Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
from Matthew 25
It’s no secret that the world may change significantly for immigrants under the coming Trump administration. Dreamers, one of the demographics most potentially impacted by Trump’s damaging rhetoric surrounding immigration, have been in a state of shock and fear since his election given his stated intentions to reverse the DACA program. On a broader level, the refugee crisis rages worldwide, leaving those distanced from these tragedies feeling shocked and helpless.
As Christians, the biblical call to care for the stranger is clear. For individuals and churches across the country compelled to increase their understanding of ways to help the vulnerable populations in our midst and around the world, the following resources are an excellent place to find practical options for faith-based initiatives and resources to support immigrants, refugees, and immigration reform.
Sign the Matthew 25 pledge
This weekend, I joined several hundred Christians from across Southern California seeking to prepare to fulfill this call at a training by Alexia Salvatierra (featured in 101 Culturally Diverse Christian Voices) sponsored by the Matthew 25 movement. This movement is seeking 1 million signatures by inauguration day on its Matthew 25 pledge to “protect and defend the vulnerable in the name of Jesus.” Click here to add your name. They are also encouraging churches and organizations to share this on their websites and in services.
Organizations to support
Faith Rooted Organizing: News, resources, training, and networking opportunities for organizations interested in supporting vulnerable people in the US.
Evangelical Immigration Table: Tools, statistics, resources, and media for challenging the church to play a key role in support immigrants in the US. Start with the challenge for yourself to pray through Biblical passages about immigration for 40 days.
Interfaith Immigration Coalition: a partnership of faith-based organizations committed to enacting fair and humane immigration reform. They advocate for immigration policies, educate faith communities, and serve immigrant populations around the country.
Sanctuary Movement: an organization of faith communities supporting immigrants facing deportation.
Resources to Read
Welcoming the Stranger: Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang
“Immigration is one of the most complicated issues of our time. Voices on all sides argue strongly for action and change. Christians find themselves torn between the desire to uphold laws and the call to minister to the vulnerable. In this book World Relief staffers Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang move beyond the rhetoric to offer a Christian response to immigration. They put a human face on the issue and tell stories of immigrants’ experiences in and out of the system. With careful historical understanding and thoughtful policy analysis, they debunk myths and misconceptions about immigration and show the limitations of the current immigration system. Ultimately they point toward immigration reform that is compassionate, sensible and just, as they offer concrete ways for you and your church to welcome and minister to your immigrant neighbors.”
The church leader’s guide to immigration (World Relief)
“Pastors and other church leaders are uniquely positioned in immigrant communities to develop relationships and demonstrate the truth of the gospel. The Church Leader’s Guide to Immigration has been designed as a resource for those on the front lines of ministry who need practical guidance. The questions in this guide were gathered by the authors over several years from local churches and national denominational leaders in the U.S. The questions and answers are not intended to be exhaustive, but designed to lay a foundation for further study. Each section lists additional resources that offer a more in-depth discussion of the presented topics.”
Faith-rooted organizing: Mobilizing the church in service to the world by Alexia Salvatierra and Peter Heltzel
“With so many injustices, small and great, across the world and right at our doorstep, what are people of faith to do? Since the 1930s, organizing movements for social justice in the U.S. have largely been built on assumptions that are secular origin―such as reliance on self-interest and having a common enemy as a motivator for change. But what if Christians were to shape their organizing around the implications of the truth that God is real and Jesus is risen? Alexia Salvatierra has developed a model of social action that is rooted in the values and convictions born of faith. Together with theologian Peter Heltzel, this model of “faith-rooted organizing” offers a path to meaningful social change that takes seriously the command to love God and to love our neighbor as ourself.”
As a means of exploring this issue further, I’d like to explore the potential of starting a small group of Christians in the Northeast SGV exploring these ideas using the curriculum below. If you live in this area and are interested in participating, please complete the contact form below and I’ll be in touch with more details.
Small group curriculum: “Welcoming the Stranger: Discovering and Living God’s heart for Immigrants” (NAE and World Relief)