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By Mike Rasavanh

I could never forget Easter Sunday of 1979 because that is the day I finally and fully understood how much God loves me through His Son, Jesus Christ. My family came to the United States as refugees in1975. We began attending First Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines, Iowa, the following year. In 1982 my father, mother, younger sister, and I were all baptized.

As refugees we felt so privileged, honored, and blessed to be given the opportunity to come to the USA. This country has given us not just the opportunity to live our dreams and to find peace, prosperity, and freedom, but also a true sense of belonging and the realization of the real reason why God brought us here.

Seeing people protesting, rioting, and desecrating and burning the American flag saddens me, for in my heart I know that America is not anti-refugees, anti-immigrants, nor anti-religions, but surely and rightfully anti-terrorists! I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment because coming to America is not a right but a privilege!

The Bible tells us, “But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NKJV). The prerequisite of becoming citizens of heaven (becoming children of God) is obvious: one must receive Jesus and believe in His name. There’s just no other way around it. As children of God (citizens of heaven) our lives must also reflect who we are in Christ; otherwise, we’ll lose that right (Matthew 7:21-23). Likewise, our earthly citizenship requires us to live in harmony with the country in which we live and to which we belong.

Our family was granted US citizenship in 1982, the same year we were baptized. I can still remember the joy in my father’s face as he smiled and proudly proclaimed, “Iowa is now our home!”

Our dad taught us children not to take anything for granted in this country. Like Christ, who forsook His heavenly home so that we could have everlasting life, my dad made a sacrifice and painful decision not once but twice to leave his homeland behind (in 1954 and 1975) so that we could have a better life. He taught us to always be grateful and loyal and to do our best to be productive citizens of this great nation called the United States of America.

Mike and Dara Rasavanh

Mike and Dara Rasavanh

Mike Rasavanh and his wife, Dara, both former refugees, pastored Lifesong Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines, Iowa. In the fall of 2017, the couple will return to their homeland in Asia to serve as Open Bible missionaries.

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