I am more convinced than ever that we need to talk about conversion
About turning around
About finding a new way to do things
And yes, to talk about Jesus.
I’ve tried for a few days to work out how to write about my immense anger at the Australian government over our immigration policy and the violence at Manus Island detention centre. I am stunned that Australia is acting like the schoolyard bully – picking on the weakest, acting out of fear and puffing itself up with all sorts of self-righteous indignation at our rights. This is not who I aspire to be. More than that, I think it is playing to the worst parts of our national character. Small minded and self-focused; a blatant disregard for anyone else; painting ourselves as victims; not assuming a responsibility, let alone a passion for those in need.
I’ve met people like that, and they’re pretty ugly characters. And to be honest, there’s been times in my life when I’ve been like that –and it makes me cringe in disgust.
I know immigration policy is more complicated than what I can see from the outside. I don’t have comprehensive answers; and I am open to information and advice from those who are involved.
But I do know this.
Locking up people because they’ve come to us desperate for help is the act of deeply frightened and insecure people.
So, I think we need to talk about conversion. We do not need to be so afraid. There is more to life than holding on grimly to our little patch. There is a bigger story and we find it by opening our arms to the stranger; and learning to give ourselves a way. A least that’s something of how I understand the gospel.
What gives me some hope in the midst of it all, is seeing the many creative responses that are being made. We may well be a people who are afraid; but that is not the sum total of who we are.
Check out Cheryl Lawrie’s creative response around shoes and the basic needs of asylum seekers.
See the great work on hospitality being done by the Asylum Seeker Centre here.
Or talk to our very own Matt Potts and others who are working in the area.
We have no need to let fear be the dominant voice. It’s time to be converted (again) to love.