By Claudia Cruz Martinez
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce…Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:5,7
I have missionary friends who live in Mexico, and none of them have thought about changing their citizenship. They are officially temporary residents. They’ve built houses and planted fruit trees on the properties where they live. Their children study at the schools in their cities. Societal and political problems affect them, even though they are not Mexican. They wish that the cities were safer, that there would be less trash, that the roads would be in better shape, and that there would be less delinquency and corruption. I have never seen them close their eyes to the social problems of this country, and I have never seen them indifferent to its needs. They have always felt like one of us, but they know that Mexico is only their temporary residency. It does not mean that they are anxiously awaiting a chance to return to their countries, but they are certain that God could take them to another country or send them back to their own nation.
God spoke his word through Jeremiah to a people who had been exiled from Jerusalem and taken as captives to Babylon. His advice was that they do everything necessary to live as residents because they would be there for a long time (70 years, according to Jer. 29:10 and Jer. 25:15). On top of that, they should seek peace for Babylon and intercede for the nation, because their own well-being depended on the security of Babylon.
As Christians, we know that we are foreigners on this earth, and that our presence here is temporary. Still, we enjoy life, and make an effort to live in a way that reflects the eternal. We cannot close our eyes to the needs of people around us. We must not be indifferent to caring for creation, since God designed this place for us. We cannot act as if we do not care for the hundreds of missing people, or the countless robberies and murders. We must not be indifferent! If the city is unsafe, we also feel unsafe.
Wherever we live, we must long to see people reconciled to God. Jeremiah’s counsel is for us today as well: we must intercede and seek peace for our city.
*Claudia Cruz serves as the youth pastor in the Betania Church of the Nazarene in Ciudad Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Mexico. She is also the Global Mission Coordinator for the Mexico Field.