I have often looked to politicians to fulfil my desire for a light-hearted chuckle. A few days ago, as I was reading an article outlining the current US political campaign of Donald Trump titled 'The Great Wall of America', I thought I was in for another blithesome belly wobble.
A few paragraphs in I realised my thoughts were misled as my hope for a light-hearted chuckle was met with disappointment at the reality of such a proposition, soon turning to an anger at the enthusiastic statistics in favour of this Great Wall between Southern USA and Mexico.
A World of Walls
While Donald Trump was doing his best to ensure his voters of the possibility of a 'Great, Great Wall' in southern Texas by comparing it with the ancient Great Wall of China, I found myself doing some comparisons of my own as I reflected on a wall I had visited not so long ago.
One of the most challenging encounters of my travels was learning of the devastating situation between Israel and Palestine. On one side of a wall sits Israel—a country formed by an empathetic United Nations who agreed the people of Jewish decent deserved a land to call their home.
On the other side of the wall is Palestine or the West Bank as it is officially known. Palestine is an area under the occupancy of Israel—though separated from Israel by a concrete wall put in place to segregate people who formerly had access to education, healthcare and worship throughout the land now known as Israel—and whose descendants vary in ethnicity and religion.
To say the wall between Israel and Palestine is complex would be a catastrophic understatement. I am the first to confess that the short time I spent visiting the wall and learning of its application does not credit me worthy of professing any righteous claim about it. However, my time there has led me to continue to challenge any form of segregation, or any means where taking the easy road may separate us from other people groups—both nationally and internationally.
New Zealand's invisible wall
My country is about as far away from the rest of the world as is possible. We have a wall nestled with sharks and strong currents that stretches for thousands of miles. For many years we have used this wall as a means to reduce the impact those outside can have on our country.
We can be as separated from the world as we choose without even needing to surround ourselves with a 'Great, Great Wall'. The discussion I hope this article will raise among fellow Christians hoping for Christ's Kingdom to come here and now is:
How much shall we separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters outside our wall?
Is there room in our little inn? God began His life on earth in a most helpless state: a baby born into a displaced (and later, refugee) family after having escaped the hardships of their homeland.
We see His mother and father in desperate need of shelter, but there is no room in the inn. Each time I read this I feel somewhat spiteful toward the owner of the inn who refused my Lord the comfort of a room, pitying Jesus and his family only enough to allow Him to enter this world as the inn keeper would his animals.
Fortunately, the opportunity to worship God by providing for was not a one-time chance. He offers the same opportunity to us today—through the millions pleading for the shelter and protection of our walls.
Tearing down our walls
For nearly 30 years New Zealand's wall has held strong, allowing just 750 refugees to settle into our society each year.
Our wall has been built firmly on the foundation that we must protect what is ours. But this entitlement is not founded on the words of Jesus who asks the rich man to be willing to give up all that is rightful only to God, and follow him.
New Zealand's wall is also complex. Though Christ's calling is clear, how we follow it requires much conversation and wisdom.
As discussions around increasing New Zealand's quota of refugees builds we must acknowledge we cannot stop at simply tearing down this wall. Christ's call goes far beyond that. For there are walls inside our hearts that must be torn down and practices that must be put in place to follow Christ's call for justice on earth.
My hope for Christ's Kingdom is my strength. It is a vision of a world without walls of separation that establish cause for doctrines of entitlement, prideful nationalism and notions of hatred.
Christ's invitation to be a part of this Kingdom by welcoming those in need into our homes, while allowing Him to take on the burdens of fear of the unknown, is the most exciting invitation I will ever receive.
It is this invitation that has led to an exciting adventure where my fiancée and I have begun a charitable trust called Refuge at Work where we aim to empower and up-skill former refugees into employment in my homeland.
The bricks are in our hands
My anger at Donald Trump's boast for building a great wall has turned to pity. I am saddened that he has not yet accepted his invitation to Christ's glorious Kingdom where the US embrace the Mexican people as they claim to embrace Jesus.
But I am thankful that Trump, like any other politician, is just one person. He is not responsible for bringing God's Kingdom on earth—we are. As we stand united by the vision that Christ brings, we can start to tear down these walls together, brick by brick. Will you join me?
Sam is currently living in Auckland, New Zealand working as a carpenter while starting up his own social enterprise to assist refugees into employment.
Sam's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sam-rillstone.html