I’m Seeking Asylum Too
What do refugees and the Temperance Movement have in common?
On the surface, not much, but perhaps, as you look closer, more than your realise.
In February 2014 a riot broke out at Manus Island, one of a myriad of offshore detention centres operated by the Australian Government. This riot resulted in severe injuries to many refugees and the death of a 23 year old Iranian, Reza Berati. Berati was likely ‘a boat person,’ perhaps even ‘queue jumper’ if you prefer, but, more importantly and far too often forgotten Berati was first and foremost a human being.
The Australian Government, and by extension, its people have for too long dehumanised those legitimately seeking asylum from persecution and atrocities we couldn’t possibly fathom. Yet, instead of assisting those in desperate need of help we (the Australian people) continue to allow these people to be used as pawns in the political arena.
With all of this in mind, what are we, as a church doing about this? Simply put, nothing. I mean, why would we, what do refugees have to do with Christianity and Christian history? It’s not as if we believe in a Divine Being who came to this earth some 2000 years ago and then had to flee from his birthplace to Egypt because of a threat on His life. Oh, wait a second… (Matthew 2:1-15)
Likewise, as citizens of this world, aren’t we too ultimately seeking eternal asylum, safety and comfort through Jesus Christ? Given we understand the eternal need for asylum, surely then we can empathise with the plight of people requiring asylum today.
It’s time both sides of politics come out and say, “We’ve stuffed up on this issue!” It’s also time Adventists, and more broadly, Christianity, stop sidestepping politics because it’s too ‘worldly’ and start advocating for the rights of those who have little to no ability to advocate for themselves. (Matthew 25:40, 45)
Our denomination began on 1863 and thrived by following Gods leading in working with the social reform movement of the time, health and temperance. What would happen today if we listened to Gods voice in relation to how we apply the gospel to the current societal needs we see in the world today?
Josh Wood is a Pastor in the Victorian Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and lives in Melbourne.