Migrant Memories

It was more than 60 years ago that I arrived in Australia as a three and a half year old with my parents. My family were escaping from the shortage of jobs and accommodation and were looking for new opportunities. They said goodbye to a cramped attic but also to family – many of whom we would never see again.

It is now 2016 and I am meeting a new set of migrants through a course that I am doing in ESL teaching. The nationalities may be different but many of the stories are the same.  War, a lack of work and a desire for a future  are pushing people to explore new opportunities.

One man, we will call him Ahmed, had to wait for many years until his wife and children could join him. His excitement was uncontainable when they arrived. His eyes glistening with tears of joy and his undimmable smile said it all and more. There is a lady who never had an opportunity for schooling in her own country who is now, as a middle aged woman, exploring education for the first time. The going is tough but she is strong.

For the teacher the going is also tough too. The increments in learning are not big steps but usually small victories. There are the ‘aha’ moments. “Ah! That is what ‘opposite’ means!” There are the struggles with English words  that have multiple meanings. When given instructions “to go past,” verb tenses (yesterday) and assessments (passed) came to mind before the idea of moving from one place to another past the one in the middle.

Language is a means by which we can understand and love our neighbour. What a wonderful gift this is which we can give those fleeing danger and come here and must grapple with a new culture.

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One thought on “Migrant Memories

  1. Dear Pieter,
    I hope you remember me, (Leon Kolberg) I am 85 years old now.
    I like to share with you “A memorable moment”
    This is what salvation is all about.

    God with us

    A Memorable Moment

    Rev. Ross Prout

    The crucifixion scene is memorable for many reasons, but for me, the incident recorded in Luke 23:39-43 is especially significant. Luke tells us that one of the thieves reproached Jesus, and appealed to Him to save Himself and them. The other thief rebuked the first, pointing to their justifiable punishment as against Jesus’ innocence. This thief appeals for Jesus to remember him when He comes in His Kingdom. Jesus’ answer is amongst the most precious of the sayings of the Lord recorded in the Gospels, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

    This saying is so important for a number of reasons. As Russell Bradley Jones points out in his book, “Gold From Golgotha”, it under­mines any sacramental ideas for a start. The thief was saved without recourse to baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Church, ceremony, or good works of any kind. This keeps much of our Church practice in perspective. None of it is essential to salvation.

    Again, it is clear that this sinner did nothing to personally expiate a single sin, yet the Lord promised him that he would be granted entry into Heaven immediately after his death. There is no room for purgatory here.

    Universalism is also refuted as only one was saved of all those who might have been saved. His focus is on the individual sinner who had appealed to Him. The notion of soul sleep is also dealt a blow, for the clear implication of the whole incident is that the redeemed thief would be in conscious fellowship with his Saviour in Heaven. In short, this incident underlines the fact that salvation is “by grace through faith”; it is “the gift of God”. And the rewards of eternity for those who have been saved are immediate.

    The reproachful thief had expressed faith of a sort, but his appeal had the aim of self-preservation. Russell Bradley Jones suggests that it paralleled the efforts of Satan to divert Jesus from His course. The repentant thief expressed a remarkable faith, for he believed that the crucifixion of Jesus was not the end of the story; that He was yet going to triumph.

    The appeal he made had little knowledge behind it, but Jesus heard it, and understood this man’s heart. Clearly, he wanted to be saved, not necessarily from his execution, but from his sin. As Russell Bradley Jones said, “He may not have understood the nature of Christ’s Kingdom, but he wanted the goodwill of the King and was willing to yield his allegiance.

    That pleased Jesus.” The tense of the Greek verb here suggests a persistent appeal to Jesus; that he kept asking until he got an answer.

    And what an answer it was! “Today,” said Jesus; there is nothing of a forlorn future hope here. “You will be with Me,”, He said. And Jesus means not for a while, but for as long as He is, for eternity. Here is a statement that comes to the heart of salvation. It is union with Christ. To be saved is to come into vital relationship with a Person – Jesus Christ.

    The thief asked to be remembered in the coming Kingdom. Jesus gave the Paradise that then was, in terms he would have readily understood according to rabbinical teaching. But what really hits home here is that His response to this thief reveals that “there is none so low or vile as to be denied the glories of this salvation. The only condition is repentance and faith ….With Jesus, there are no hopeless cases”.

    This Easter, I am sure we will all remember with gratitude that memorable moment in our lives when Jesus’ promise of eternal salvation became our hope and joy.

    Rev. Ross Prout

    New Life, 9 April 1998

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