Welcoming the stranger

Blogger Mark Kadel

Today we will examine the Christian church’s compassionate and informed role as we “Welcome the Stranger” to our land.

How is the issue of immigration affecting the church?
Demographers tell us that immigrant churches are the fastest growing segment of evangelical churches in the U.S. In fact, some researchers predict the immigrant and ethnic church will be the largest evangelical body of believers in the U.S. by 2025.  Increasingly, when we talk disparagingly about “those people,” we are talking about ourselves because the Church is one body of which each of us is an interdependent part. When one part suffers, as many undocumented brothers and sisters do, every part suffers (1 Cor 12:12-26).

What should our church do?
I suggest several steps:

  • Prayer — for wisdom as your church engages with this issue, for immigrants in your community, and for your political leaders
  • Listening — to immigrant brothers and sisters’ experiences, as well as to what the Bible has to teach us about how to interact with the foreign-born.
  • Education — help others in your congregation to understand the issue. Some churches have dedicated a sermon or Sunday school class to the topic, or created opportunities for interaction between immigrants and non-immigrants within the church
  • Advocacy — your legislators need to hear the moral voice of churches and their leaders. Some churches have created or signed a statement in support of immigration reform. Others have visited, written to, or called their legislators to share their opinion.  Most white evangelicals regret the way that, for the most part, we sat out on the Civil Rights Movement, leaving our African-American brothers and sisters on their own as they struggled for what we now readily affirm was biblically-mandated justice.  This time around, we have the chance to stand with our Latino, Asian, Mid-Eastern and African brothers and sisters as they struggle to start their lives over again in a country that prides itself in being a land of opportunity.
  • Evangelism — While many immigrants bring a vibrant faith with them, others will encounter the transformative message of the gospel for the first time in the U.S.  Immigration provides a missional opportunity to make disciples of all nations—right on our doorstep.
  • Invite a Speaker — World Relief would be happy to send a speaker to your church, Sunday school, cell or growth group, women’s or men’s meeting, or a mission club to talk about immigration issues and the biblical response.
  • Become involved — World Relief Spokane has a volunteer program that provides cultural orientation, training and tools to empower the local church to serve the most vulnerable.  If this message pricks your heart a little, makes you think you should maybe be a little more neighborly, or just excites you with possibilities, check out our website at http://worldreliefspokane.org   nd click on the “Get Involved” tab for a list of ways you can become an advocate for the vulnerable.

Thank you again for looking into the issue of immigration with me these past four weeks.  I realize there is much, much more on this subject that we could explore and many more scriptures that talk about welcoming the stranger and a lot more angles of looking at immigration that I have not touched on in these four posts.  I welcome comments, opinions and different viewpoints so please comment on this post or email me at mkadel@wr.org.

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