US Cleric Rejects Liberians’ Deportation – Rev. Winkler: “Bible Commends Us to Welcome Sojourners”

The umbilical cord that holds together the United States and Liberia has come a long mighty way and continues to grow fresh in many dimensions besides politics and diplomacy. There have been challenges along the way, and it appears the relations between the two countries—Liberia being progeny of the United States—may sink to an all-time low next year when thrones of Liberians in the US are expected to be forcefully sent back in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s austerity immigration policy. But the American Church, represented by its biggest Christian organization, the USA National Council of Churches (NCC/USA), is flatly rejecting the action and rallying its members to undo it and give Liberians in that country some reprieve. This was revealed by the President of the NCC/USA, Rev. Jim Winkler, who is the Special Guest Speaker at the 32nd Assembly of the Liberia Council of Churches. The Analyst reports.

Besides his biblical message of hope and peace towards the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ, which he delivered at the Liberia Council of Churches’ 32nd Assembly, Rev. Jim Winkler also spoke of moves by him and his organization to work in the interest of Liberians threatened with deportation from the United States by the Donald Trump administration.

The Liberia Council of Churches is hosting the president of the NCC/USA at its 32nd Assembly running from November 28 to December 2 and it is held under the theme, “Consolidating National Reconciliation and Unity: An Imperative for Sustainable Growth and Development.”

The Assembly enters its third day today, Friday, November 30, 2018. Already the keynote speaker, Rev. Jim Winkler has given his address occasioning the opening of the Assembly taking place at the St. Stephen Episcopal Church in  Sinkor, Monrovia.


Fight to Reverse Deportation of Liberians

In his statement, the NCC/USA President said there were efforts being made by him and congregations under his leadership to protect the status of Liberians in the United States, expressing regrets that the US government is threatening to deport several thousand Liberians next year.

“We will work with the new Congress and the administration to protect their status,” Rev. Winkler said, adding: “We stand with you because the Bible commands us to welcome and care for the sojourner and immigrant and refugee and we have ample resources to ensure Liberians in the US have a safe and secure life.”

The American prelate acknowledged that the world is experiencing an unprecedented migration crisis with more than 760 million people on the move.

“While some countries have offered a place of safety others have responded with xenophobic and racist policies including my own country, at this time,” he asserted, indicating that just two days ago women and children fleeing from political violence and gangs in Central America were tear gassed on the border of Mexico. “There are terrible pictures of them running away.”

He divulged further: “Jesus said, ‘For I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’ We are asking our congregations to arrange meetings with elected officials so they can urge them to support refugees and immigrants. We are asking President Trump to rescind all policies that are negatively impacting refugees and immigrants and to affirm welcoming policies and a robust refugee resettlement program.

“We also urge President Trump to align the United States with relevant international treaties and agreements that relate to migration including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Global Compacts no Orderly and Regular Migration and Refugees.”

The cleric who reported that his flight was cancelled twice but that knew Jesus meant for him to be in Liberia, thanked the President of the Liberia Council of Churches, Rev. Kortu Brown and Bishop Temple of All African Council of Churches for their hard work in the service of God.

“I serve today as president of the National Council of Churches in the USA. Our council was established in 1908 and we now have 38 member denominations consisting of 30 million Christians in more than 100,000 local churches,” he said. “Seven African American Baptist and Methodist churches, nine Orthodox churches, peace churches, and the mainline Protestant churches make up the Council.”

He said his organization seeks Christian unity and carries out interreligious dialogues.

“We publish the Bible and the International Sunday School lessons and we raise our voice in the halls of power in the name of Jesus as advocates for justice and peace,” Rev. Winkler to the parked congregation.

He asked the Liberian Council of Churches to remain committed to Christ, to the ecumenical enterprise and the search for unity among all Christians.

“Will we honor and love God? Will we obey God and care for the sick, the poor, the needy, or will we serve the gods of materialism and nationalism and militarism and seek riches for ourselves and for our nation to be over and above other nations? Will we see to it that the refugee and the immigrant and the sojourner is cared for or will be build walls and separate parents from their children?”

The US cleric told his congregation that the Bible has a lot to say about immigrants. “Here are a few examples: ‘The Lord your God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords, the great, mighty and awesome God who doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t take bribes. He enacts justice for orphans and widows, and loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt’ (Deut. 10:17-19, CEB). “You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt (Exodus 23:9, NLT). The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you” (Exodus 12:49, NIV).”

Over and over, throughout the Holy Scriptures, he noted, the story of the unfaithfulness of God’s people is told. God repeatedly warns and punishes the people of Israel but again and again God reconciles with them and re-establishes a covenant. But the cost of disobedience is real. Israel is punished for its transgressions—famine and pestilence visit the land. Invading armies lay siege and overrun the nation. Leaders are carried off into exile.

He said the children of God should learn the lessons of repeated disobedience.

“When we seek riches at the expense of the last, the least, and the lost God takes notice. When we spend our national resources on weapons and spies rather than on programs of social uplift we risk bankrupting ourselves morally and financially.”

“Our world is fluid and changing,” he continued. “It is marked by joy and heartache. It is in the grip of hunger-making, war-making, and desert-making systems. But we are a resurrection people because of Jesus. Jesus brings us together. Let us advance the cause of Christ as we go forth in the work for national reconciliation and unity.” SEE FULL TEXT OF NCCUSA’S President speech on page 6 of this edition.

Also speaking, the vice president of the Liberia Council of Churches’ chapter in the United States of America calls on the mother group of the LCC in Liberia to join in the fight for dual citizenship.

He told a huge congregation at the 32nd Assembly of the LCC that his group in the US has also embarked on a campaign to engage the US Government to halt the decision to deport Liberians from the States.

The LCC official further expressed delight in the proposal by the LCC to restore and maintain peace, unity and reconciliation, and lauded the group’s advocacy for equal and social justice amongst the people of Liberia over the year.

Other speakers that are to address the Assembly include Bishop Dr. Thomas Schirmacher, the Speaker on Human Rights and Advocacy as tools for National Reconciliation and Unity; and Bishop Arnold C. Temple of the Africa Council of Churches who is to speak on “The Role of the Church in promoting Reconciliation and Unity.”

Bishop Dr. Kortu Brown, the LCC president expressed delight over the present of the US National Council of Churches President in Liberia for the first time and other partners of the LCC, and saying that the United States Council of Churches has been involved with activities in Liberia through its relief department, Church World Service (CWS).

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