Media around the world have been focused on the treatment undocumented immigrant families have received recently in the United States. Images of children separated from their parents have flooded the airwaves and social media. Voices crying out for justice and action have put enormous pressure on the country’s political leaders.
Yesterday, an executive order intended to end the separation of families at the border by reinstating the former policy of detaining them together was signed. The order is impermanent, political parties continue to debate policies, tensions remain high and trust continues to erode.
Our voices, yours and mine, are needed to continue contributing to the call for Executive and Legislative branches, Democrats and Republicans, to work together for the best solution for our immigrant brothers and sisters both immediately and permanently. Real human lives are being impacted, lives that matter to God and to us.
I think of a young woman by the name of Adriana. She always considered herself just a normal kid like everyone else. Only as she got older did she realize she was brought to the United States when she was just 2 years old and undocumented. She has a passion for helping others and to give back to her community which she is now doing by working at one of our Immigrant Connection sites at a Wesleyan church. Adriana is not an issue, or a number. Adriana is a person, a Wesleyan one at that.
Wherever you are located and whatever role you have to play in fulfilling our call to love God and our neighbors, steward your voice well. The Wesleyan Church has a long history of and deep commitment to acting as agents of Spirit-filled outreach and compassion. Our General Conference voted overwhelmingly in favor of a position statement titled, A Wesleyan View of Immigration. Read it and you will find its contents are relevant to these current issues. An excerpt follows:
“God is mindful of all people and concerned for their needs. Many immigrants face serious hardships—family separation and loneliness, financial distress, language barriers, exploitation, prejudice or racism, personal safety issues, social isolation, lack of food or shelter, problems adapting or assimilating into a new culture, insecurity and fear (especially for those who do not have proper documentation). More urgently, they are persons in need of the grace of God and the knowledge of Christ that leads to salvation.”
Wesleyan voices are speaking out and using their platform to engage these relevant issues in our culture. We have been consistent in declaring and modeling that immigration is an issue, but immigrants are people.
Additionally, many Wesleyan disciple-makers are immigrants and many of our churches have a significant number of immigrants in them. In some cases, entire churches are mostly made up of immigrants. Immigrants are not they, immigrants are we, a vital part of our identity, in North America and around the world.
Our Immigrant Connection centers continue to increase in number into new ZIP codes, making an impact by offering low-cost legal services in a way that leads people in great need directly into our churches for help. They add real-world strategic solutions for churches in communities that need it desperately. Some Wesleyans are sharing ideas and gaining encouragement for their ministry to and advocacy for immigrants through a Wesleyan Immigrant Advocates Facebook group as well.
For several years, The Wesleyan Church has been a part of the Evangelical Immigration Table which calls for, in its unchanging principles, a legislative solution that:
- Respects the God-given dignity of every person
- Protects the unity of the immediate family
- Respects the rule of law
- Guarantees secure national borders
- Ensures fairness to taxpayers
- Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents
Wesleyans are offering a flesh and blood transforming presence in people’s lives today worldwide, often in and among immigrant people and as immigrants themselves.
I pray for you to continue to see and respond to the needs around you – whether that response is offering a cold cup of water, assisting with documentation, clasping a hand or raising a call for action.
Thank you for the consistent and ongoing kindnesses you offer to women and men, girls and boys – no other descriptor for them is needed.
Thank you for continuing to reflect Christ faithfully and fruitfully as you serve in the communities where God has called you to be a transforming presence.
I conclude by sharing a few examples of Wesleyans using their voice and platform to speak to immigration.
- Evangelical Leaders Urge Against Family Separation at the U.S.-Mexico Border
- Jeff Sessions and the “Whisky bottle Bible” – Josh McNall Blog
- DePauw Junior & ‘Dreamer’ Anna Muñoz addresses Capitol Hill news conference
- Jo Anne Lyon CBC interview
- Connecting the world: Local immigration clinic serves as training ground for sites across the nation
- My Take: Time to act on a ‘DACA solution’ is now
- Welcoming the Stranger: A sermon from Pastor Kyle Ray