I grew up in and still live in Fairfax County, Virginia, just forty-five minutes from our nation’s capital. It took me until recently to realize how privileged I am to live in an area as nice as it is here. No houses are more than half a century old, most of the shopping centers are brand new, and if any building shows any signs of wear and tear, it’s deemed as “sketchy”. Prior to this realization, though, I was completely blind to the fact that thousands of parents in this nation struggle to provide food for themselves and their kids, and that some people barely get by to make ends meet. I assumed everyone had it as well as I did.
Shortly after the election of 2016, I became heavily involved in politics. Specifically conservative, right-wing politics. Yeah, I was pretty much what’s popping into your mind right now: I owned the libs, I wore a Make America Great Again hat, I went on comment wars on Facebook and Twitter, you name it. But among all of these things, I would now, after my regeneration, call sinful, one of them drives me the most insane to this day: I wanted all undocumented immigrants (who, at the time, I would have called “illegals”) to be deported, and if they wanted to stay, they could’ve come here legally. However, in the summer of 2018, I fell into peer pressure and signed up for a missions trip to Dayton, Ohio, for a week with a group of kids from my youth group at Immanuel Bible Church located in Springfield, Virginia.
All I knew about the trip prior to it was that we were going to evangelize to refugee children from various parts of Africa via hosting a Vacation Bible School at a local Presbyterian church. I had two biases prior to this trip: to me, refugees went against my political opinions, and I didn’t like children. It wasn’t the most ideal combination. During the first and second days of Vacation Bible School, not going to lie, the kids were a handful, which did not help things. However, day three was when things really began to change. A little girl, probably five or six years old at the time, got overwhelmed by the number of other kids during worship and storytime. I was informed to take the girl downstairs to the room we had the kids eat their snacks to entertain her, and a few of my friends and I fed her some snacks and played with her for a while until all the kids went to play outside. Then, I hopped into one of the vans with the kids to take them home. I had not traveled in the vans with the kids to take them home prior to the third day, so I never really got to see their living conditions. Once I saw them, however, things started going through my head. Things like how rough it must have been for the families to travel there from across the Atlantic, all the wat to a rough town in Ohio, yet being able to raise a family with smiles on their faces.
Then, on the day we traveled back to Northern Virginia, our almighty God did something that no amount of human reason or intellect could ever do in my then-sixteen years of life: He gave me a new heart. We drove two vans to and from Dayton, and it was during that ride that our leader played a sermon by Pastor Alistair Begg, and I loved it more than any other sermon I had heard for a reason I could not explain at the time, even though it was just like the Sunday morning sermons I grew up listening to and tuned out. It took about half a year of sanctification for me to hang the cape of American conservatism and embrace, what The Immigration Coalition likes to refer to it as, political homelessness.
Ever since then, I have lovingly defended the Biblical truth that loving Refugees is a divine command, not a political opinion (Deut. 10:19, Lev. 19:34, Ps. 146:9). I want all my Christian peers to know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not only for the white American, but also for the Latinos escaping trouble at home, the African fighting to raise their family without fear, and for anyone else who is seeking refuge.
By Matt Morris
Matt is a senior in high school based in Fairfax Station, Virginia. He takes classes through Liberty University’s online program and plans on attending Liberty University for his degree in divinity starting fall 2020.