Successful Immigration

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“So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.” Ruth 4:13


Immigration has been a way of life from time immemorial. Humans have been wanderers of the earth throughout their history. Nomads due to famine, food shortages and safety, and the ability to live and sustain life has often required this migration. As the world has populated, the ability to migrate has become much more problematic, yet still occurs throughout as some areas are especially more inhospitable than others for a variety of reasons, geographical and political. 

As wars have flared and the cruelty of man upon his fellow man has grown demonstrably worse again, immigration has ballooned once more into a world-wide cataclysm. The motivation to migrate appears to center on three primary factors: safety, the possibility of living in peace and under the order of law; and economic sustainability, the ability to earn or receive a living. The third concerns religious liberty, the freedom to worship as one pleases without fear of persecution. Consequently, migration is toward more prosperous economic environments where migration is allowed, and toward those countries where the rule of law is practiced justly to the benefit of the most, including religious liberty.

So what ought to be the thought and practice of Christians whose authority is the Bible with a desire to please God with their lives?  This is an issue over which there is great controversy and variety of opinion, but one to which the Bible speaks and enjoins faithful Christians to be obedient to God’s will. One of the most famous immigrants in the Bible is Ruth, who has a whole book of the Old Testament named for her and her story. In fact, a whole people, the people of God, known as Israel, were immigrants who sojourned for centuries in Egypt before returning to a land previously gifted to them by God.

Ruth, was a woman of Moabite nationality. She had married a man of Israel who had migrated to Moab with his parents and brother. Subsequently, her father-in-law, husband and brother-in-law died. Ruth, swearing allegiance to her mother-in-law and to her God returned to Israel along with her, becoming herself a migrant in a foreign land. Her migration was quite successful, as she married a Jewish man, and through her marriage became the great grandmother of King David. Most importantly, Ruth became an ardent follower of the God of Israel. This was true of her before she married Boaz, being evangelized and discipled by Naomi, her mother-in-law. Read again the four chapters of the Book of Ruth and learn from it.

The principles of a successful immigrant taught in this story may not and do not attend the immigration of many migrants, but there are some universal and biblical principles of successful immigration which can be learned from Ruth’s story. One of the most important is the principle of assimilation into the host nation. Some native characteristics are not necessary to change, but others will make the immigration successful, and if not pursued will likely cause it to fail. God makes it clear that the Israelites are to love the sojourner, receiving them as neighbors worthy of loving, and loving them as themselves. However, there are responsibilities placed upon the immigrant too. Some are, adoption of the just laws of a new home, the ability to converse with new neighbors, learning their language. If the immigrant has chosen to move to a new land, there is a responsibility to assimilate in such a way as to be a good neighbor: speaking the same language is key.

The immigrant must respect the laws of his adopted land and not aggravate for the overthrow of a just host government. This is simply following biblical principles found in God’s Word, to be good neighbors. They can keep their same food choices, same familiar culture and music, but being a good neighbor is critical to success and happiness in a new home. Isolation is never encouraged in God’s Word, unless it is to isolate one self from sinful practices of the world. Ruth and Boaz strictly followed the traditions and practices of Israel, ensuring that nothing disreputable could be said of them by the new countrymen of Ruth. 

The difficulty of Muslim assimilation into a majority Christian culture will arise from an unwillingness to curtail some of the religious teaching of Islam, such as that all other religious followers are considered infidels, ones you can in the words of the Quran  “rightfully” kill; any advocating for the overthrow of national laws and constitutional system; not raising up or pursuing a competing system of laws in place of constitutional law, such as what is known as Sharia law. Of course, the Christian does not accept any ultimate authority other than the Bible, which is consistent with the Constitution of the United States. But assimilation of Muslims will never be successful when there is an advocation of Islamic government that must replace this host country’s duly established government.

Our country is a nation of diversity, but the diversity is never adverse to the government of the land or to maintaining good order and discipline in the society. There is no room for such adversity in any harmonious society, as well as there is no room for prejudice or racism. It is an evil requiring constant vigilance to root out. But forcing a new system of laws upon an established government is a non-starter.

God has called the believer to seek peace and pursue it, until the King of Peace comes and establishes an eternal peace based on truth. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The pursuit and sustaining of peace never requires truth to be compromised. But we, believers and citizens, look forward to a City, a country, with foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Until then we obey Him and strive for peace with our neighbors as frustrating and irritating as that can be. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.


“Great King of nations, hear our prayer, while at your feet we fall, and humbly, with united cry, to you for mercy call.”

“With one consent we meekly bow beneath your chastening hand, and, pouring forth confession meet, mourn with our mourning land.”

(1st and 5th verse of John Gurney’s hymn, “Great King of Nations, Hear Our Prayer,” 1838)

Stephen Leonard

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