The Day I Burned My Green Card


One of my seminary professors was working as a missionary in Zimbabwe when civil war broke out. He and thousands of others fled the bloodshed.

They were stopped at the border. The neighboring country refused to absorb any more refugees.

Trapped between the border guard and encroaching rebel forces, not even the missionaries were allowed in. However, each missionary was given a green card. These cards would allow them entrance if the fighting reached the camp.

One day, while ministering to some refugees, my professor said that he understood their fears. He felt justified saying that—after all, he too had been displaced by the civil war, he too was frightened of the approaching rebels, he too feared a massacre. One older refugee looked at him and said, "You will not know how we feel until you burn your green card."

Our professor's voice grew quiet in the classroom and his head bowed in shame even years afterward. He prayed all night, he said, but he decided not to burn his ...

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