Can We Talk? (Changes coming soon)

Not Easy Questions with No Easy Answers

Month: March 2018 (page 1 of 2)

“I’ll pray for that.”

I had someone tell me that today.

At first I thought it a little odd, but the more I think about it, the more I like the phrase.

“I’ll pray for that.” (I won’t try to understand that I know what God’s got planned.)

“I’ll pray for that.” (I won’t try to understand that I know how to solve your struggles – but I will bring them to God on your behalf.)

“I’ll pray for that.” (I don’t have the answers. But I have a God who does have the answers.)

“I’ll pray for that.” (I haven’t walked in your shoes, but my God knows what you need way better than I do.)

“I’ll pray for that.” (And I will be the kind of friend who stays with you as you walk through the struggles.)

One of the many things I appreciate about our church (Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids) is that they have a practice of not saying, “I’ll pray for you.”

And then going on their way.

They actually stop, right then, right there and pray.

It doesn’t matter whether they are standing in a parking lot, the lobby at church, wherever.

There is a need, they stop and pray.

We don’t have the answers. In many ways, when we pray for specific answers without acknowledging God’s plans are bigger than ours, we’re being quite presumptuous.

So, may we all pray for more of “that.”

And then be prepared to watch what God’s up to.

Because it’s God’s “that” not ours.


A Broken World

Intentionally Remember God’s Goodness 

Immigration–a System in Need of Reform

Last night I told you about a family from my son’s school who got trapped in the immigration struggles and now the Dad is stuck in another country and Mom and kids are here.

Today, I wanted to share some information I found online about how hard it is to actually get through the immigration system.   At the bottom of this post is a link to the article I got the information from.

The first thing we need to look at is a flow chart that outlines the process of getting a green card.   It looks like this:

Immigration Flow Chart

Can you understand it?  I can’t.  Can you imagine how difficult and how long it takes to actually navigate through it?

The second thing I want you to look at is the Family Bulletin showing in February of 2018 the green card applications they are processing for certain countries and the dates that those applications were filed.  There are, I understand, two ways to get a visa – for employment or because you have family here.  


Here’s a listing of what the categories mean:

F1: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens.

F2A: Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents.

F2B: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents.

F3: Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens.

F4: Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens.

So let’s look at some examples of how long it takes:

  • If you are looking to get a green card and you are not married and your parent (one or both) is a US Citizen and you are from Mexico, if you applied for the green card in July of 1996, the application is finally being processed.  That means if you applied for it when you were 10, you are now 32 years old.
  • If you are the married child of a US Citizen looking to come from the Philippines and get a green card, you have waited 23 years since you applied.  So, let’s say that you got married when you were 20, applied when you were 22, you are now 43 years old.   Oh and you and your spouse have since had a couple of children as well.   How do they figure into the time line?

The system is broken.

When a system is broken, people try to find another way to work around the system.   As someone pointed out to me yesterday, the Pilgrims were dealing with a broken system – so they found a way around and just left.

We need to balance the need for legal protections with a system that does not deny the rights and desires (and frankly in many cases needs) of people who want a better life.  Yes, I’m going to mention this – the delays are not necessarily coming for people from Norway who look a lot like the people who currently are the majority in our government.  No, the delays are from countries were people don’t look like the “white majority.”   Yes that makes me uncomfortable to say but unfortunately, I believe it to be true.

The article that much of this information came from can be found at

Even if you apply the Vanderwell Rule of 50% and say that the numbers in that article are vastly overstated, reduce them by 50%.   Is it still legitimate and morally responsible to have people way 12 or 13 years for their application for a green card to be processed (not approved – it might be denied – can you imagine waiting 13 years and then it gets denied?)

Tomorrow (maybe later today), I’ll have a list of resources of people and places you can contact to urge our government to reform immigration and do better than what we have.   Because what we have, as we saw last night, separates families, and that’s not right.


It’s Happening, Right Here, Right Now

Last year, I was substitute teaching at the school my son goes to – Potter’s House – in Grand Rapids. In morning prayers, we were doing prayer requests and one of the girls in the class asked her classmates to pray for a friend of hers who is worried that when her Dad had to go back to the country he was from (I don’t remember the country) that he wasn’t going to be allowed to return, but he had to go back to renew some paperwork (I’m assuming visas or something.)

A number of the other kids in the class nodded and said things like, “Yeah, me too.” It gave me the feeling that this was a much bigger issue for these 8th graders than I thought it might be.

So I pulled up a chair and sat down in front of them and paused and said, “I’ve got a question for you all, how many of you know someone, either close friend or family, who you are worried could be “sent back” by the immigration issues that are currently going on?”

Some hands shot up right away.

Some took a little bit longer.

But eventually 100% of the kids had their hands up.

Every single 8th grader in that class knew someone who was worried about losing a family member due to the changes in immigration enforcement.

You can debate all you want about the technical issues but here’s the way I look at it. There’s a class of early teenagers who are worried that they or someone they know very well could lose a parent (or could have to move to another country) because of the current administration’s desire to get “technical” with the rules.

These are kids who have done nothing wrong. These are families who are contributing members of our community.

And they are worried about things teenagers shouldn’t worry about.

And guess what – it’s happening. I just got notice that one of them had it happen to them.


Their dad was back in “his original country” and went to renew his visa. Not only was his visa denied but he is not allowed to be in the United States for 10 years.

The trauma that this does to a family is truly unthinkable. There is no easy way to deal with the upheaval this causes a family.

My heart aches for this family. We need to find a balance between a legal society and a society that cares about people.

What happened to this family is a tragedy.


Originally posted 2018-03-15 20:03:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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