Walk a Mile in My Shoes
CNN reports on Usoni , a futuristic television drama produced in Kenya that is about reversed immigration. The show depicts Europe in 2063, where life has turned unlivable after a deadly series of natural and economic disasters.
Europeans are desperately seeking a way to get to a livable continent south of them: Africa. The hardships in making the trip are unfathomable, and once the immigrants arrive, they are unwelcome, harassed, and rejected. The story follows a young couple, Ophelia and Ulysse, who are seeking to make their way with their unborn child to the land of promise.
Yes, the comparisons today to those seeking to immigrate to Europe (with obvious parallels to America) are intentional. Marc Rigaudis, the Kenya-based French filmmaker who created the program, is making a point to help us walk in the shoes of those whom we know the Bible calls “aliens and strangers.”
The chilling trailer depicting people like me being treated as illegal immigrants is enough to make one’s hair stand on end.
It troubles me that many Christians easily absorb popular sentiments against undocumented immigrants. Many Christians seem oblivious to the horrible conditions in which people are living, conditions that cause them to risk everything and their lives to get to Europe or America to provide for their families.
Like today, undocumented immigrants in Bible times were devoid of human rights, abused at will, relentlessly harassed. But that was not to be so among God’s people. “Aliens” were to be protected and provided for along with the poor, orphans, and widows, and they were even to be afforded the same treatment as citizens (Deut. 10:18–19).
Israelites were forbidden to oppress “strangers,” since they themselves were strangers in Egypt — their own 400-year “Usoni” experience in Africa (Ex. 22:21; 23:9). In fact, they were to welcome strangers because they might be encountering angels, messengers from God, unaware (Heb. 13:2).
If a television series can drive home a point all Christians should have been on to for 2,000 years, so be it. I can’t wait to see the series. What “welcoming strangers” looks like in terms of policy, I’m not qualified to articulate. But I can’t imagine that it looks like their current treatment. Because we are clearly not loving our neighbors as ourselves.
H. David Schuringa is the president of Crossroad Bible Institute in Grand Rapids, Mich., an international character formation and advocacy agency for people in prison and their families. With over two-thousand students in immigration detention centers, CBI has a keen interest in this subject.