I came across a story in my scripture study this morning that caused me to reflect on what is happening in our nation today. The Prophet Alma heard that the Zoramites were “perverting the ways of the Lord” (Alma 31:1). The Zoramites had previously been members of the Church of Jesus Christ but had fallen away. Alma took his trusted missionary companion (Amulek), three of his best buddies (Ammon, Aaron, and Omner), and two of his sons (Shiblon and Corianton) and went to teach the truth to the Zoramites.
The missionaries had success with the poorer class of people. Alma taught them about humility, prayer, scripture study, repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, mercy, and other gospel principles. Many of them believed the teachings of Alma and were converted. However, the elites of the city were upset and cast the poor people out of the land of Zoram.
The poor people traveled to the land of Jershon that was inhabited by the people of Ammon. There Alma and the missionaries continued to minister unto them, and the people of Ammon received “all the poor of the Zoramites that came over unto them; and they did nourish them, and did clothe them, and did give unto them lands for their inheritance; and they did administer unto them according to their wants” (Alma 35:9).
Zoramites were upset with the people of Ammon and threatened them. The people of Ammon paid no heed to them and continued to minister and administer to the poor. However, the Zoramites just could not let it go. They mixed with the Lamanites and stirred the Lamanites up to anger and caused war between the Nephites and the Lamanites.
The reaction of the Zoramite elite is a story for another day. Today I want to discuss the behavior of the people of Ammon and how it compares to my own words and actions. The people of Ammon immediately took in all the poor of the Zoramites without question and gave them food, clothes, and even “lands for their inheritance.” They had compassion on the refugees and ministered to them.
The poor of the Zoramites are not the only refugees in the world. There are more than 60 million refugees in the world today. They have been persecuted, experienced violence of all kinds, and saw their families threatened and/or destroyed. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have issued calls for governments to do more to help the refugees. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Governments today are not responding to the refugee problem urgently enough, nor on a large enough scale.” He also said, “We need to encourage local citizens to welcome (refugees) into their everyday lives.”
As I pondered and reflected on the difference between the response of the people of Ammon and my response to the people coming to the United States and claiming asylum, I wondered what caused it. Why am I not able to open my heart and home to welcome the refugees of my day as the people of Ammon did with the poor Zoramites?
I began to rationalize. The people of Ammon were welcoming a group of people who had recently been converted to their same church. They were welcoming people who had made the same covenants. Most of the refugees coming into the United States are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ, and thousands, if not millions, of them do not even believe in the same God as I do.
The Zoramite poor people were cast out of their land; therefore, they could not stay in their homes and attempt to make a better life. They were forced to go somewhere else. Most of the people coming across our southern border come by their own free will. They were not forced to leave their homes, but they were searching for a better life for themselves and their families. No one should be condemned for wanting to create a better life, but they should respect the laws of all nations, particularly the one that they want to enter.
The poor people of the Zoramites must have assimilated into the main body of Nephites because we hear no more about them as a distinct group of people. I believe that it is safe to say that they willingly supported the Nephites and may have even fought against the Zoramites and Lamanites who came to destroy them and their new friends.
Many, if not most, of the millions of “refugees” coming to the United States do not want to assimilate, and some of them do not bother to learn the English language. They maintain their separate groups and speak their separate languages. Some even want to change the laws of America to the laws of the nations from which they come. It seems that they desire to make the United States into the type of nations from which they “escaped” rather than assimilate and make the United States a better and stronger nation. It seems that they are here to take advantage of what we have worked and sacrificed to build but are unwilling to help us continue to become even stronger and better.
Each government of the world has the right to maintain its own sovereignty and borders. Yet, each one also has responsibility to rescue refugees from other nations, and Elder Holland says that they need to do more. However, no government needs to -- or should -- take in more refugees than it can handle appropriately and still meet the needs of its own people. The main responsibility of each government is to meet the safety and security needs of its own citizens.
The challenge for me is that I, along with all other Christians, am charged with treating all people as I would like to be treated, or as I would treat the Savior. Even though the “refugees” of our day may not be the same caliber of people as the converted Zoramites, they are still children of the same Heavenly Father and my brothers and sisters.
I am charged with the responsibility to treat all people as the Savior would treat
them. It should not matter to me whether they assimilate, learn the language, belong to the same Church, or even learn to love my country. My responsibility is to care for them in the best way that I can. If they do not deserve kind and loving treatment but seek to take advantage of those offering it, they will be held accountable by God. In the end, they will get what they deserve, whether it is good or evil – just as all of us will.