By Roger Kruse
My Dad’s forefathers came from Germany in mid-1800 and settled in western Ohio among other German immigrants. Flat and fertile ground made for good farming. My Mom’s parents came from Sweden in the next century and also made the Buckeye state their home. Her father worked in a pottery factory in Sebring. What does your family tree look like? Maybe you can trace your personal history to the earliest days of our nation’s history. Others of you may be relative newcomers to our great country. Unless you are Native American, at some point all of our families started out as immigrants here. Ancestry.com is now using DNA testing to help us discover our ethnicity and genealogies. Many people are surprised to learn that their personal history is very diverse.
Just to make things interesting, I married a Kiwi girl from New Zealand. Glenda and I met in India in 1980. Her mom and brother still call New Zealand home; however, my wife has now lived in America for 30 years. I am excited that she recently began the process of becoming a US citizen. Circumstances seemed right and she has always wanted to be able to vote at election time. Once she takes her test and has an interview she should be ready for final approval and the taking of the oath. I am already planning to have a Yankee Doodle party with family and friends to celebrate.
Of course, all of this coincides with the controversy surrounding how illegal and undocumented immigrants are handled these days and some Americans feel strongly that our borders should be better protected with the flow of people entering illegally stopped. They maintain that we are a nation governed by laws which need to be enforced. On the other hand, we have all heard stories of families split apart when a dad or mom is deported back to their native country. The pain of separation is truly heartbreaking. Plenty of Americans advocate a more lenient policy that allows for amnesty to be given in worthy cases. No doubt you have your own opinion.
One thing I do know is that in many developing nations I have visited in Asia and Africa, people look at America as a place they would love to call home. They rightly view the USA as a country where freedom, equality and hard work create opportunities for a prosperous life. They yearn to give their families something better. For most of them, that opportunity will never come. Nevertheless, there are many who desperately and persistently try to gain entry here, both legally and illegally. They seek escape from tyranny, persecution, war and suffering.
As a Christian, I do find it interesting that God commanded the Israelites to treat the stranger and the foreigner who lived among them with love and justice. They were forbidden to mistreat them and reminded that they too once lived in Egypt as oppressed slaves.
As we prepare to celebrate America’s freedom and unique heritage this fourth of July, let us remember to be thankful for the privileges and blessings that we enjoy. Also, let us reach out to the neighbors and friends among us who have recently made America their home. Kindness, helpfulness, and a warm welcome mean so much to any newcomer. I am always amazed by the gracious and generous hospitality shown to me as I visit India. Let us remember the words of Scripture found in Hebrews 13:2 telling us “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without
Roger Kruse knows well the feeling of being a stranger in a foreign land. Countless times he has been welcomed with love, generosity and even personal sacrifice. May God help us all to treat others as we would like to be treated.