Elections and the Kingdom 2

Luke 4:18

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

 

The content of the Good news of the kingdom of God is set out in 5 statements.

 

And because we are about to vote in the General Elections in 5 weeks time, I am going to take one  of those statements made by Jesus each week until the Election.

 

Last week we looked at the first “Good news to the poor”; today we turn to the second “release to the captives.”

 

Often when we speak of the captives, we speak on those captive to addictions or lifestyle choices but today I want to focus on another group:  the socially and politically disinherited;

 

Who are socially and politically disinherited? 

 

[feeling worthless – video on rightnowmedia]

 

Several groups come to mind: Refugees, migrants and post-divorce single parents.

 

 

Let’s look at refugees:

 

How do we fare with our acceptance of refugees?

New Zealand has committed to accept 750 refugees per year in its annual quota. This refugee quota has not been raised in nearly 30 years. It was first set at 800 in 1987 but was later reduced. There have also been years when New Zealand has taken less than 750 refugees.

 

How does this compare to other countries? When compared with the rest of the world, New Zealand ranks 90th per capita in resettlement. If you take our wealth into account we drop to an embarrassing 116th in the world. That’s a record none of us can be proud of. Even Australia settles five times as many refugees and asylum seekers on a per capita basis.[1]

 

Think back to the furore earlier in the year when our city was  chosen by the government as the country's seventh resettlement location, even though fewer than 100 people per year from a variety of countries will be settled in the city.

 

The government's decision did not please everyone. There was an outpouring of racist comments on social media towards refugees coming to Southland, but some expressed their willingness to help the new arrivals. Several rural communities such as Winton and Riverton were willing and ready to take refugees.[2]

 

What does the Bible say about the treatment of refugees?

 

Leviticus 19:33 When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. 34 The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

 

Think back to before the Exodus: Jacob and his sons (the 12 tribes of Israel) went to Egypt as refugees from the famine in Canaan.

 

They were accepted and honoured by the Pharoah.

 

Genesis 47:5 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land; let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know that there are capable men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”

 

Later generations of Israelites were reminded that that had been their status and they should afford the same courtesy to refugees to their own land.

 

What is the churches response to refugees, and what should we be expecting the Government to do in relation to refugees?

The second group is related to refugees, but is about people who choose to move to this country.  That group is the migrants.

A net migration gain of 69,100 people occurred in 2015/16, the highest net gain ever recorded, an increase of 19 per cent from previous year,

Over 91,000 international students were approved to study in New Zealand, the third year-on-year increase. China has remained the largest source country of international students (28 per cent) followed by India (22 per cent) and South Korea (5 per cent).

Almost 193,000 people were granted work visas, an increase of 13 per cent from 2014/15. India overtook the United Kingdom to become the largest source country.[3]

10% of people living in Invercargill at the last census had been born overseas.

Yet this country does not have a good record of treating those migrant workers well

Migrant Workers Association spokesperson Anu Kaloti said many migrant workers were underpaid and did not receive any leave. "There have been situations where the employer has provided the employees with so-called accommodation, but the places that they live in are just not fit for humans to live in. They're sort of almost like slaves." Many employers would hire workers under the premise of training and would then let them go after just a few weeks, Ms Kaloti said.[4]

What should we be saying to the Government about immigrants?  What should the response to the immigrants in our midst be?

Exodus 12:49  says that There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”

The immigrant is referred to as the resident alien in some translations of the Old Testament

Jeremiah 22:3  Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.

Are we supportive of the Southland Multicultural Council?  Are we supportive of Jordy and Peihua’s Intercultural church that focuses on Chinese, or Ernie and Lorraine’s Liberty Church that works with Filipinos, or the other churches with other ethnicities?

The Scriptures say there is neither Greek nor Jew, we are all one?  How do we show that?

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 says [God] executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

The other group I want to focus our attention on when we consider those who are the socially and politically disinherited is the post divorce single parent families.

The family income of children whose parents divorce and remain divorced for at least six years falls by 40 to 45 percent. Food consumption is also reduced by 17 percent.[5]

 

The stereotype of a single parent is a Maori sole mother under 20 on Domestic Purposes Benefit with kids to different fathers and lazy to boot. Sole parents are often identified as an economic and social "problem" in political debate and by the media. The truth is that only 3 per cent of sole mothers are under 20 and almost 60 per cent are Pakeha.

 

Statistics New Zealand figures project single parent families to increase from 31 to 38 per cent of all families with dependent children, between 2001 and 2021.

Last week we identified the horrific stats in NZ of child poverty.  The child poverty rate in New Zealand is 16.3 per cent but for children in single parent households this figure increases to 47 per cent.

 

The DPB provides single mothers and their children with a below subsistence level income. In 2004, 60 per cent of single parent families in New Zealand were considered to have low living standards. [6]

 

What do we expect of the government in relation to this group of socially disinherited people in our community?  What is our response as a church to this group of people?

 

We have already touched on some verses which are applicable.

 

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 [God] executes justice for the fatherless and the widow

Jeremiah 22:3  … do no wrong or violence to the … fatherless, and the widow.  

Let me add James 1:27

27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress…

Zechariah 7:10 10 do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor;

And I want to quote from a verse included by the Catholics into their Bible and not included in our Protestant Bible:

2 Esdras 2:20 “Guard the rights of the widow, secure justice for the ward, give to the needy, defend the orphan, clothe the naked, 21 care for the injured and the weak, do not ridicule the lame, protect the maimed, and let the blind have a vision of [God’s] splendor.

All these groups I have mentioned are socially disinherited and disadvantaged.  There are many others.

 

In our contemplation on who to vote for and which party to vote for, I hope you will consider their policies in relation to these groups of people.



[1] http://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends/2014-GlobalTrends-annex-tables.zip

[2] http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/331801/southland-divided-over-incoming-refugees

[3] http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/immigration/migration-research-and-evaluation/trends-and-outlook/2015-16

[4] http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/292661/abuse-of-young-and-migrant-workers-uncovered

[5] http://www.nber.org/digest/jul02/w8786.html

[6] http://www.cpag.org.nz/assets/Articles/Social%20stigma.pdf