There was an Immigration Minister in a certain city who didn’t care about anything beyond “stop the boats”, and let abuse continue on his watch. Refugee advocates came to him repeatedly, saying, “Close the camps! Bring them here! Let them stay!” The Minister ignored them for awhile, but finally he said to himself, “I don’t fear the Greens or care about what the Loony Left think, but these advocates are driving me crazy. I’m going to see refugees get justice, because these advocates are wearing me out with their constant requests!”
This little story is based on a story Jesus once told. (Loosely based. Very loosely.) When I was thinking about what I could do this year to help asylum seekers and refugees in detention, and how I could best engage with the powers-that-be, it sprang to mind. Here’s how the original goes:
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:1-8, NLT)
Leaving aside for the moment that sometimes I do wonder if God is actually going to give justice, I can see a few parallels between the situation our asylum seekers are in, and this story. I am using this parable for inspiration on two levels:
- The inspiration to persist in asking for change.
The widow wore the unjust judge out. She made a pest of herself. She didn’t change the character of the judge – he never pretended to care about God or people – but she did change his decision, through her persistence. Justice did win the day.
There are so many of us who have good points to make about the detention situation, both on social media and to our friends – but how often do we take those to the politicians? What would happen if for every comment we made on social media about the offshore detention situation, we also sent it to the Immigration Minister here or the Prime Minister here? Or if not every comment, once a day we sent a brief Tweet or email? Once a day, every day of the year, multiplied by every advocate you know. Polite comments. But firm comments. That would be immense pressure. So my plan is to be one of those voices that persists in speaking to the government, asking for change, letting them know that the public eye is on them, and we want justice.
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. Martin Luther King
- The inspiration to persist in prayer.
Even though I have lots of questions and some doubts, I am still a follower of Jesus, and his main point was about pestering God for justice. Now why it hasn’t already happened, I do not know. I cannot answer that question. Nor am I going to attempt to right now – I’m ok with accepting that it hasn’t happened yet, and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Jesus this song you wrote
The words are sticking in my throat
Peace on earth. U2, ‘Peace on Earth’.
So with those words sticking in my throat, my plan is to persist in asking God for justice in this situation. Will it happen? I do not know. That’s what faith is – not having certainty, but trying anyway. Is it pointless? Maybe, but maybe not. I think in this case it’s better to try and fail than to not try. At this point there’s not much to lose.
This year, may we wear out our welcome, and see justice come about through persistence.