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Welcoming the Stranger

WELCOMING THE STRANGER

You probably know personally someone who immigrated to this country as a child or adult. Nearly every news cycle has a story about the thousands of immigrants entering our country daily through our southern border.  Whether we agree with the method or not, we cannot deny that our country began as a nation of immigrants, and that it still is.  In 2019, immigrants, that is foreign born residents of the US, comprised 13.7% of our population.   (www.migrationpolicy.org)

Immigration is discussed and debated in the news, among politicians, and even in the Church. How we are to address immigration?  As Christ-followers, we must base our words and actions on immigration on the Word of God. 

We want to offer you a few resources to help you prayerfully consider the issue of immigration to the US, and how, as representatives of Christ on this Earth, we are to respond. These are resources that we have personally vetted. There are many out there, and we have included others in past Library posts.  See Categories.

Welcoming the Stranger (by Matt Soerens and Jenny Yang) 

This book from World Relief carefully and thoughtfully covers the issue of immigration and welcoming the stranger by addressing a number of important topics.  Matt Soerens and Jenny Yang pull in personal experiences from their own lives of being the child of, living with,  and serving immigrants. 

In this well-written book, you’ll learn about the dilemma facing immigrants to the US, what is required to enter the nation legally and why few do so.  You’ll learn about the history of immigration and that your great-grandfather who entered ‘legally’ in 1890 did so because there really weren’t many illegal ways to enter.

Present day concerns about immigration such as unemployment, taxes, and terrorism are also addressed clearly and fairly, and are balanced with the value of immigrants to the United States.  (Did you know that 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants?)  Soerens and Yang give us a sound Biblical foundation on immigration and cap off the book with a challenge to the Church that to “love our immigrant neighbors well is not a temporary thing but requires long-term commitment that comes from a heart committed to God’s flourishing in this world.” (p. 215.)

You can purchase the book from Intervarsity Press, ChristianBook.com, or Amazon.com.

 

Immigrant Connection is a ministry of the Wesleyan Church with the goal of providing affordable legal services to immigrants through the local churches.  Roanoke has an Immigrant Connection site at El Puente Legal Services located at Parkway House of Prayer.   Besides offering legal services to immigrants, Immigrant Connection also provides resources for local churches and believers to better connect with their immigrant neighbors.  We recommend that you enroll in the next Welcoming the Stranger Online Learning Cohort.  The free course includes 7 weeks of online discussions and less than an hour a week of online videos or reading. Go here to find the next dates.  

The Role of the Church in the Refugee Crisis is a short (1 hour) course written and  offered by the International Association for Refugees (IAFR) This free course with discussion questions will challenge you and your group of co-learners as you learn about the refugee experience from the refugee’s point of view. 

 

With stories and experiences drawn mostly from refugees in Africa and Syria, The Role of the Church in the Refugee Crisis addresses questions such as:

  • Do I or my community actually have anything to offer in the midst of such a complex problem?
  • What is it that refugees, asylum seekers, and other people forced to flee their homes really need?

You will understand different ways of engaging with the issue of forced displacement that are truly helpful. Also, you will learn how the strengths of a local church provide an ideal context for the recovery of forcibly displaced people. 

This course is especially helpful if you are friends with refugees from countries such as the Congo, Sudan, Syria, or others. 

Have you ever wondered what it takes to immigrate to the United States? 
Check out this short simulation of the immigrant process. 

The Hopeful Neighborhood Field Guide

If you live somewhere and have an interest in that somewhere, then you should read this short book!  Tony Cook and Don Everts offer six short sessions to help you and your church or community group pursue the common good right where you live. 

Through easy to read content and short testimonial and instructional videos, you will learn to take concrete steps to seeking the common good for your neighborhood.   The Hopeful Neighborhood approach focuses on

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12 Neighbors Films and Discussion Guides

12 Neighbors is a film series exploring what it truly means to love your neighbor. These high-quality videos show how churches and individuals are loving their neighbors in bold and innovative ways across the U.S. and Canada, such as:

  • understanding systems of injustice,
  • spending themselves,
  • doing development,
  • creating contexts for community, and
  • starting with strengths to love and serve one another.

Each video features stories of people doing each of these things, living out Jesus’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves. The featured programs include Jobs for Life, ESL teaching to refugees, a blended housing complex for families in need and older adults, a community food center, and more. Videos may be watched in order or individually, as they also can stand alone.

Each film is 12-16 minutes long and comes with discussion questions for small groups. Trailers and social media graphics are also available. Each of these resources is a completely free download, so that groups may use them regardless of funding or location. These videos could be a great catalyst for discussion and ideas for a small group, community program, or just a group of friends looking to make a change. 

Check it out for yourself at 12neighbors.org and let us know how you will use this resource!