When we first visited our church community, many people asked us “How’d you find out about us?” I think most people were taken aback when I let them know that it was because of the denomination’s stance on immigration.
See, we’re an immigrant family. And though we’re done with the legal process, we cannot forget the eternal call we have as Christians to love and serve the foreigner among us. We were excited to find a church who’s heart to serve the foreigner aligned with ours.
Last year, I bumped into our Associate Pastor at Trader Joe’s. She was serendipitously perusing the goat cheese section as well. We started chatting about ways our church could think outside of the box and be intentionally serving the greater community. I mentioned to her that our immigration journey was TOUGH and that there’s a lack of resources for those on a similar journey in our area.
We went out and started researching the need and what other churches have done in similar situations. It turns out that the body of Christ is doing amazing things as they answer this ever-present call to love the foreigner among us!
Organizations like Immigrant Hope and The Immigration Alliance are empowering local churches to become legal advocates for their immigrant neighbors. After many discussions over chips and queso, ODIS (Open Door Immigration Services) has been birthed as an official non-profit – the first legal service site for the Evangelical Covenant Church. Holla!!
To share this news with our church family, our pastor recently challenged our congregation to do two things in light of this call:
- Pray for 40 days (check out the I Was a Stranger Challenge Toolkit).
- Learn 2 immigrants’ stories.
So simple, yet somehow in that still, quiet time with the Lord and in a personal relationship, our worlds expand.
We had the opportunity to help our church family with part of their homework by providing the first of the two immigrant stories they’d been tasked to learn. You can hear the awesome sermon and my shaky voice here 🙂
Not every church is called to provide legal assistance to their immigrant neighbors. Maybe there are already plenty of resources in your community – awesome! BUT every church is called to be the body of Christ to every person in their community. No matter what their status, race, or religion.
Genesis 1:27 says “So God created mankind in his own image” – we are called to love our neighbors exactly as they are created to be. Image bearers of God. If a church body believes this, they will take seriously the call love and serve the foreigner among them.
How is your church an “immigrant friendly” congregation?