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I am not thinking about aliens from another world. Rather I am talking about the aliens in our country. Aliens are foreigners that are working and living amongst us.

Singapore is home to about 1.4 million foreign workers. They make up nearly a quarter of our entire population. They work as domestic helpers, construction workers and manual labourers. They are essential in building and keeping our country functioning.

Yet for the most time, these foreign workers were quite invisible to the average Singaporeans. Perhaps it’s because they are housed in self-contained dormitories away from the plain sight of the general public.

It was not until the “explosion” of Covid-19 infections in the dormitories that the plight of these foreigners is highlighted. Many are shocked to learn of their crowded and filthy living quarters. No wonder the virus could spread so rapidly because there are no way any of them could self-isolate and avoid contact.

Whilst the hearts of many Singaporeans go to these hardworking foreigners living in poor condition yet there are some who showed little sympathy, attributing the spike in numbers to their unhygienic habits even suggesting they should be sent home. Thankfully such xenophobic sentiments were quickly thumped down.

The Bible is very clear about the way we should treat aliens or foreigners in our land. The Lord who saved the people from slavery in Egypt said this to them:

“And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt“ {Deuteronomy 10:19).

The injunction to love means more than just tolerance and co-existence. It implies caring and treating them fairly, justly and kindly.

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt” (Exodus 22:21).

The Lord reminded His people that they once had been under the same predicament. The people of Israel are not to repeat the mistakes of Egypt. Instead they are to love foreigners as themselves.

“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).

Most countries do have laws to protect their own widows and orphans, but the people of God are unique in caring for foreigners as well. The gleaning laws are a poignant example.

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:9-10).

This is an act of social responsibility – not keeping and hoarding everything but leaving what they can spare for the poor and the foreigners.

In the Bible, aliens are not invisible and forgotten people.

We are called to care for them as we ourselves are also “aliens and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

Not forgetting the forefathers of Singapore were migrants that came to make this island their home.

It warms my heart to hear our Prime Minister in a recent address said: “To our migrant workers, let me emphasize again: we will care for you, just like we care for Singaporeans … We will look after your health, your welfare and your livelihood. We will work with your employers to make sure that you get paid, and you can send money home … This is our duty and responsibility to you, and your families.”

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