A Christian Response to Xenophobia (16 April 2015)

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"You shall neither mistreat a stranger, nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." Exodus 22:21

Murderous Mobs

Two Ethiopians were petrol bombed and five people murdered in a wave of xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in KwaMashu and Umlazi in KwaZulu over the last 2 weeks.

"Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets." Psalm 55:11

Jobs for Us - Not for You!

Local people have attacked immigrants from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Angola, Nigeria, Somalia, Congo and Mozambique. "Because the foreigners are taking away our jobs!" Statistics South Africa Quarterly Labour Force Survey reports that officially 4.6 million South Africans are unemployed, 25% of the workforce. However, realistically they stated that 36.7% are actually unemployed in South Africa.

Fleeing Oppression

Zimbabweans point out that the reason why over half of the population of Zimbabwe have fled their country is because of the oppression of Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF regime, which is supported by the South African government. "The solution is to stop supporting the tyrant Mugabe who is destroying our country and we will return to our homes and farms in Zimbabwe."

Instability Fuels Xenophobia

The unprecedented influx of Zimbabweans running away from the collapse of their country has placed greater strain on South Africa, which has received most of these displaced people. Instability in Zimbabwe has led to greater social pressures and tensions in South Africa. The Human Science Research Council estimates illegal (undocumented) foreigners in South Africa as between 5 to 10 million.

Positive Influence

A major solution to the fierce competition for jobs and services in South Africa would be to help re-establish stability and freedom North of the border. In this age of globalisation, the ripple effects of instability in one country affects its neighbours.

Dictatorships Produce Refugees

The violence, insecurity of property and oppression in the Congo, Angola and other parts of Africa, fuels the flood of refugees and immigrants pouring into South Africa and placing ever-increasing strain on the limited infrastructure, resources and job market.

"They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity…"2 Peter 2:19

The Only Solution

Only Biblical Christianity offers a rational basis for opposing racism and xenophobia, and for pursuing justice. Equality before the law is a Biblical principle. "The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the Lord. The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you." Numbers 15:15-16

"Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor, or favouritism to the rich, but judge your neighbour fairly."Leviticus 19:15

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of Reconciliation: That God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ… and He has committed to us the message of Reconciliation."2 Corinthians 5:17-19

"For He Himself is our peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility."Ephesians 2:14

Love in Action

Christians are commanded to love the foreigners and aliens in our midst, to love our neighbour, to be good Samaritans and do to others what we would want them to do to us.

Who is My Neighbour?

When Jesus was challenged by a potentially xenophobic question: Who is my neighbour? Our Lord specifically chose a Samaritan, who was a foreigner, despised by the Jews of his day, as an example (Luke 10:29-37).

The people of Israel were commanded to treat foreigners with kindness, because they themselves were once foreigners in Egypt (Exodus 22:21). When King Herod sought to kill the infant Jesus, Mary and Joseph fled with Him to Egypt.

Christian Response

The Christian response to Xenophobia is to love our neighbour as ourselves, to do to them as we would want to be done unto ourselves, which means not only opening our church doors to minister to foreigners in our community, but working to help them establish freedom and justice in their own lands, so that they will be able to return to their homes with hope for the future.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… love your neighbour as yourself."Mark 12:30-31

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Dr. Peter Hammond is a Missionary, Bible Teacher and Author. Tel: 021-689-4480; Christian Action Network, E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , Web: www.christianaction.org.za

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa info@christianaction.org.za - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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