What if their story were my story? In her talk entitled “I Was a Stranger” delivered at the April 2016 General Women’s Session of General Conference, Sister Linda K. Burton asks this very question after personally interacting with a few of the world’s estimated 60 million refugees. A perspective adjustment, for sure.
Our decision to feature a two-part story (June 2018 and August 2018 issues) on assisting immigrants in our area comes with acknowledgement that our country and communities are currently fraught with divisiveness, some of which revolves around how we welcome, treat and consider non-citizens. One organization that has not shied away from this issue, and in fact has embraced it, is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (You know, the Mormons!) Our June issue cover story features work being done on behalf of immigrant families through The Church’s Immigrant Services Initiative, and other faith-based services working with our church and its members.
As Latter-day Saints, we’ve been counseled well and recently on how to approach this issue. In a talk given in the April 2016 General Conference titled “Refuge from the Storm,” Elder Patrick Kearon Of the Seventy remarked, “There are highly charged arguments in governments and across society regarding what the definition of a refugee is and what should be done to assist (or expel) the refugees. My remarks are not intended in any way to form part of that heated discussion, nor to comment on immigration policy, but rather to focus on the people who have been driven from their homes and their countries by wars that they had no hand in starting.” This is the exact attitude with which we present our cover story.
“The Savior knows how it feels to be a refugee,” explains Elder Kearon. “He was one. As a young child, Jesus and His family fled to Egypt to escape the murderous swords of Herod. And at various points in His ministry, Jesus found Himself threatened and His life in danger, ultimately submitting to the designs of evil men who had plotted His death. Perhaps, then, it is all the more remarkable to us that He repeatedly taught us to love one another, to love as He loves, to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
May we all continue to work to love one another as He loves us, each of his children, in whatever circumstances others find themselves.