It is far too easy to jump to our political corners and defend our political party to the death, so I am going to try and refrain from that action here today with this post. I believe that we often put country before God and I think we jump to that rather quickly with immigration. Far too often we start our positions on immigration from a political affiliation instead of a Biblical one. To be fair to both sides, I think the conservatives are guilty of this on immigration and liberals are guilty of it in regards to abortion.
Our Experiences Vacationing out of the Country
I told my wife that the next time that we travel outside of the country it will be for mission work. I am not talking about mission work where you go paint a house, I am talking about mission work where my family has to worry about my well being every day. Not that I have a death wish, but I think anything less than that is not productive for Christ.
My Chiropractor does a great amount of work in the country of Jamaica. He goes into remote villages in the jungle and works with the locals and their posture. He is also working with the government to find a better route for Jamaican adoptions. I talked to him about my concerns with these fancy resorts in the third world nations. He then brought up that the resorts in these third – world countries actually have invested in infrastructure to shield the consumer from seeing what the living conditions actually are for the citizens of these countries. Sad! (Donald Trump tweet style)
Before you throw a fit about my discussions regarding the tourism industry, I already know that the average amount of revenue for the country form tourism is around 75% of their entire economy.
The first trip I took outside of the country was to the Bahamas with my wife’s entire family. This included her mom, dad, grandma, aunt, uncle, and two cousins. We talked with the employees there about what they do outside of work and I was surprised to find out that most of the lifeguards at the resort go fishing for conk shells. On their days off they would often spend up to 12 hours a day fishing for conk as it is in such demand for the tourism industry. Her cousin also decided to indulge in the local “herbal” delicacies from a lifeguard that was less than sketchy.
We decided to take an excursion outside of the resort to visit another site on the island. To do this we had to take a taxi and walk through one of the major cities in the Bahamas. The results to me were startling. Drivers did not obey the traffic lights and were even allowed to drink and drive as long as they did not drive erratically. We went to an area called the “straw market” and I was incredibly saddened by what I saw. Sure, some of it is theater from the locals so you purchase goods from them, but you cannot hide the rotting teeth, inflamed guts in the children from malnutrition, and the stench from not showering with running water.
What repulsed me even more was the way we treated the locals with our bartering. I mean, what is $40 for a trinket to us? What is $40 for the family that made the little necklace? The American guilt I felt was a deep pit in my stomach that I still feel to this day. This feeling only got worse with the other countries we visited.
When my wife and I married we decided to take our honeymoon in Jamaica. The problem with Jamaica was that the beaches in front of our resorts were public. This was vastly different from the Bahamas as they actually had armed guards patrolling the beach property in front of the resorts, you know, so the local trash did not disturb the guests.
The ironic thing about the locals in Jamaica was that they were extremely funny and friendly. Our favorite local would sing American songs while we relaxed on the beach with our free drinks and free food. What saddened me, was when we were at dinner one night and the waitress told us how lucky we were to live in America. She was also talking to us about how she was saving up to buy off a guard that her friend knew in the United States. She said that some of the guards will allow you to go through for just the right amount of money. …We tipped her extra that night so maybe she could make her way here one day.
The Dominican Republic
If the above experiences were not enough, I had finally had it in the Dominican. We passed a billion dollar sugar cane factory that was invested in by the Chinese. Trains went from farm to farm, field to field, just to collect the sugar cane that was manually harvested by Haitians. Even the Dominicans would not work the fields as it was to labor intensive.
The fresh water rivers looked like the river in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This sight was similar in Jamaica, but even worse in the Dominican. And these people walk miles to drink it!
While driving to the resort from the hotel, our tour guide pointed out this hut village in the middle of the country. He talked about all of these major league ball players that all came from this village of metal shacks with sugar cane roofs. He said in the Dominican the only chance they have of making it out of poverty is baseball. That is why you see so many South and Central American ball players in the MLB today.
The Guilt I Feel
There was only reoccurring trend that I felt through all of my experiences: We were the customers at the zoo. We lived among the people and citizens of these impoverished nations and looked out our windows at them with our camera phones. We took pictures, thought about how awful it would be to live here, and then complained about our food at dinner that night to the lady that had to go home to a hut where she lived with her extended family.
I cannot imagine what the feeling would be like to work at these resorts. The amount of customers from around the world treating this gourmet food like it was trash. Leaving our plates full because we did not like the taste. Leaving our drinks have full because it cooled down before we could enjoy the hot coffee. Asking for more alcohol because the bite to our mixed drink was just not enough. I still feel sick for this to this day.
Last week President Trump and the Republicans were in hot water over their policy proposal with separating the immigrant – sorry, ILLEGAL ALIEN – families at the border. I had a hard time processing this when I was discussing it with my wife. Sure, I like President Trump and I am a Republican. I also understand that this was the policy under Obama and the media turned a blind eye to it.
I understand all of this. But I also understand that I could not go to the border and keep these families out. Sure, we let in some bad individuals, but how many bad people are here today that are born here? We are the most prosperous, richest nation in the world, should we not want to share it with the people that want to come in and reap the benefit? Some abuse the system, some go to welfare, but at what cost to our human decency?
We often forget that God is sovereign and His Will will be done. We take comfort in knowing this as long as He does not make it too uncomfortable for us. If we were that South American family that wanted the best for our children, would we not also try and make it here illegally? I will do whatever it takes so my son has a better living than I have now. I can only expect that from these families as well.
As Christians we are called to go out and make disciples as described in the Great Commission. I think any social or governmental issue below that is just that – secondary.
If you want to read a great article on this topic, go to David Platt’s article at The Gospel Coalition. I do not agree with most of the TGC stances as I discuss in detail in other blog postings, but I follow Platt and really enjoy his ministry.