welcome (1)

Welcoming the Stranger: The Church’s Response to Immigration

Explores a biblical perspective on immigration and how the church can extend compassion and care to migrants and refugees.

Welcoming the Stranger: The Church’s Response to Immigration Immigration is a complex and often contentious issue that prompts a spectrum of responses, including within the evangelical community. Yet, as we wrestle with the practical implications…

Welcoming the Stranger: The Church’s Response to Immigration

Immigration is a complex and often contentious issue that prompts a spectrum of responses, including within the evangelical community. Yet, as we wrestle with the practical implications of immigration, our guide must be the Scripture, which offers clear directives about the heart posture and actions toward “the stranger” among us. How can the Church respond with compassion and justice to those crossing borders in search of refuge and a better life?

A Biblical Call to Hospitality

Throughout the Bible, there is a consistent call to extend hospitality and care to the foreigner. Leviticus 19:34 commands, “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” This injunction lays a foundational principle for God’s people to show generosity and love, recalling their history of once being strangers themselves.

Jesus further emphasizes this in the New Testament, encapsulating care for the immigrant in the essence of Kingdom ethics. Matthew 25:35 says, “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.” Jesus underscores that the way we treat the least of these, including strangers, is indicative of our response to Him.


Grappling with the Modern Context

Contemporary immigration presents challenges that the biblical writers could not have envisioned, including legal and economic complexities that must be navigated. As Christians, we are called to respect and be subject to governing authorities as outlined in Romans 13:1-7. Yet, within this framework, there remains a holy imperative to advocate for the foreigner and the outcast, ensuring their treatment is characterized by dignity and justice.

Actionable Steps for Individuals and the Church

1. Scripture-Based Education: Use sermons, Bible studies, and educational forums to inform church members about what the Bible says regarding the treatment of immigrants.

2. Practical Support: Partner with local organizations to provide practical assistance to immigrants, such as English language classes, legal aid, job resources, and housing support.

3. Advocacy and Awareness: Stay informed on immigration policies and consider peaceful advocacy for laws that reflect biblical values of compassion and justice.

4. Create a Welcome Environment: Ensure that church services and activities are accessible and welcoming to people of different nationalities and languages.

5. Cross-Cultural Fellowship: Host community-building events and cultural exchanges that foster relationships between immigrants and the church community.

6. Support Immigrant Families: Develop specific ministries or support groups to address the unique needs of families who are adjusting to a new culture and may be separated from loved ones.

7. Volunteer and Serve: Encourage church members to volunteer with local shelters, refugee resettlement programs, and other services that aid immigrants directly.

8. Intercessory Prayer: Regularly uplift immigrants in the church’s prayers, acknowledging their plights and the contribution they bring to the community and society as a whole.

9. Promote Fair Representation: Advocate for and support fair representation for immigrants within the church leadership, fostering diversity and inclusivity.

10. Encourage Respectful Dialogue: Create a safe and respectful space for dialogue on immigration within the church, allowing varying perspectives to be aired within the context of Christian love and respect.

Embracing Our Role in God’s Story of Redemption

As the Church seeks to welcome the stranger, we must do so in a manner that reflects God’s love for all people, remembering that in God’s kingdom, there are no foreigners or strangers, only brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Church has the opportunity to serve as a beacon of hope for those seeking refuge. By embodying a kingdom perspective, we can transcend cultural and political divides to offer a place of spiritual sanctuary and social support.

In mirroring God’s hospitality, the evangelical church can leave an indelible mark on the lives of those who come to us in need. We are presented with a God-given chance to exhibit the unconditional love of Christ, affirming the inherent dignity of every person made in the image of God.

As we move forward in this blog series, exploring issues vital to the evangelical community, let us commit to praying for wisdom, seeking justice, and practicing hospitable love in accordance with Jesus’s teaching. May our response to the complexities of immigration be guided by His example, ensuring that we, too, will one day hear, “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35).