[notice]Songwriter and student of worship trends, Hugh Wetmore, says that while feeling deeply stirred by the xenophobia crisis in South Africa “I found a message rising in my spirit around some songs I’d written a while back”. He shares the message in this special edition of his monthly column[/notice]
The Lord God does not tolerate the crime of xenophobia. He speaks through Exodus 23:9: “Do not oppress an alien. You yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt”. Doesn’t that sound familiar? It’s the argument our President uses when he reminds xenophobic South Africans that the rest of Africa welcomed them when they fled oppression under apartheid.
And xenophobia is totally incompatible with the Christian Gospel. Jesus Himself was a refugee from persecution in his Judean homeland. King Herod feared any rival prince, and strategised to kill Him. He fled to Egypt, of all places. The country where His ancestors had been aliens. The country which had oppressed His people, from which God had miraculously delivered them. Moses had told Pharaoh that he must “let my people go out of Egyupt so that they might worship Yahweh”. Yet many centuries later, Jesus found refuge in that same country of Egypt. And Egypt is in our own continent, Africa!
Think what would have happened (humanly speaking) if the Egyptians had xenophobed Joseph and Mary with their son Jesus – and told them to ‘pack your bags and go back to Judea where you came from’. Back to the murderer Herod, who was salivating for Jesus’ blood.
5l THE REFUGEE KING
Welcome to Africa, young refugee,
fleeing from Herod’s murderous decree.
Here you’re secure, protected in our land,
safe from the massacre that Herod planned.
We need the peace & goodwill You can bring,
we need a just and gracious, godly King.
Stay here and heal our continent’s sad mess,
rescue our poor from their enslaved distress.
Why are you leaving, going north again?
Why are You leaving us still in our pain?
Your answer’s in the stars that shine above:
Southern Cross tells of Your sin-bearing love.
Your precious life is one lone mealie seed ~
only in death will it revive and breed,
yielding a copious harvest of new grain
bringing more glory to the Saviour’s name.
Words: Hugh G Wetmore (c)1995, 2006
Based on Matt 2:13,14,19-23 Is 9:6,7 1Pet 2:24 Jn 12:24,31,32
Tune: Refugee King by H Hudson or Eventide CD 4.9
or Maori (Now is the hour… and … Search me O God) CD 12.9
Only when it was safe to do so, did the Holy Family return to Judea. They were not chased out by the Egyptians. They returned voluntarily.
Yet it was back in Israel’s Promised Land that Jesus’ own people ultimately rejected Him. “He came to His own, but the world did not recognise Him. His own people did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1;11,12)
This cruel rejection, culminating in His gruesome death on the cross, was the seed which later sprouted in Resurrection to yield a copious harvest. A harvest that continues to this day as more and more people “receive Him and believe in His Name.” They become true “children of God”.
To the Jews, the Gentiles were aliens, separate from Christ and excluded from Israel. Ephesians 2:11,12 Yet Jesus came to call locals and foreigners to Himself and to one another. In John 10:16 Jesus explains it this way: “I have other (Gentile) sheep which are not of this (Jewish) sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” Paul agreed: “Now in Christ Jesus you (Gentiles) who were far away (from the Jews) have been brought near through the blood of Christ. … He has made the two, (Gentile and Jew,) one … His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace.” (Ephesians 2:13-15). Jesus came to abolish Xenophobia by bringing people of all races, all nations to God through His reconciling death on the cross.
36t BRING THEM BACK HOME
We are heirs of the Father,
we are joint-heirs with the Son,
we are children of the Kingdom,
we are family, we are one.
There are still unreached people
for whom Jesus Christ has died,
they are foreign to the Kingdom
and the family ~ they’re outside.
Let us go as God’s messengers
let us bring them back home,
back into the Kingdom
and the family ~ to be one.
Words: v1 Jimmy & Carol Owens Rom. 8:15-17
(c) 1974 Lexicon Music Box 2222 Newbury Park Ca 91320
v2,3 Hugh G Wetmore based on John 10:16
Tune: Heirs of the Father(Scripture in Song 165)
Under Copyright law, the tune may be named and sung but not reproduced in association with any words other than the original words.
God’s love for all people should fill the hearts of everyone, especially Christians. Christians are those who have been cleansed by the reconciling blood of Jesus which destroys all natural, human barriers of hostility. We must show genuine love for the alien, and defend them from the attacks of those xenophobic people who follow Satan as their Master. The devil’s purpose is the opposite of the reconciling purpose of Jesus Christ. The devil is a liar and a murderer from the beginning, and his purpose is to steal, kill and destroy (John 8:44 and John 10:10).
36u CARE FOR THE ALIEN
Lonely the foreigner, far from his family
speaking a language that sets her apart.
Often a refugee, fleeing from trouble,
needing a friend with compassionate heart.
Welcome the ostracised, outcast and alien,
Show Christ’s compassion as Saviour of all.
Care for the alien, stranger among us,
Show Jesus’ love to outcast and poor.
Heal the Samaritan, welcome the migrant,
Ostracised people must feel they’re secure.
Fear in his haunted eyes, as xenophobia
drives local people to drive them to hell.
Show them by word and deed, that Jesus loves them;
bring them to Jesus, the Saviour of all.
Unlike the world around, where selfish int’rests
deaden ubuntu*, and mad dog eats dog,
foll’wers of Jesus Christ must be distinctive,
showing an attitude like that of God.
Words: Hugh G Wetmore © May 2008 prompted by a request from Rev Kenneth at a time when xenophobic riots spread through South Africa.
Metre: 188.8.131.52 11.10
Tune: Rescue the perishing (W H Doane) Alexanders’ Hymns #73 CD 5.5
* ’Ubuntu’ is the Zulu word for ‘humaneness’ caring for others because they are human, claimed by many to be an intrinsic African value.
The words “all kindness” may be substituted for “ubuntu” if so desired.
Promoted by World Evangelical Alliance for U.N. World Refugee Day 2013
Will you pledge yourself to “show an anti-xenophobia attitude like that of God”? Will you love the aliens, protect them and support efforts to assist them, and seek to bring them to Christ?