The Lord’s invitation to His covenant people is to be “peculiar… above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2). Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have recently spent the last two weeks addressing how members of the Church can be peculiar, above all the nations of the earth. Two specifically addressed the refugee crisis. (See Linda K. Burton and Elder Patrick Kearon.)
There seems to be a blending of two major, but distinct issues. It may be helpful to separate the issues of illegal immigration and the refugee crisis. Nations have the right and obligation to protect their sovereignty. Citizens’ social, economic, and physical well-being should be of utmost concern to leaders of nations. I realize that many in the political sphere are concerned about the sovereignty of the United States. I’m all for reasonably securing our borders and welcoming individuals through accountability.
But the humanitarian concerns should bluntly remind all of us that the Kingdom of God on earth has no geographical boundaries. If there are 60 million refugees in the world and half of them are children, we ought to seriously consider why a mother or a father would undertake to leave their motherland in dire circumstances without any guarantee they, or their children, will survive.
Reflect on the refugee crisis and the movement of people with the back drop of scripture. Nations have been crumbling for thousands of years. Often it is because of wickedness and ungodly rulers. These situations have put people on the move to seek security and peace and to offer their families better chances of a joyful and productive life. Sometimes people migrate because Mother Nature’s abrupt course changes. In some cases people migrate by divine appointment, where the Lord moves people by direct revelation. (For example, Moses and the Children of Israel out of Egypt. Read the Book of Mormon for three other examples.)
As you are aware, not all parts of the Lord’s vineyard (the earth itself) is good ground. Some cruel nations haven’t been subdued yet. They continue to reign with blood and horror. The scriptures contain prophecies and allegories that suggest people in different ages and from all parts of the earth will be scattered from their homeland. Many migrate because of fear and for safety, not knowing the Lord or His purposes. Those receiving them don’t always know the Lord’s purposes as well.
Part of the gathering of the House of Israel seems to be accelerated by the events of unstable nations scattering God’s children throughout the earth. Refugees often end up in nations that allow freedom of worship without any bloody consequences. These nations also allow messengers the opportunity to preach the Savior’s gospel in an individual’s native tongue. These nations, in many instances lets people “worship how, where, or what they may” without infringement (See Articles of Faith, #11). It may be difficult to view or see the blessings these refugees’ obtain. By coming to nations with more tolerance they are provided with greater opportunities to act for themselves.
Those being scattered are suffering. And the Lord’s teachings in the scriptures direct what we are to do in these two circumstances. We are to clothe them, feed them, liberate them and administer relief (see Jacob 2:19). If the Lord remembers those who have been broken off, or uprooted from their mother land—and if He also remembers us in our land of prosperity and peace—shouldn’t we then remember each other?
Perhaps what we are seeing are the early stages of a great gathering prophesied by ancient prophets. Those who refuse to take their swords against their neighbors “must flee unto Zion for safety.” Joseph Smith divinely recorded that those gathered unto the city of Zion would be “out of every nation under heaven” (see D&C 45:68-69). Through kindness and the blessings of the gospel we help each other become a Zion people and build up the city of Zion (see D&C 97:18-21).
The Kingdom of God on earth has no geographical boundaries. This truth should not be forgotten.