Genuine Refugees or Illegal Immigrants?

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News reports the past several days have shown an estimated 7,000 people, mostly from the Central American countries of Honduras and Guatemala, traveling through Mexico on their way to the United States. Are they to be considered genuine refugees or illegal immigrants?

Internet stories abound, replete with photos of men, women, and children carrying small bags of clothing or other personal possessions. Their facial expressions range from tearful fright to aggressive anger. Many are young men, seemingly traveling with buddies but no identifiable family. Some are young children with mothers or fathers or grandparents or aunts or uncles.

Most are walking. Some are riding on flat bed trailers or in the back of pickup trucks. Some are floating on makeshift rafts or inner tubes on the Suchiate River, the border between Guatemala and Mexico, trying to bypass border officials. Others have torn down barricades at the border between Guatemala and Mexico. Still others wait in line at the border to enter Mexico legally.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. the debate rages on, fueled by approaching mid-term elections and the broad chasm between those who would welcome anyone to our country and those who take a more restrictive approach. Again, are those who seek entry genuine refugees or illegal immigrants? Either way, they are human beings, children of our heavenly Father. There’s no simple solution.

In the mid-19th century my forefathers and foremothers, and very likely yours as well, left their home country and came to America. They traveled on ships, enduring dire conditions throughout the three month voyage. Upon arrival in New York or New Orleans or Galveston, they made their way to what became their new home and eked out a living from the land.

There was little if any public assistance available to our ancestors. They made their own way and became law abiding, tax paying citizens of this country. They pledged their allegiance to the flag and to the values of the United States of America. That was then. This is now. Some in the current immigration caravan surely seek to do the same. What about the others?

What should be our proper response to this humanitarian dilemma? We have laws that govern immigration to our shores. Those laws need to be followed or amended. Not all the immigrants in question are evil people, just folks who seek safety and opportunity to provide basic needs for themselves and their families. We need to do what we can to help them reestablish their lives in our country. That assistance must be provided responsibly.

The Bible is full of encouragement, even commands, for people of God to welcome strangers. It’s much easier to do so when those strangers are genuine refugees, not illegal immigrants.

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Acts of Nature

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Are you as weary as I am of the seemingly never ending hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, floods, fires, droughts, and earthquakes? Enough, already!

More important than our weariness is the loss experienced by those directly or indirectly affected by these powerful and destructive acts of nature. The list includes demolished homes and businesses, damaged or destroyed property and possessions, loss of life or limb.

These events are often called “acts of God” but almost always have human or meteorological causes. I wonder about the role of the God of the universe in the manifestation of power in the forces of nature. Obviously he allows such things to happen. But does he always cause them? Such quandaries belong in the category of questions to ask the Lord someday.

To be sure, examples of God acting through nature are found in the pages of Holy Scripture, most notably the great flood, undoubtedly the single most destructive event in world history. Yet we also know, on another occasion, that the Lord’s appearance to Elijah was not in a great and mighty wind, nor in an earthquake or fire, but in “a still, small voice.” 1 Kings 19:12

What then are we to do when hurricanes named Harvey or Katrina or Michael ravage communities and ruin lives? When fires in California turn assets into ashes? When torrential rainfall in Texas converts peaceful rivers into raging floodwaters?

We say “Lord, have mercy!” We do what we can to relieve the suffering of those directly impacted. We assist with picking up whatever pieces of their lives remain. We help rebuild and replace their property and possessions. And we do our best not to become weary in doing well. Gal. 6:9

Driving Hope

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In my life I’ve known many people suffering from cancer. It took my father’s life 35 years ago. This debilitating disease affects both patient and family.

One of the greatest challenges faced by cancer patients and their loved ones is the necessity of traveling from home to a major medical center for treatment. Often such facilities are hundreds of miles away in major metropolitan areas with dangerous traffic volume and congestion.

The levels of anxiety, worry, and fear escalate in situations like this. The family member doing the driving is gravely concerned about and fearful for the wellbeing and life of the patient. Add to that the tension brought on by the trip and the result is a predictably high level of stress.

Last year Michael Hohle, truck-driving brother of my longtime friend Dr. Philip Hohle, came up with the excellent idea of what is now called Driving Hope of Texas. The plan is to secure at least one customized van that would be used to transport patients to treatment centers.

The comfortable van will include reclining seats, entertainment system, and on-board restroom. An atmosphere of Christian support, prayer, meditation, and encouragement will bless the ride.

The Mission of Driving Hope is to provide safe, timely, comfortable, affordable, long distance transportation to cancer patients (and their caregiver) by making a round trip from rural communities in Texas to distant treatment centers. Initial service will include the counties of Brown, Mills, Bell, Milam, Comanche, Hamilton, and Coryell, with more routes to be added.

Driving Hope provides neither medical nor counseling services. It is essentially a taxi service, set apart from other transportation options by the difference it will make for clients. The environment of care, comfort, and hope will make the trip as bearable as possible.

Because this is a startup organization, initial funding is needed. To assist in this endeavor, make plans now to attend the Friday, Nov 23 Glimmer of Hope BBQ, Dance, and Auction at Dale’s Essenhaus in Walburg. BBQ plates with sides are $15 and are also available to go.

The evening will include Country and Western music. Wear your boots! Shoppers will be able to pick up Christmas gifts at the live and silent auctions, which will feature many unique items. Few Black Friday deals are as satisfying as simply helping another human being in need.

Normally I do not advertise ministries or organizations in my Perspectives articles. Today I’m making an exception and encourage you to join Terry and me in supporting this worthy cause. Go to https://www.drivinghopetexas.org/ for tickets, online giving, and additional information.

Estate Planning Stories

 

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Here’s a non-serious and perhaps non-factual story about creative estate planning:

Joe was a single guy. He lived at home with his widowed father and worked in the family business. After he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with whom to share his fortune.

One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away. “I may look like just an ordinary man,” he said to her. “But in only a few years my father will die and I’ll inherit 20 million dollars.”

Impressed, the woman obtained his business card. Three days later she became his stepmother.

Women are so much better at estate planning than men.

Now here’s a true story on the serious side. Over 30 years ago during my first term of duty with what was then known as Lutheran Foundation of Texas, I assisted a married couple with their estate plan. For a number of reasons they asked LFOT, now Legacy Deo, to serve as executor of their respective estates. He died several years ago. She passed away earlier this year.

In accord with directives in their last will and testament, the Executive Director of LFOT, now known as the Chief Executive Officer of Legacy Deo, is serving as executor. That’s me.

This couple’s estate included a double crypt at a funeral home in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Recently in that state for another reason, I was able to look at this very valuable estate asset. Because the family chose to be buried in Texas, they no longer need the crypt, now for sale.

The funeral home is the most beautiful I have ever seen. The main building is surrounded by well-manicured grounds and acres of bronze grave markers. The interior includes pristine, dignified crypt halls with burial spaces on each side, from floor to ceiling. I was impressed!

It’s my duty to liquidate all assets of this estate, which will then be distributed to the Lutheran congregation of which these two dear folks were members. If you’re interested in more information about crypt location and price, let me know. I’ll be happy to provide the details.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, I strongly encourage you to do what these fine folks did. Take care of the very important matter of estate planning, which is not accomplished simply by marrying a wealthy senior citizen. Planning your estate is a critically significant responsibility that, when accomplished, will bring peace of mind to you and to your family. Legacy Deo can help.