Monday, September 5, 2011

The Bible, Immigration and Globalisation Part IV

It has been a while since my last entry, and now, my first time blogging from London, Ontario in Canada. I recently arrived to pursue PhD studies. As such, I have been taking in an entire new world and with it a new understanding of the familiar scriptures.

I now see the Bible as a book that immigrants can connect with. This for me provides a secondary explanation as to why the European American settlers were so devouted to the Christian or Jewish faith and the Bible. Apart from migrating for religious persecution, they were better able to connect with the patriarchs, all of whom were immigrants, with the promise of settling in a promised land. Which immigrant cannot connect with the experience of going into the unknown and being separated from family members and ties and the familiar, then going to a foreign land to face struggles alone and hoping that they had some familiarity around them. Even someone who knew them in a previous life to encourage them and help them adjust.

I am now in Canada, as an immigrant with the mission of studying Library and Information Science. Thanks to G-d for working all things out.

However, being alone, I can only remember Jacob, who left his family to migrate. Secondly, as this is my second night without a bed (I do have a “bed” of sorts, if you count my towels, sheets and plastic bags). This experience therefore helps me to connect with Jacob, who also had a bed of rocks (Genesis 28:11), which he later named Bethel (Genesis 28:18-19). How I hope that my house where I lay will be my Bethel.

Bethel was the place where Jacob met and encountered G-d. It is at Bethel that God reaveled to Jacob  divine purpose and the vision for his life (Genesis 28:11-14). It was also at Bethel that G-d made Jacob to know that G-d's presence was with him (Genesis 28:15).

This was important, because Jacob was to experience 14 years of hardship, for which G-d's revelation would be of comfort and good cheer. That revelation was perhaps the hope that Jacob clinged to in order to overcome the realities of his present hardships.

In fact, Jacob's experience of being physically separated from family members can only be paralleled to Joseph. I can also connect with the experience, being physically separated from wife and daughters and parents and siblings.

However, like Joseph's experience, I know G-d means it for good, and that by going ahead, I can prepare the way for spouse and children so that they can experience London Ontario in a more comfortable way than I have. In fact, I know not how my experiences in Canada, will in the future help my family: parents, siblings, spouse or children.

However, of one thing I am sure, that G-d has purpose for anyone who will be willing for him to use them. Any immigrant, regardless of the your occupation or status in life, can experience G-d's presence and revelation. This was demonstrated in the experience of Hagar, a maid/servant girl, who also had that experience.

Hagar, when ordered to migrate by her master and mistress (Genesis 21:14), now became a single mother immigrant with a boy child,  Abraham's son Ishmael. Despite the fact, she called upon Abraham's G-d, and cried out for her son and herself (Genesis 21:16), as she could not imagine how they were going to make it through life on their own in areas unknown. No familiarity, no one around to help them.

And G-d answered her (Genesis 21:17-19), thereby showing that he will help anyone who calls out for him and express their need. It is thereby reassuring that as an immigrant, that the G-d of the Bible is a G-d who helps immigrants.

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