I was so surprised at the question, I could only stare at the Customs and Immigration officer.
For twenty years I’d been traveling back and forth from Calgary to the States to visit family, and never once had anyone asked me that question. My United States passport had always allowed me to cross borders before. Now things were changing, she explained, and I should become a Canadian citizen.
In 1985 when I moved to Calgary, dual citizenship was not allowed by the U.S. Apparently, though, this was no longer the case. Never one to take someone else’s word for it, I wrote a letter to the U.S. Consulate in Calgary. He assured me that as long as I had no intention of disloyalty, I would retain my American citizenship if I became Canadian.
The scriptures mention spiritual citizens: all who trust in the payment for our sins by the innocent son of God have a heavenly citizenship. It is a good exercise for me to think about issues of nationality from both political and spiritual perspectives:
- The personalized letter from the U.S. Consulate mentioned loyalty. Whose laws do I obey, and of what kingdom am I a servant? I can be governed by my family’s and friends’ moral philosophies or the teachings of the “experts”. But I do well to daily remind myself of the timeless, reliable principles of my spiritual country as found in the Bible, which include daily personalized communication with the king.
- More than a year before the citizenship exam I was given a study booklet, but it sat unopened until a month before the test. My Bible is a study guide for living my life, and I would be better off to learn from it consistently, rather than only reach for it during a crisis.
- Part of the application process for citizenship involves having a guarantor who has known me for many years, who will testify that what I wrote was true and my photo is actually me. I wonder, when I am standing before him, if God will ask the people I know to vouch for me, and guarantee that I am the kind of person I claimed to be, and that I lived the faith I wrote about.
- What “passport” will I present to enter my spiritual country? Teaching Sunday school, leading Bible studies and serving food to the homeless will not be enough, and I’ll be asked about my birth. I’ll explain that I was physically born in Colorado, but fifteen years later, I was spiritually born at a Campus Life meeting as I prayed a prayer of faith in Jesus, and by that I was adopted into God’s family.
In January 2008, I became a Canadian citizen (and just got my passport a week ago!). So maybe I can say that I am not just a dual-citizen, but a triple-citizen!
Posted by Ramona Heikel