hamas’ vision for Gaza? Is it the same as the vision of the Palestinian people who call Gaza home?

Here’s an observation rarely noted in all the back-and-forth about the Hamas-Israel conflict: as (part of) the land of the Palestinians, Gaza abounds with potential for development.

If only the goal of Hamas were the building of a prosperous nation rather than the elimination of Israel.

The potential for development in Gaza is immense

While Gaza is a small belt of land, its potential is immense. Of course Gaza is one part of the larger Palestinian homeland. But let’s contrast the state of development in the Gaza strip with the development of another small nation, one with fewer natural resources than Gaza.

Many people argue that one of Gaza’s major problems is population density: her 1,428,757 people share 147 square miles of land. That’s 9,719 people per square mile.

But another small country with  twice the population density and none of the natural resources is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Singapore’s 4,492,150 people are crowded onto 241 square miles of Pacific island, a population density of 18,645 people per square mile. Singapore has the second highest population density in the world!

There’s more: 50 years ago Singapore was one of the poorest countries in Asia. You could think of Singapore then as the Gaza of Asia. Yet today it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. (For more of the Singapore story, go here.)

Gaza’s economic potential is tremendous. Her people are capable. They have shown great ingenuity. Gaza has reserves of both oil and natural gas, while Singapore has virtually no natural resources. Yet Singapore’s per capita GDP in 2013 was $55,182 (ahead of both the USA at $53,143 and Israel at $36,161). In Gaza, the current annual per capita GDP is $1,600.

When Israel pulled out of the Gaza strip in 2005, it left the people of Gaza with agricultural and other infrastructure. International aid and good will from around the world began to pour in.

Gaza has wonderful Mediterranean coastline

“Sea view from Al Deira hotel, Gaza” by Marius Arnesen

This largesse left Hamas with a decision to make. They could lead in building a new nation or work to destroy another nation. The entrepreneurial Palestinians could have taken the infrastructure left by the Israelis … plus their oil and natural gas … plus their farm land … plus their beautiful Mediterranean coast and built a thriving Palestine. Consider, for example, the potential tourism.

Tragically, Hamas chose instead to apply its foreign aid to the furtherance of its charter: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.” In the process, it destroyed the infrastructure left by the Israelis. It diverted the international aid intended for development to preparing for war with Israel. Cement and reinforcing steel meant to build houses and hospitals was used instead to build tunnels to invade Israel. It is estimated that the 32 tunnels discovered so far cost about $2 M each. That is $64 M not used to help the Palestinian people. Monies that could be used to build infrastructure and provide capital for business was diverted to build or buy 10,000 missiles.

Our hearts ache for the Palestinians in Gaza

Our hearts should ache for the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Their suffering is beyond imagination. But they suffer because their leaders are more concerned with destroying Israel than with building their nation. They are more interested in building tunnels to invade Israel than meeting the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people.

Dennis Ross, counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote:

At some point, Hamas will stop firing rockets — if for no other reason than its arsenal is depleted. For the people of Gaza, however, the price has been staggering. But Hamas’s leaders have never been concerned about that. For them, Palestinians’ pain and suffering are tools to exploit, not conditions to end.

While the Palestinians have suffered greatly in this latest war, they played a consenting role. They elected Hamas leaders, and they tolerated Hamas villainies. Palestinians had to see what was happening all around them. Many must have known that hospitals, schools, and mosques were being used as storage depots for missiles and mortars, as command centers for the military wing of Hamas, and as tunnel entrances for the invasion of Israel. The people’s silence may imply support for the Hamas tactics. Or perhaps they fear what Hamas might do to them if they protested.

The people of Gaza have a choice: they can live free and create a beautiful and thriving nation on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, or they can follow Hamas and live in fear, poverty, and slavery. Freedom for the Palestinian people must begin in their hearts before it is established in their circumstances.

-          Darrow Miller

NOTE: We rarely solicit funds at Darrow Miller and Friends. However, if you have been moved by the plight of ethnic cleansing among Christians and Yezidis in Northern Iraq, and want a way to help, here are a couple of worthy avenues. My friends, Dr. George Grant and Dave Dillard, have been working in northern Iraq for some 15 years and have contacts with the church in Kurdistan. If you would like to help, see the links below. These will provide you, or your church, a way to get resources to those who are suffering. Please pass this information on to your friends. And please pray.

George Grant’s Fund for Kurdistan

Dave Dillard’s (founder of Servant Group International) Fund

 

 

  
Posted in Current events, Freedom, Islam | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

ISRAEL and the Return of Anti-Semitism

The historic Jewish homeland has been variously called Canaan, Israel, Judea and Samaria, and Palestine. The Jews trace their history there to 2085 BC when Abraham followed “the Voice” into the promised land of Canaan. God promises that this would be the land of Abraham’s descendants “forever.” About 1406 BC, after a 430-year exile in Egypt, Moses led the Hebrew people back to the Promised Land. Punctuated by periods of exile, the land of Judah and Samaria has been the home of the Jews, en masse and in remnant, for about 3,500 years.

During the first half of the twentieth century, under the British Mandate agreement, Muslims, Jews, and Christian Arabs lived side by side in relative peace. In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into two states, Israel and Palestine. This move changed everything in the modern era. It led to the first Israeli-Arab war which was lost by the combined army of five Arab states. Two of those states—Egypt and Jordan—have since made peace with Israel. Three have not. In addition to these national enemies, the Jewish people live under the threat of Islamists–militant Muslims–who are committed to the destruction of the state of Israel.

Israel and the Arab WorldThe modern home of the Jews is very small, 290 miles long, 35-85 miles wide. Its 8,019 square miles are roughly the size of the state of New Jersey. Israel is dwarfed by the Arab/Muslim world around it, 640 times its size.

Israel’s population of 8 million is composed of 6.1 million Jews, 1.3 million Muslim Arabs and about 300,000 Christians and people of other faiths. The Jewish state is religiously pluralistic, in contrast to the ethnic cleansing now underway in Muslim nations, countries which have also included Jews, Christians and people of other faiths. If Israel were inclined toward ethnic purity, 25 percent of her people would not be  Muslim. Imagine Saudi Arabia allowing even one synagogue in their country, much less a quarter of her population Yahweh worshippers! The Jewish people of Israel live in an Arab-Muslim neighborhood of 260 million people.

Israel is the only nation in the world marked for extinction

Here’s the reality in a sentence: The world has 50 Muslim[1] states and one Jewish state, and that one Jewish state is the only country in the world targeted for extinction.

The Jewish people were hated long before the founding of Israel. In fact, hatred of the Jews has played a major part in their history and identity. In the Middle Ages, Christians were anti-Semitic, holding the Jews responsible for killing Christ. Some people still function from this mentality today.

Muslims have considered the Jews enemies since 622 AD when the prophet Mohammad moved to Medina. While still in Mecca, Mohammad had sought to persuade Christians and Jews to follow him. Failing that, he moved to Medina and began to convert through the sword.

In Russia, anti-Semitism blossomed during the pogroms of 1881-1884 and again in 1903–1906. The greatest wave of anti-Semitism occurred in Europe under the guise of the fascism of Hitler and the German Third Reich. The German Holocaust led to the extermination of 6,000,000 Jews, roughly the same number of Jews in Israel today.

As mentioned in an earlier post, the Muslim Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin el-Husseini, allied with the Axis powers during World War II to participate in the final “solution”: the utter annihilation of Jews worldwide. The Germans failed; the Islamists (not all Muslims) want to finish the job.

Today we are seeing a growing animus against Jews in the US and Europe. It is as if the fever of anti-Semitism that grew in Europe prior to World War II is now growing in the West again.

The ancient hatred of the Jews is being rekindled by a number of forces. First is what might be called the European Intifada sparked by various Islamist groups in support of Hamas in Gaza and the advancing ISIS in Syria and Iraq; second, the fear by Europeans of their growing Muslim minorities; third, the same kind of deep-seated animosity of some Europeans against Jews that led to the first Holocaust.

In France, the verbal and physical violence against Jews is forcing Jews to flee to Israel in fear of their lives as anti-Semitism grows. Where is the outcry from European citizens? They should be raising their voices against the anti-Semitism and on behalf of the humanity of the Jews. Has the world learned nothing from the Holocaust?

But it is not just Europe: protests and even violent demonstrations are happening in the US as well. As George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

There’s no nice war. War is hell! Those in the West who have been so critical of Israel as they responded to 3,000+ rocket attacks … what would they have Israel do? Is Israel to simply wait for the next barrage of rockets and hope for the best? Are the Israelis expected to simply surrender – become dhimma, and pay the jizya tax? Are they to abandon their ancient homeland? When the adversary gives them the choice of surrendering to Allah, fleeing or dying, how are they supposed to respond?

Some of the rhetoric stoking the anti-Semitism violence is coming from the entertainment industry. Dozens of Spanish film stars and singers signed an open letter to the European Union calling Israel’s bombing in Gaza “genocide” and challenging the EU to “condemn the bombing by land, sea and air against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip.” Academy Award winner Jon Voight penned a letter to some of his Hollywood peers who, either knowingly or in ignorance, have fueled the fires of anti-Semitism. At the beginning of his letter, published in the Hollywood Reporter, Voight laments: “I am more than angry, I am heartsick that people like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem could incite anti-Semitism all over the world and are oblivious to the damage they have caused.” The four-time Academy Award nominee goes on to challenges his colleagues.

You have been able to become famous and have all your monetary gains because you are in a democratic country: America. Do you think you would have been able to accomplish this in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, et cetera? You had a great responsibility to use your celebrity for good. Instead, you have defamed the only democratic country of goodwill in the Middle East: Israel.

Voight concludes his letter with a sobering question:

I am asking all my peers who signed that poison letter against Israel to examine their motives. Can you take back the fire of anti-Semitism that is raging all over the world now?

While clearly the growing worldwide fire of anti-Semitism has multiple causes, Hollywood celebrities can use their influence either to fan the flames or cool the rhetoric of anti-Semitism. That is the heart of Voight’s concern.

Why is there so much animus against Israel?

Another pubic figure who recently weighed in on this matter is Thomas Sowell, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. In his witty, sarcastic yet brilliant style, Sowell reflects on the war between Hamas and Israel by raising the question, “Is Thinking Obsolete?”

Some have said that we are living in a post-industrial era, while others have said that we are living in a post-racial era. But growing evidence suggests that we are living in a post-thinking era.

Many people in Europe and the Western Hemisphere are staging angry protests against Israel’s military action in Gaza. One of the talking points against Israel is that far more Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli military attacks than the number of Israeli civilians killed by the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel that started this latest military conflict.

Are these protesters aware that vastly more German civilians were killed by American bombers attacking Nazi Germany during World War II than American civilians killed in the United States by Hitler’s forces?

Has any other country, in any other war, been expected to keep the enemy’s civilian casualties no higher than its own civilian casualties? The idea that Israel should do so did not originate among the masses but among the educated intelligentsia.

In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity.

Why is there so much animus against Israel? As we have already said, the history of the Jewish people is one of exile, dispersion, and persecution. Suffering is the underlying theme of the story of the Jews. Many factors explain the hostility against them.

Adolph Hitler identified the ultimate target of his hatred: Yahweh himself.

The God of the deserts, that crazed, stupid, vengeful, Asiatic despot, with the power to make laws! … that poison with which both Jews and Christians have spoiled and soiled the free, wonderful instincts of man… .

Hitler’s is the hatred of many secularists. If God exists there is a moral universe. Men who want to “be as god” are challenged by the God of the Jews.

Through much of history the hatred has come from misguided Christians who regarded the Jewish people as Christ killers. A 2013 study by the Anti-Defamation League found that 26% of Americans believe that “the Jews killed Jesus.”

Another reason, no doubt, is envy of Jewish prosperity. God promised Abraham that his children would be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:2-3). Subsequently, Jewish people have been successful in many fields: business, banking, motion pictures, education, medicine, and science. While Jews represent just 0.3- 0.5 percent of the world’s population, they have received 18 percent of all Nobel prizes (130 out of 720 since 1901). Israel has more engineers and scientists per capita than any other country in the world. The nation grants 2,500 patents a year. In 2013, Israelis registered 1,917 patents in the USA. This is comparable to the number produced by Italy, with 10 times the population, and far in excess of the number from neighboring countries: Saudi Arabia (58 patents) Turkey (45) Egypt (20) Kuwait (14) UAE (9) Iran (8) Lebanon (5) Jordan (1) and Syria (0).

Behind this contribution is the Judeo-Christian worldview which comports with reality as God has made it. Could it be that a society’s worldview really does matter? Could the success of the Jewish people spring from the biblical worldview in which their history and very existence is steeped, and the virtues derived from it?

And perhaps those cultures where such a worldview is absent reflects, as Thomas Sowell suggests, human ignorance – “artificial stupidity.”

Whatever the reasons, the Jews have been a despised people who have been scattered and threatened with extinction.

-          Darrow Miller

[1] Muslim as opposed to Arab

NOTE: We rarely solicit funds at Darrow Miller and Friends. However, if you have been moved by the plight of ethnic cleansing among Christians and Yezidis in Northern Iraq, and want a way to help, here are a couple of worthy avenues. My friends, Dr. George Grant and Dave Dillard, have been working in northern Iraq for some 15 years and have contacts with the church in Kurdistan. If you would like to help, see the links below. These will provide you, or your church, a way to get resources to those who are suffering. Please pass this information on to your friends. And please pray.

George Grant’s Fund for Kurdistan

Dave Dillard’s (founder of Servant Group International) Fund

 

 

 

  
Posted in Current events, Freedom, Islam, Worldview | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Hamas and Israel: Is There a Moral Equivalence?

In the modern world cultural relativism is the thriving standard. Cultural relativism holds that no nation better than any other. No culture is superior to any other. This leads to the concept of moral equivalency between competing systems, nations, and cultures. In their embrace of moral equivalency, modern Western relativists argue against any moral distinction between rivals. All are equally valid: the Allies vs. the Axis powers in World War II, the USA  and its European allies vs. the USSR and the rest of the Communist bloc; the West and Islam; Israel and Hamas.

Relativists seem unable to recognize the difference between civilized and uncivilized behavior. They would perhaps agree that the jihadist beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl, for example, was barbaric. But from a platform of moral and cultural relativism it is impossible to judge the culture that produces such behavior.

Moral relativists argue for a moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel

In fact, it is impossible, from such a perspective, to recognize that such behavior is in fact the product of a culture.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal . Photo by Trango – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons

Moral relativists argue, either forcefully or tacitly, that a moral equivalency exists between Hamas and other jihadist groups on the one hand, and Israel on the other. They are wrong. In at least six dimensions. Note the absence of moral equivalence in,

  1. The political realm: Israel practices democracy while Hamas exercises a ruling tyranny.
  2. Defense strategy: Israel uses missiles to defend her people, Hamas uses Palestinian people to defend their missiles. The Israel Defense Forces places soldiers between civilians and Hamas fighters; Hamas fighters put civilians between themselves and Israeli soldiers. A Hamas urban warfare manual describes how to use people as human shields to protect their missiles and fighters.
  3. Military operations: Hamas places weapons, missile and mortar launchers, and tunnel entrances in schools, hospitals, mosques, homes, and UN facilities. They do so to draw Israeli counterattacks toward innocent people and exploit the results as propaganda. Israel puts its military sites away from civilian populations.
  4. The religious realm: Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims are expelled from Arab lands. Israel, a Jewish state, welcomes Muslims, Jews, Christians, Atheists, and Druses as full citizens with freedom to practice their religious convictions.
  5. The cultural realm: One culture celebrates life, the other, death. Osama bin Laden and other jihadists famously brag, “These [jihadist] youths love death as you love life.” Islamists are terrorists in nature and tactics. They use beheading, raping and stoning of women, and wanton execution of civilian populations to achieve their goals. Before the Israelis destroy buildings where Hamas has located military equipment they warn civilians to get away. After such attacks Israeli medical personnel treat enemy combatants. To see the reality of this Jihadist evil simply do a Google search of images: “beheading” or “ISIS ethnic cleansing.” Or see this ISIS propaganda video. [WARNING: BE PREPARED FOR GRAPHIC DEPICTIONS OF VIOLENCE.]

These images reveal the incarnation of evil in the acts of man. They are reminiscent of the images from Hitler’s death camps. This is cleansing of ethnic and religious minorities in the extreme. And what does it say about the jihadists that they take pictures of the beheadings and mass killings and use these in promotional films to attract new recruits?

  1. The goal: Hamas and other Islamist groups aspire to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth. The goal of Israel is to live at peace with its neighbors, including Palestinians. As the vilified Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed it: “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more ‎violence. If the Jews put ‎down their weapons ‎today, there would be no ‎more Israel.”

Hamas aspires to eliminate Israel

Much could be written about each of these six dimensions of disparity, and there are more contrasts besides these. Only those who refuse to see can suggest a moral equivalence. As Samuel P. Huntington argues in his controversial book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, conflicts are rooted in religion, culture, and ideological vision.  We certainly see this in the conflict between Hamas and the Jews in Israel and groups like ISIS against Christians and the Yezidis in Iraq.

-          Darrow Miller

NOTE: We rarely solicit funds at Darrow Miller and Friends. However, if you have been moved by the plight of ethnic cleansing among Christians and Yezidis in Northern Iraq, and want a way to help, here are a couple of worthy avenues. My friends, Dr. George Grant and Dave Dillard, have been working in northern Iraq for some 15 years and have contacts with the church in Kurdistan. If you would like to help, see the links below. These will provide you, or your church, a way to get resources to those who are suffering. Please pass this information on to your friends. And please pray.

George Grant’s Fund for Kurdistan

Dave Dillard’s (founder of Servant Group International) Fund

 

  
Posted in Current events, Freedom, Islam, Worldview | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

GAZA: What Does it All Mean?

As Gaza suffers, what are we to think about the conflict?

One perspective comes from our friend, Randy, in his response to our recent post “Say No! to Injustice”:

“Correct, I say NO to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and illegal expansion/exploitation by the State of Israel (directly violating Gen. 18: 17-19) for over 60 years. I call it time for Israel to be brought before the UN ICJ.”

Randy and I agree on many things and respect each another, even if we do not agree on all issues. His comment deserves a response.

This initial post will focus on ethnic cleansing and the illegal expansion and exploitation of the Palestinians. From there we will write a short series of posts on the subject of the “moral equivalence” between Israel and Hamas, and the presence of manifest evil in the tactics of jihadists like ISIS in Iraq and Hamas in Gaza.

It is heartrending to watch the ongoing poverty of the Palestinian people in general. It is particularly grievous to see the current suffering of the people of Gaza. Who can watch the news out of Gaza without grieving the death and injuries among the civilian populations and the physical destruction of their communities, homes and property? It is gut-wrenching especially because it does not have to be this way.

In 1879 US Civil War officer General William T. Sherman said, “War is hell.” Thus has it always been. This latest conflict between Israel and Gaza is hell.

At times in Israel’s history her people have abused others in seeking to establish and maintain a modern homeland. I think specifically of the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and communities during the Arab-Israeli War in 1948 by the Haganah, the Jewish defense forces.

In November 1947 the United Nations General Assembly approved the partition of Palestine, providing for the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel and the Arab state of Palestine. With some reservations, the Jews accepted this partition while the Arab states generally rejected it.

On May 14, 1948, the day before the end of 50 years of British Mandate for Palestine, Israel established itself as an independent state in the land granted by the UN partition. Almost immediately the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq attacked Israel. Their goal was to drive the Jews from their ancient homeland.

To everyone’s surprise the Arab armies were defeated by the ragtag Israeli defense forces. By defeating the Arab armies, the Jews expanded their holdings to include about a third of the partition land that had been granted to the Palestinians. As a result, the Palestinians were left with the West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza strip.

The Arab nations had expected to win a quick and decisive victory over the Jews. In view of that expectation, they encouraged the Palestinians to flee their homes and then return upon the defeat of Israel. But most of the Palestinians who fled or were forcefully displaced ended up in exile in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and other lands.

But that is only half the story. While 700,000 Arabs were displaced from Israel, at the same time, about 750,000 Jews were forced to leave Arab lands where they had lived for generations. These fled to the new Jewish state of Israel.

So there is some substance to Randy’s claim. But I assume he would acknowledge that the situation between Israel and Gaza is complex. Yes, injustices have been perpetrated on both sides. But I do not mean to imply moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel.

Before elaborating on that last point, it’s important to distinguish between Muslim peoples on the one hand, and radical Islamists/Jihadists on the other. Most Muslims, like other citizens of the world, want to live in peace and raise their families. But the Jihadists, or Islamists, want to return to the world of the prophet Mohammed. A minority of Muslims are militants who want to renew the march of Islam to establish a global caliphate governed by Sharia law. The militant Hamas leaders are a different breed than the typical Palestinian civilian.

Randy accused the Israelis of ethnic cleansing. I do not regard this an accurate description of what is happening on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Ethnic cleansing is the intentional, systematic, forced removal – through intimidation, torture, deportation, and mass murder – of religious or ethnic groups from a territory.

As I write, ISIS is marching through Iraq, ethnically cleansing hundreds of thousands, even millions of people as they go. The church that has existed in Iraq since the Apostle Thomas brought the gospel nearly 2000 years ago is decimated. In the last week, ISIS has turned its attention on the Yezidis, a 4,000-year-old ethnic/religious minority community in Kurdistan numbering between 300,000 – 700,000. In a matter of a few days, hundreds of thousands have fled their homes. As I write these words thousands are dying of dehydration and starvation in the arid Sinjar mountains where they have fled for their lives.

Jihadists are also rooting out Christians in Syria, another church that dates its founding to New Testament times. This is ethnic cleansing in all of its horrors. Recently I saw a picture of a six or seven-year-old Syrian girl  whose headless body was dressed in her “Sunday best.” A beheaded child! One can hardly imagine such evil. This is terror on its most basic level.

In addition to Iraq and Syria, persecution of Christians in the Muslim world is occurring in places like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran.

Islamists are not killing Christians only. Their goal is to rid the world, not simply the Middle East, of Jews.

Gaza parallels Hitler and al Husseini partnership against Jews

Amin al Husseini und Adolf Hitler” by Heinrich Hoffmann

A hatred of Christians and Jews dates back to Mohammed’s move from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. But as recently as World War II, the Grand Mufti in Jerusalem, Amin el-Husseini, aligned himself with the Axis Powers and worked in collaboration with Hitler and the Third Reich.

Hitler and el-Husseini shared a vision for the extermination of the Jews. In November of 1943 he stated:

It is the duty of Muhammadans in general and Arabs in particular to … drive all Jews from Arab and Muhammadan countries … . Germany is also struggling against the common foe who oppressed Arabs and Muhammadans in their different countries. It has very clearly recognized the Jews for what they are and resolved to find a definitive solution [endgültige Lösung] for the Jewish danger that will eliminate the scourge that Jews represent in the world. ….”[1]

In modern times, there is a direct link between Hitler’s Third Reich and the war in Gaza. Nazi anti-Semitism was passed on to the political/spiritual descendants of el-Husseini, the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Gaza. Written into the Hamas charter is the clear and unequivocal statement that Israel is to be obliterated: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” What Hitler began in Europe, Hamas and other Jihadists want to finish in the Middle East: the destruction of Israel and the extermination of Jews from the world.

The application of the term “ethnic cleansing” to Israel is certainly inappropriate as we watch ethnic cleansing being defined by ISIS before our very eyes. The brutality and intensity of the slaughter of innocents is the manifestation of evil.

-          Darrow Miller

NOTE: We rarely solicit funds at Darrow Miller and Friends. However, if you have been moved by the plight of ethnic cleansing among Christians and Yezidis in Northern Iraq, and want a way to help, here are a couple of worthy avenues. My friends, Dr. George Grant and Dave Dillard, have been working in northern Iraq for some 15 years and have contacts with the church in Kurdistan. If you want to help, see the links below. These will provide you, or your church, a way to get resources to those who are suffering. Please pass this information on to your friends. And please pray.

George Grant’s Fund for Kurdistan

Dave Dillard’s (founder of Servant Group International) Fund

[1] Mattar, Philip (1984). “Al-Husayni and Iraq’s quest for independence, 1939-1941″. Arab Studies Quarterly 6 (4). pp. 267–281

 

  
Posted in Current events, Freedom | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

ISIS “deChristianizes” Mosul: Is the West Next?

Samer Kamil Yacub, age 70, was perhaps the last Christian to leave Mosul, Iraq, as reported by NBC News.

Why does that matter so much? Because Iraq has had a continuous Christian presence since the Apostle Thomas brought the gospel in the first century. That has now changed. That is why Yacub’s fleeing his home is a big deal!

ISIS flagChristians are fleeing a terrorist group called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). This ultra-militant Islamic body makes their sister organization, al Qaeda, look like grade-school children. ISIS took over much of Iraq and obliterated the border between Iraq and Syria. Not content to overthrow the governments of Iraq and Syria, they aspire to establish a caliphate, i.e. a religious state without borders.

An alternate name of ISIS is Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The Levant are those states in the Middle East comprised of Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus, and parts of southern Turkey. This name shows ISIS’s near-term goal of moving into other nations in the region, beginning with Lebanon and Jordan and ultimately establishing a larger caliphate in the Levant. As of this writing, ISIS has moved into Kurdish Iraq and has crossed the Lebanon border.

The ultimate goal would be a worldwide caliphate. Belgium is already being identified as “Belgistan” and it is said will likely be Islamic by 2030. Currently 25 percent of the population of Brussels, the Belgium capital, are Muslims.

In June, ISIS issued an ultimatum to the non-Muslims living in the portions of Iraq under ISIS control.

We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.

The first of the three choices is to renounce Christ (or for the secularist to renounce atheism) and convert – submit – to Islam. The second choice is the dhimma, an ancient Islamic concept in which non-Muslim citizens of a Muslim state pay a tax, the jizya. This is a material sign that the non-Muslims are subjugating themselves to the caliphate and Sharia law, submitting to the rule of Islam in exchange for one’s life. The third choice is to submit to the sword and die.

The jizya is established by the Quran in 9:29:

Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the Jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

In 2003 some 1.5 million Christians lived in Iraq, just over five percent of the population. Following the Iraq War and the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, hundreds of thousands of Christians fled. By 2013, the estimated Christian population was reduced to something between 200,000 and 450,000. Earlier this year 60,000 Christians remained in the city of Mosul. Following the June edict of ISIS the last Christian has left the city.

The world press has spotlighted Gaza as it writhes in pain and devastation. Gaza deserves coverage, to be sure. But the press has ignored tens of thousands of Christians suffering severe persecution in Syria and Iraq. They are fleeing with the clothes on their backs. They are being killed. Their homes and historic churches are being confiscated or destroyed.

Meanwhile, Islamists have turned their eyes on the West.

Given the current pace of Muslim immigration, most of Europe will be majority Islamic in one or two generations. The riots in France in recent weeks remind me of scenes from the Palestinian intifada. Is this the first European intifada? As demonstrations and riots over the Israeli-Gaza war spread in Europe, the ISIS flag is appearing everywhere. In many of these demonstrations the flag of the ISIS is raised by their supporters.

Note the ISIS flags in the video below of Muslims blocking a London tunnel.

We are also witnessing Western countries “paying tribute” to Islamic militants. In his July 29, 2014 article “Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror” for the New York Times, Rukmini Callimachi writes of the Jihadi groups’ new business model: kidnapping Westerners and holding them for ransom to fill their coffers for war against the West.

While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by The New York Times found that Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates have taken in at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66 million was paid just last year.

Put more bluntly, Europe has become an inadvertent underwriter of Al Qaeda.

Is the West beginning to act like dhimma? Is this, like the appearance of ISIS flags in Europe, a precursor of the jizya?

Writing for the Religious Freedom Coalition, Dr. Marc Durie raises the question, “Does the West pay a “Jizya” to Arab States?” In the piece he points out the important distinction between “aid” and jizya:

Aid or jizya – the difference is crucial. Aid is a gift to friends. Jizya is an act of surrender. Western donors should be most wary of making military donations to sharia-compliant states. … One of the traditional uses of jizya by Islamic states is to fund further jihad, so belligerence can extract more jizya.

The jihadists are raising money in the West to wage jihad against the West. Can such a blatant anomaly really exist? (One is reminded of Jesus’ words, A house divided against itself cannot stand, Matthew 12:25.) The West is capitulating to the jihad’s system. Is this the precursor to the status of dhimma and payment of the jizya?

These events comprise a serious wake-up call for the West generally and Christians particularly. Will we set aside our video games long enough to see what is going on?

ISIS thinks nothing of removing the last Christian from Iraq. What would stop such resolve from bringing  their war to the West?

-          Darrow Miller

NOTE: We rarely solicit funds at Darrow Miller and Friends. However, if you have been moved by the plight of ethnic cleansing among Christians and Yezidis in Northern Iraq, and want a way to help, here are a couple of worthy avenues. My friends, Dr. George Grant and Dave Dillard, have been working in northern Iraq for some 15 years and have contacts with the church in Kurdistan. If you would like to help, see the links below. These will provide you, or your church, a way to get resources to those who are suffering. Please pass this information on to your friends. And please pray.

George Grant’s Fund for Kurdistan

Dave Dillard’s (founder of Servant Group International) Fund

 

  
Posted in Current events, Freedom | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Even Darwin Had His Doubts

Darwin had his doubtsCharles Darwin would probably be surprised by today’s claims of “settled science.”

In Canada the issue of so-called same-sex “marriage” is “settled” and any questioning is considered “hate speech,” putting a damper on the freedom of speech. (For the story on this see Same-Sex Marriage Ten Years On: Lessons from Canada.)

Similarly, the issue of global warming is “settled science.” Dr. Robert Watson, a climate scientist and Director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, is famously quoted as saying, “The science is settled … We’re not going to reopen it here.” From a scientist we move to a politician. In his 2014 State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama proclaimed, “The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.”

These are just two examples of the tyranny of modern fundamentalist atheists.

Modern atheistic philosophy is a product of the ideology of Darwinism or Evolutionism. Dr. D. M. S. Watson, the Jodrell Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at University College, London, states the faith of the modern evolutionist:

Evolution . . . is accepted by zoologists not because it has been observed to occur or . . . can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.

Darwinism is a comprehensive belief system that encompasses all of life. Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, and sociologist, coined the evolutionary term “survival of the fittest.” When the foundation for the pursuit of truth–a Judeo-Christian worldview– is jettisoned, all that is left is the pursuit of power as established by the Darwinian doctrine.

This is why moderns use coercion and intimidation to stifle debate. The old virtues of free thinking and inquiry in the pursuit of truth are now squashed by political correctness. The new virtue is tolerance. Anyone who challenges cultural relativism and political correctness (i.e. the ideas or policies of the cultural elites) is labeled sexist, homophobic, anti-science, anti-choice, bigoted, etc.

In contrast to the doctrinaire statements of fundamentalist atheists, Charles Darwin had room for doubts. He had reservations both scientific and metaphysical in nature. Nancy Pearcey’s excellent book Total Truth has rekindled my interest in this subject.

Darwin thought his own theory was “grievously hypothetical”

Linguist John Oller and biochemist John Omdahl wrote in The Creation Hypothesis:

Even Charles Darwin thought his own theory was “grievously hypothetical” and gave emotional content to his doubts when he said, “The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder.” To think the eye had evolved by natural selection, Darwin said, “seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.” But he thought the same about something as simple as a peacock’s feather, which, he said, “makes me sick. ” Of course, anyone who has knowledge of the intricacies of the human eye and other living structures immediately realizes the problem Darwin sensed. How could an organ of such an intricate magnificence ever have originated via random chance? [1]

Darwin speaks of struggling with “horrid doubts.” These seem to have stemmed from both scientific and metaphysical skepticism within his soul.

With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of a man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. [2]

We get further light on Darwin’s doubts from his son, Francis, who edited The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volumes I & II. -

  • “I cannot too strongly express my conviction of the general truth of my doctrines, and God knows I have never shirked a difficulty.” (Darwin to Charles Lyell Sept. 20, 1859) -
  • “About the weak points I agree. The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder, but when I think of the fine known gradations, my reason tells me I ought to conquer the cold shudder.” (Darwin to Asa Gray [a Christian minister] Feb. ?, 1860)
  • “Henslow [says he]… will go a very little way with us [in accepting the Darwinian theory of evolution], but brings up no real argument against going further. He also shudders at the eye! It is really curious (and perhaps is an argument in our favour) how differently different opposers view the subject… Baden Powell says he never read anything so conclusive as my statement about the eye!” (Darwin to Charles Lyell Feb. 15, 1860)
  • “To recur to the eye. I really think it would have been dishonest, not to have faced the difficulty; and worse… it would have been impolitic I think, for it would have been thrown in my teeth, as H. Holland threw the bones of the ear, till Huxley shut him up by showing what a fine gradation occurred amongst living creatures.” (Darwin to Charles Lyell Feb. 23, 1860)
  • “…I remember well the time when the thought of the eye made me cold all over, but I have got over this stage of the complaint, and now small trifling particulars of structure often make me feel uncomfortable. The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!” (Darwin to Asa Gray Apr. 3, 1860)
  • “For the life of me I cannot see any difficulty in natural selection producing the most exquisite structure, if such structure can be arrived at by gradation, and I know from experience how hard it is to name any structure towards which at least some gradations are not known.” (Darwin to Charles Lyell Apr. 1860)

For more on this subject see Darwin’s Doubts by Stephen Meyer.

-          Darrow Miller

[1] Creation Hypothesis pg 274.

[2] From Francis Darwin’s Life and Letters of Charles Darwin.

  
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Say No! to Injustice

Injustice matters to God.

We have written before on the importance of civil disobedience in the Christian’s arsenal for engaging in cultures of corruption and injustice.

-          Civil Disobedience: When Law-abiding Citizens Should Break the Law

-          The Rule of Law in America: Is it time for civil disobedience?

-          How an ORDINARY PERSON Shaped History

-          God, the Bible, and Political Justice

Acts 16 records a remarkable story of civil disobedience. In this account, Paul and Silas resisted the culture of injustice in the Roman empire. They were subject to Rome but served a higher Authority. They demonstrated the power of No! to injustice. These servants of Christ understood that the moral law was above, and foundational to, civil law. They were willing to disobey the civil law in order to obey the moral law. They were law-abiding—not lawless—but their civil obedience was subject to limits.

This moment in history takes place in Philippi. The Roman order promoted slavery. One young female slave was enabled by a demon to tell fortunes. This “skill” brought her owner a sizable income (16:20). When one human profits by the slavery of another we are seeing profound injustice. When Paul commanded the evil spirit to leave the girl (16:17-18), he was saying “yes” to her health, and “no” to the injustice of her owner’s profits. Saying yes to the good requires saying no to evil!

The owner, bereft of his vile profits, dragged Paul and Silas before the magistrates. He accused them of “advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice” (16:21).

Paul and Silas paid a price for their “law-breaking” (16:22-24). The masses attacked them. The magistrates had them stripped, flogged, and thrown into prison. To add insult to injury, they were put in the “inner cell” – a place of greater security where torture could take place, and their feet fastened in the stocks.

What was the response of Paul and Silas to this injustice? They did not surrender to these dire circumstances. Rather than let their physical condition determine their response, they pushed back. They reflected the reality of the coming of the kingdom of God. The writer describes them singing and praying to God (16:25)!

God brought an earthquake, which dislodge the chains of the prisoners and threw open the doors (16:26-34). Did Paul and Silas take this as a sign from God that they should flee the prison and the injustice? No, they took it as an opportunity to reveal the nature of the Kingdom of God. By not escaping the injustice brought upon them, they showed grace to the jailer who was preparing to kill himself, believing that his prisoners had escaped on his watch. They preached the good news to the jailer and he and his family came to faith in Christ and were baptized. Their response was based on the Kingdom of God and not their physical circumstances. As a result, the jailer, his family,  and perhaps the other prisoners as well were welcomed into the kingdom.

In the morning, the magistrates sent word to the jailer that Paul and Silas were to be released (16:35-36). How did they respond? Did they say “Praise the Lord” for setting them free? No, they challenged the injustice. They called the magistrates to take account for their actions. This confrontation is recorded in 16:37:

But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”

Paul argued that the governing authorities had acted illegally against Roman citizens. They punished us publicly without the benefit of a trail. They threw us into prison. Now they want us to walk away quietly without public acknowledgement of the injustice.

The answer is No! It would have been far easier for Paul and Silas to have gone quietly. But they took the more difficult way. They made a public issue of the injustice they suffered and demanded that the powers that be admit their error and make it right.

There is power in saying No!

We need to be people who say No! to injustice, even if it means paying a price. As long as godly people go along with injustice, nothing will change. Only when justice means something in our lives will it mean something in our societies. When doing justice costs us something, the world will begin to listen. As long as we simply speak against injustice and do nothing about it, the world will have no reason to listen to our words.

Paul and Silas are just two of many examples of men and women who have stood up against injustice, and paid a price.

  • Of course the ultimate example is Jesus Christ himself whose atonement for sin was the supreme price paid that God might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom 3:25 ESV).
  • Peter takes his place alongside Paul, Silas, and others who said No! to the injustices of the Roman empire.
  • William Wilberforce said No! to the injustices of slavery in the British Empire.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe fought injustice

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

    • Harriett Beecher Stowe said No! to slavery in America.
    • Gandhi in India No! to the injustice of British colonial rule.
    • The great Russian novelist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said No! to Soviet Communism.
    • Nelson Mandela said No! to the apartheid system in South Africa.
    • Martin Luther King Jr. said No! to the denial of civil rights for blacks in the USA.
    • Jill Stanek is a modern day heroine in the fight for the rights of pre-born babies to live.

    As Christians we must be willing to say No! We must be willing to break unjust civil laws when those laws violate moral laws. We must be willing to take the consequences for breaking those laws. On a personal level, three times I have broken trespassing laws to save the lives of unborn babies. Three times I have gone to jail.

    To say Yes to the good is to say No to evil. In a fallen world, societies often practice and market evil. Christians need to stand for that which is true, good, and beautiful and against that which is evil.

    We must exercise the power of No!

    -          Darrow Miller

  
Posted in Culture, Social justice | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Compassion AND Law at the Border?

Border warning sign

“US-border-notice” by Makaristos – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Recently we published a post about the crisis on the Mexico/US border. Since then I came across a very helpful article by Erick Erickson, “Moral Clarity at the Border.” Erickson is an American political commentator and blogger.

Christians tend to divide into two streams of thought around this crisis. One school wants to show compassion for those who have crossed the border illegally. They cite scriptures like “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt,” (Exodus 23:9 ESV). They call for open borders. They want to eliminate the word “illegal” in discussions about immigration. Some are now promoting the encouragement of all the oppressed in Central America to come to the USA and be welcomed. If a fellow Christian disagrees he is indicted for a lack of compassion.

The other camp are those Christians who focus on the importance of respecting the law. They cite texts like, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God,” (Romans 13:1 NIV). They want to see the border closed and the deportation of those who have entered illegally. They often accuse those who show compassion to illegals of aiding and abetting lawlessness.

Are these the only two positions? Perhaps it is time to articulate a more nuanced stance. Should not Christians be both law abiding and compassionate? These two virtues are not contradictory. Both are needed to guide the discussion. What happens on the border needs to reflect both compassion and respect for the law.

Erick Erickson has shed a helpful light on this question with his piece, “Moral Clarity at the Border.”

-          Darrow Miller

  
Posted in Compassion, Current events, Morality | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Abortion Doesn’t Contribute to Women’s Health

Many years ago I was one of about 250 people picketing in front of a “women’s health clinic.” Why would we do such a thing? I think it would be safe to say that all of us supported women’s health. So why would we protest in front a women’s health clinic? Because it was a site where women were objectified and their babies killed. This was an abortion clinic! The people who ran it did not have the courage of their convictions to speak plainly about what took place inside. What they did to the mothers and their babies was horrendous. Their term—“women’s health clinic” was an empty euphemism.

As the English writer G.K. Chesterton said, “When man ceases to believe in God, he does not believe in nothing, he believes in anything.”

Euphemism reached an art form in Nazi Germany. Hitler actually believed the “high” Aryan superior to the “low” aboriginal. He decided to speed up evolution by the active use of eugenics. But he needed to disguise the horror with therapeutic language. The Nazis mingled torture and death camps with the language of human health.

Their vision and policies ultimately led to death camps as the means of purging the Jewish cancer from the Aryan race. But the genocide had its beginnings in subtler ways. Robert Jay Lifton, in his book, The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, notes that at the beginning the authorization for the killing was “oral and secret and to be ‘kept in a very narrow scope, and cover only the most serious cases’ ….” As the evil continued, however,  the practice of genocide became “loose, extensive, and increasingly known.” (page 51)

So called “useless eaters”—handicapped children and adults with mental deficiencies—were starved to death in Hungerhausers (literally “houses of hunger”). Abortion was prohibited for the Nordic races, but coercive abortion and sterilization were the norm for people with mental deficiencies, anti-social behaviors, and “lower races.” Genocide—the murder of a large group of people—was justified in the name of healing. Hitler wanted to purify humanity by assuring the Aryan future and exterminating people deemed inferior.

The Nazis, and much of the world, believed anything. With no moral absolutes, right and wrong were maliciously confused. Doctors tasked to save lives crossed a terrible threshold; the medical profession became human exterminators for the Reich.

Creative use of language was used to hide the insidious truth. Terms like “healing work,” “putting to sleep,” “special diet,” and “therapy” were euphemisms for murder. “Resettlement,” “deportation,” and “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” substituted for “genocide.” The Nazis, the German people, and the free world believed anything. In Germany it all began with the declarative lie, lebensunwerten Lebens, “Life Unworthy of Life.”

Melinda Gates doesn't fund abortion

Photo by Remy Steinegger

Recently, Melinda Gates, the wife of Bill Gates and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, made an excellent distinction between women’s health and abortion. Gates related an experience she had while speaking to reporters in Toronto, Canada, on June 2, 2014.

When I was in Canada, however, an issue came up that worries me. I sat with Prime Minister Harper for media interviews in Toronto, and while most of the conversation had to do with the impact of Canada’s commitment to RMNCH [Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health], every journalist also focused on Canada’s policy on abortion.

Let me tell you why this worries me.

Around the world there is a deep, broad, and powerful consensus: We should provide all women the information and tools to time and space their pregnancies in a safe and healthy way that works for them. This approach is simple, it works, and it saves lives.

The question of abortion should be dealt with separately. But in the United States and around the world the emotional and personal debate about abortion is threatening to get in the way of the lifesaving consensus regarding basic family planning.

I understand why there is so much emotion, but conflating these issues will slow down progress for tens of millions of women. That is why when I get asked about my views on abortion, I say that, like everyone, I struggle with the issue, but I’ve decided not to engage on it publicly—and the Gates Foundation has decided not to fund abortion.

I am focused on one thing: the opportunity to make a difference in tens of millions of women’s lives by giving them access to the information and resources they need to plan their families.

I understand that the abortion debate will continue, but conflating it with the consensus on so many of the things we need to do to keep women healthy is a mistake. We have made such great progress for women on prenatal care, on providing the contraceptives that they want, and on encouraging proper care and nutrition for newborns, and we need to keep moving forward. The only way to do that is to be clear, focused, and committed.

Abortion providers want to soften their image. That’s why they employ terms like “women’s health.” But abortion and women’s health are opposites. Mingling the terms has adverse effect on the health of millions of women. Thank you, Melinda, for speaking so clearly and powerfully about the danger or co-mingling these issues.

-          Darrow Miller

 

 

 

  
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The Nightmare on the Way to the American Dream

Recent events in Europe and the Middle East have pushed the border stories down a notch. But immigrants from Central America are still flooding into the US. Children and youth (and women) are fleeing corrupt and impoverished Central American nations. From American Dream the lure of Central American poor peopleGuatemala, Honduras and El Salvador they are streaming through Mexico across the border into Texas. Many parents believe they are sending their offspring to the American Dream, but the children are living a nightmare. They are riding atop freight trains. They are preyed on by gangs. On arrival they are staying in overcrowded public facilities while they await deportation hearings.

The nightmare begins by walking for days to Arriaga, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. There they scramble to the roof of a freight train called La Bestia (The Beast). Every two or three days this “train of death” departs for the two-week ride to the US border, filled with freight and covered with young imago Dei humans hoping for a better life.

Parents believe they are sending their offspring off to the American Dream … but the children are living a nightmare

The Mexican poet and environmentalist Homero Aridjis writes of the horrors of the journey:

Along the way pregnant women, mothers with infants, teenagers and adults will sleep on the streets or, if lucky, in makeshift or more permanent church-run shelters. During the long journey, accidents often happen, and passengers tumbling off the roof have their limbs severed. An aid group in Honduras has counted more than 450 migrants who have returned mutilated. Derailments are common, with cars flying off the tracks, leading to injuries and death.

Murders, muggings, extortions, gang rapes of women and kidnappings (some 20,000 a year) are committed by the rapidly expanding Central American Mara Salvatrucha gangs or by Mexican drug traffickers such as the bloodthirsty Zetas. They often infiltrate the groups of travelling migrants on the trains or in shelters, selling them drugs, tricking girls into prostitution, luring boys into gangs or murdering perceived informers. And at each stop, the migrants are prey to local police, who demand bribes up to several hundred dollars a head in exchange for allowing them to continue on their way.

(The above quote and particulars come from Homero Aridjis writing for The World Post. Go here for the full article.)

For those who make it to the US, the nightmare continues. The children are crowded into unused or underused public and military facilities. There they wait to be processed. Will they qualify to stay? Will their American Dream stay alive? Or will they be repatriated to their home country? The average wait time to find out is two years.

Here’s a personal glimpse of this crisis through the eyes of a Honduran woman named Miriam. She is a friend of my wife, Marilyn, who travels twice yearly to two very poor communities in rural Honduras.

Some years ago Marilyn started a program in these communities to help keep children in school. One young girl who benefited was Miriram’s daughter, Nancy. Instead of dropping out after the 6th grade and getting pregnant, Nancy stayed in class and graduated from high school. After graduation, Nancy married. The couple moved to the capital city, Tegusegalpa, where Nancy’s husband had a job. Nancy gave birth. Then Nancy’s husband lost his job. Desperate, he joined the migration of illegal immigrants to the US to look for work. Now, Nancy has told her mother that she is following the flood of immigrants to rejoin her husband and pursue the American Dream. Miriam is heartbroken and sick with worry for the safety of her daughter and four-month-old grandaughter.

My good friend, Lyd Pensado, lives and serves among the poor in Mexico City. Besides the local population, Lyd is ministering to the Central American women and children traveling through Mexico pursuing the American Dream. Some of them find themselves in the immigration detention center in Mexico City. Lyd reports her own experience and insights into the plight of those seeking to immigrate:

A year ago we started visiting the immigration detention station in Mexico City. Every Saturday we have an art therapy activity to start conversations and establish a relationship with the women, children and teenagers. This gives us an opportunity to hear many stories about their trip from the southern border. Some of these stories are very sad. Some women have left their babies or schooling for the “American Dream”.

After spending 2 or 3 weeks at the station, they feel completely demoralized; sadly, this is now the opportune time to help them realize that to migrate is not the best option. It is not the solution.

Having been in El Salvador, we understand more about their reality and worldview. Many of them have a relative in the USA and have received goods from there. This makes their lives easier and many of the Salvadorans don’t make more effort to develop their country or improve their life; they just live with money sent by somebody in the USA.

Now when we say ideas have consequences, I have a clear example. When people have other options but choose the “easy way” (the idea that it is easy to make money in another country), even when this means leaving their family and taking risks (some die on the way), it is painful. The choice of working hard and living simply is not easy, but what if more people began thinking like this? What if churches helped to develop their country? What if our preaching were more holistic?

We continue looking for more partners — churches in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua — to work together to prevent immigration based on the American Dream. We need to join efforts to increase the possibilities of livelihood in their own countries. I am always very surprised by all of the creativity that we have as Latinos; we take something old and we change it into something that we can use again. Why can’t we do that to develop our countries? What makes us limit ourselves?

Lyd and her team are ministering to those who have fled the poverty of their own communities. At the same time, she is trying to bring hope, and a vision, for the rebuilding and development of their own nations.

In other words, the solutions to this crisis include two streams of effort. One is to bring relief to the current suffering of migrating humans. The other is to help them understand the Creator’s principles which could lead their nation to flourishing.

Many people have a heart for the plight of the migrants pursuing the American Dream. All who do need to engage hearts of compassion AND minds for solutions to the poverty of these people, solutions that really work.

Good intentions are not enough. Neither is inattentiveness and inaction. Our time and our money are needed. We have the opportunity to support the people suffering the nightmare. We also can help those who are seeking to import the ideas and vision that produced the “American Dream” into the impoverished nations of the south.

-          Darrow Miller

  
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