January 11, Wednesday

Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor, Ph.D.) will present a series of blogs, dealing with various issues raised in the recent election that showed a deep divide, impacting both society at large and the church.  The thoughts presented are processed through the lens of the Radical-Middle (both/and), personal narratives, and pastoral concerns.  Your rational feedback is welcomed.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the respective views of AMI pastors.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY

What Life is Like for the Families Left Behind in Mexico

Rom. 12:16: Be willing to associate with people of low position.

Ps. 146:9b: The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless.

Before leaving for Mexico in 2001, I had lived in Southern California for nearly 20 years, during which time I encountered many Mexican men working as farm hands or day-laborers, who regularly sent money to support their families in Mexico.  Though I never thought about it then, I would’ve guessed that these families were quite elated upon receiving the money.  But a visit to Nealtican, Puebla (near the active volcano “Popocatēpetl”), a small city of 25,000 habitants, forever changed my perception.

11I visited Nealtican three times to teach a week-long course to train missionary candidates—the first time being 2003, when I stayed at Juanita’s three story brick house.

A mother of three children, her husband was working in the States as an undocumented immigrant.  And I quickly learned why: there were no jobs there.  In fact, the mayor of Nealtican, speaking briefly at the inaugural service, asked us to pray for his city because of rampant juvenile delinquency, exacerbated by absent fathers.

While staying there, I got to see what life was like for the families in Mexico of illegal aliens in the States. The children desperately missed their father.  Once a week, the family would walk to the nearest public phone and would wait for a call from the States that may not come.  During dinner, they would talk about their conversations with their dad, or if he hadn’t called, how they missed him. Listening to this and eating the meals especially prepared for their Korean guest for a week, I thought to myself, “I may not agree with illegal immigration, but I must empathize and show compassion to illegal immigrants.”  Wanting to show my appreciation for Juanita, I took the whole family out for a nice dinner before leaving.

By the time I returned to Nealtican in 2007 to teach again, Juanita and the boys had long gone to the States—presumably without proper documents—to join her husband.  I was told that the oldest child, a teenage girl when I first met her, married a 40-year old man because he promised her love and security.  I felt sad upon hearing that.  So it goes in Mexico among the families left behind.

People without proper documents may be illegal before the law, but they are people whom God loves. While the law must do what it is called to do, we ought to be willing to associate with people of low position, such as illegal immigrants, tangibly showing them compassion and encouragement while sharing the gospel of Christ.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for choosing the way of the incarnation to save us, where Jesus became like us in every aspect. You did that not only to save us, but so that we can be assured that Jesus is able to empathize with us, and therefore, go to Him.  Thank you!

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 11


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Hebrews 2:17-8: Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 4:15-6: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Questions to Consider

  1. In what sense did Christ empathize with us?
  2. How does that help our confidence in Christ’s capacity to really help us?
  3. Think about a person in your life to whom you need to show empathy.

Notes

  1. By becoming a real human, Christ went through all the experiences encountered by every human being. Though never ceasing to be God at any moment, Jesus underwent hunger, fatigue (Jn. 4:6), disappointment (Matt. 26:40; Jn. 14:9), and even anguish (Matt. 26:38). Consequently, Christ, in His humanity, has personal knowledge of what we go through.
  2. Of course, Christ didn’t have be a human being to know what we go through, since He is an all knowing God. Ultimately, then, Christ underwent human experiences so that we can have more confidence in His capacity to really help us.
  3. What was the last painful experience you went through? Look around to see who is going through the same thing.   You can empathize with that person better than others.

EVENING REFLECTION

Did you run into anyone who was going through a difficult moment today?  Perhaps, you are that person.  Before we seek empathy from man, let’s first go to Christ, for He truly understands us.  Pray to Him, casting all your cares upon Him.

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