Faith and Immigration

I’ve been wondering how faith persists for emigrants who are stuck between countries. In the news lately, we’ve been hearing about the massive numbers of persons who leave their country (usually war-torn or economically-depressed) in hopes of reaching another with greater chances for a decent life. They usually have a terrible journey filled with peril. How does their faith persist under such severe conditions?

I heard a story on Wednesday about emigrants holed-up in a stadium on the Greek island of Kos. There were thousands living there with scarce sources of water and few restrooms to meet basic hygiene needs. The Greek officials had locked them in! While they hoped that help was on the way, very little was coming.

If you’ve ever been to Greece (I have) in the summer, you can imagine how miserable it must be for these people who are seeking asylum. It’s a tropical island. If you haven’t been to Greece, you only need to imagine a very hot day in your own environment, then imagine that you were outside for days without cover, water, restrooms, and food. You get the picture now, I hope. It’s no vacation.

As a person of faith, I tend to view my faith resources as a means of coping and finding perspective. I wonder, however, how my faith might hold up under such conditions described above. It wouldn’t, on its own, change the situation. Bit, it might help me struggle for survival knowing that eventually I’d get through the immediate dangers. It might also provide me comfort that others are working on my behalf, that other human forces are on my side. It would also help me get along and strive together with my fellow detainees. It would give me a perspective that my struggle was temporary. “Trouble don’t last always.”

These are amongst the ways that my Unitarian Universalist faith might strengthen me. As a spiritual humanist, I am not inclined to put my trust in cosmic forces, though I don’t dispute their existence. On the other hand, for those who do believe in cosmic & heavenly forces, such as the God and Holy Spirit, I would absolutely encourage you to cling strongly, unflinchingly to your faith.

This is my hope for those who are stuck in various outposts in the world, as emigrants, on their way to a new life. When they learn of a capsized boat, or the death of a loved one trying to reach the other side (Europe, the U.S., or democratic nations in Asia), or find themselves being swindled by a smuggler, I want them to keep their faith. Don’t give in to despair, depression, and hopelessness.

That sounds easy for me to say, I know. I’m not the one suffering these inhumane conditions. Still, I offer encouragement and hope. The human spirit can prevail because it’s resilient and capable of “going through” and coming out on the other side, sometimes unscathed, albeit bruised.

For those interested in how the Unitarian Universalist faith can sustain you, please reach out to me. I want to talk to you. We can sit down, or Skype, or do a Google Hangout. Just reach out.

For those who are suffering in the midst of emigrating, I send my prayers, compassion, and encouragement to you. I’m there in spirit. I deeply trust and hope that all will be well.

Namaste,

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