In Genesis chapter 12, God instructed Abraham to leave his Father’s house, his kindred, to a land where He will show him. This journey took Abraham through many borders, including Egypt and other parts of Asia as we know it today.
The interesting thing about this history is that Abraham was not refused entry by immigration officers or Border Patrol officers. In many cases, he was allowed to just pass through, or stay as long as he wanted. Until he got to where God wanted him to be.
Today, many Christians are against moving to other countries/locations for whatever reasons, be it Greener pastures or not. We often hear Christians say there is no need for one to “waste” his resources moving elsewhere, when they could just invest in their present location. In 2013, a Pastor asked me why I travel round the world (we were not friends on Facebook then so…). He advised that it’s better I start a business with “all the money” I spend traveling.
What he didn’t know was that I had a business registered at that time, but needed tax returns of three (3) years before I could carry out the type of business I wanted to. This is one of the set-backs some businesses face before breaking into the market. So, it was just a waiting game for me then.
He also didn’t know that traveling was not just a hobby, but a learning curve for me. Interacting with people of diverse cultures helped me to better understand the differences that exist in our societies and how to deal with them. The experience gathered from years of traveling influenced my thinking and relationship with people of different backgrounds, and now I can feel at home wherever I find myself in the world.
Eritreans are going through the same conditions faced by the Israelites before Moses was sent to lead them out. Living conditions for the Israelites became unbearable in Egypt and they cried out to God to save them from slavery (Exodus 2:23-25). But then, Pharaoh refused to let them go. Today, Eritreans require exit permits by their government before they are allowed to leave the country. Those who attempt to escape the harsh conditions of the country risk being “disappeared” by the secret police put in place by the government, if caught.
North Korean citizens are not allowed to leave their country, except they are government officials. People caught trying to escape the oppressive regime face horrific punishments, which may include being fed alive to animals, or entire family killed because one person tried to flee the country, sometimes with anti-aircraft machine guns.
The Nigerian economic system has taken a downturn for the worse in the past few years that professionals, and anyone else who can afford to, are leaving the country in droves. On October 22, 2018, Newspaper reports had it that the President of the country was quoted as saying, “if anybody has a country to go, let him go…”.
This was God’s message to Pharaoh in Exodus 5:1 through Moses, when He said, “let my people go…”. Now, if the people had decided to stay back in Egypt because they believe that “things will be better”, or that their slave masters, the Egyptians, would change after elections or when another Pharaoh ascended the throne, their fate would have been worse than it was when they cried out to God.
Abraham would not have become the father of many nations today, including Israel, if he didn’t leave his father’s house, his kindred, to where God destined for him. Maybe he would have been involved in land-grabbing cases with members of his family, especially with his nephew, Lot. But God took him far away, where he was established. He had to lose sight of the shore to discover distant lands. He had to leave his comfort zone, his father’s house, before he could become who he is.
Abraham’s grandson, Jacob (later known as Israel), had to leave his father’s house too, all the way to Padan Aram, before he could become established under his father-in-law.
If there were border controls, Joseph’s family wouldn’t have made it to Egypt to buy food. If borders were tight, the people of Israel would have found it difficult traveling through many cities to Canaan, the promised land.
Jesus Christ himself transversed different borders teaching about love, peace, liberty, unity, among others, while Apostle Paul, who was an avid traveller through land and sea, preached the gospel to people from different nations. These movements across borders helped shape the Christian world as we know it today.
The Christian God is a God of free movement, just as Christ rightly commands that we go “into ALL the world, and preach the gospel to every creature…”(Mark 16:15). We cannot achieve this if we decide to remain in our comfort zones, or if we continue to be a hindrance to those who God has ordained to go into all the world to spread His goodness, either through words or action.
Christians are therefore encouraged to embrace free movement of human capital, goods and services, in our desire for a peaceful and godly society.