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The Church and the Border: How Christians Can Support Immigration Reform


Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible




Immigration is one of the most pressing issues on the national agenda. It is also a complex and controversial topic that affects millions of people, especially those who are fleeing violence, poverty, and oppression in their home countries. How should Christians view and respond to this issue? What does the Bible say about migration and hospitality? How can the church be a witness of God's love and justice in a divided world?




Christians At The Border: Immigration, The Church, machine elena archit


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In this article, we will explore these questions by looking at the humanitarian crisis at the border, reviewing a book by a Christian scholar on this topic, and discussing the implications for Christians today.


The humanitarian crisis at the border




The U.S.-Mexico border is a place of hope and despair, of opportunity and danger, of life and death. Every year, thousands of people risk their lives to cross this border in search of a better future. Many of them are fleeing violence, corruption, and poverty in their home countries, such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Some of them are seeking asylum or protection from persecution. Others are looking for work or reunification with their families.


However, crossing the border is not easy or safe. Many migrants face abuse, exploitation, and violence from smugglers, cartels, or authorities. Some die in the desert or drown in the river. Some are detained in overcrowded and unsanitary facilities. Some are separated from their children or deported back to their countries. Some are denied due process or access to legal assistance.


The situation at the border is not only a humanitarian crisis but also a political one. It has been a source of debate and conflict among different parties and interests. It has also been influenced by various policies and laws that have changed over time. For example, under the Trump administration, there was a crackdown on undocumented immigrants, a ban on refugees from certain countries, a reduction in legal immigration quotas, and an attempt to build a wall along the border. Under the Biden administration, there has been a reversal of some of these policies, a promise of immigration reform, and a surge in the number of migrants arriving at the border.


The challenges and opportunities for the church




The crisis at the border poses many challenges and opportunities for the church. On one hand, it exposes the divisions and disagreements among Christians on this issue. According to a 2018 Washington Post-ABC poll, 75% of white evangelical Christians rated the federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants as positive. However, other Christians have criticized this stance as uncompassionate and unfaithful to the gospel.


On the other hand, it also offers an opportunity for the church to demonstrate its love and service to its neighbors. Many Christians have been involved in various ministries and organizations that help migrants at the border or in their communities. They have provided food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, legal aid, education, counseling, spiritual support, and advocacy. They have also welcomed refugees and immigrants into their churches and homes.


The biblical principles for responding to migrants




How can Christians discern what is right and wrong on this issue? How can they overcome their biases and prejudices? How can they balance their loyalty to their country and their allegiance to God's kingdom? One way to answer these questions is to look at the biblical principles for responding to migrants. Here are some of them:



  • God created all people in his image and loves them equally (Genesis 1:26-27; John 3:16).



  • God is the sovereign ruler of all nations and the judge of all rulers (Psalm 22:28; Daniel 2:21; Romans 13:1).



  • God cares for the oppressed, the poor, and the marginalized, and calls his people to do the same (Psalm 146:9; Proverbs 31:8-9; Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8; Matthew 25:31-46).



  • God commands his people to love their neighbors as themselves, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or status (Leviticus 19:18, 33-34; Luke 10:25-37; Galatians 3:28).



  • God expects his people to obey the laws of the land, unless they contradict his laws (Exodus 20:12; Romans 13:1-7; Acts 5:29).



  • God invites his people to be strangers and pilgrims in this world, and citizens of his heavenly kingdom (Genesis 12:1-4; Hebrews 11:13-16; Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 2:11-12).



These principles can guide Christians in their attitudes and actions toward migrants. They can also help them evaluate the policies and practices of their government and society. They can also inspire them to seek God's will and wisdom on this issue.


The book by M. Daniel Carroll R.




One of the resources that can help Christians understand and address this issue is a book by M. Daniel Carroll R. titled Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible. This book provides biblical and ethical guidance for readers who are looking for a Christian perspective on the immigration issue.


The author's background and perspective




M. Daniel Carroll R. is a distinguished professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary. He is also a Guatemalan-American who has lived and worked in both countries. He has a personal and professional interest in this issue, as he has witnessed the realities and challenges of migration firsthand. He has also studied and taught the biblical texts that deal with migration and related themes.


His perspective on this issue is shaped by his dual identity and his commitment to the authority of Scripture. He writes, "I am both a Guatemalan and an American, an insider and an outsider. I am a Christian who believes that Scripture speaks to all areas of life, including immigration" (p. xiii). He also acknowledges that his perspective is not the only one, and that he does not have all the answers. He invites his readers to engage with him in a respectful and constructive dialogue.


The main arguments and themes of the book




The main argument of the book is that Christians should approach the immigration issue from a biblical perspective, rather than from a political or cultural one. He writes, "The Bible should be our starting point for thinking about immigration" (p. xiv). He also argues that Christians should consider both the immigrant culture and the host culture, as both sides have much to learn from each other.


The main themes of the book are migration, identity, law, and mission. He explores these themes in four chapters, each focusing on a different part of the Bible:



  • Chapter 1: The Old Testament. He examines how migration was a common experience for God's people in ancient Israel, from Abraham to the exiles. He also looks at how God's law instructed his people to treat foreigners with justice and compassion.



  • Chapter 2: The New Testament. He analyzes how Jesus and his followers were migrants in their own land, under Roman occupation. He also studies how the early church dealt with cultural diversity and social inclusion.



  • Chapter 3: The Hispanic American Experience. He describes how Hispanic Americans have contributed to the history and culture of the United States, as well as how they have faced discrimination and marginalization. He also discusses how Hispanic American Christians have expressed their faith and identity in their context.



  • Chapter 4: Immigration Today. He evaluates the current situation of immigration in the United States, including its causes, effects, and challenges. He also proposes some biblical principles and practical suggestions for Christians who want to respond to this issue in a faithful and constructive way.



The strengths and weaknesses of the book




useful and insightful resource for Christians who want to learn more about this issue. Some of its strengths are:



  • It is written by an expert who has both academic and personal knowledge of the topic.



  • It is based on a careful and faithful interpretation of the biblical texts.



  • It is balanced and respectful of different perspectives and experiences.



  • It is relevant and practical for the current situation and challenges.



However, the book also has some weaknesses that could be improved or addressed. Some of them are:



  • It is somewhat outdated, as it was published in 2008 and does not reflect the latest developments and changes in the immigration issue.



  • It is somewhat limited, as it focuses mainly on the U.S.-Mexico border and the Hispanic American experience, and does not cover other regions or groups of migrants.



  • It is somewhat vague, as it does not provide specific or concrete recommendations or solutions for some of the problems or dilemmas that Christians face on this issue.



The implications for Christians today




The book by M. Daniel Carroll R. is not only informative but also challenging. It invites Christians to rethink their views and actions on the immigration issue, and to align them with God's word and will. It also urges Christians to engage with this issue in a constructive and compassionate way, and to be a part of God's mission in the world.


The call to love and serve our neighbors




One of the implications for Christians today is that they are called to love and serve their neighbors, especially those who are migrants or refugees. This means that they should not ignore or avoid them, but rather reach out to them and help them in their needs. This also means that they should not fear or hate them, but rather respect and appreciate them as fellow human beings created in God's image.


Loving and serving our neighbors also involves listening to their stories and learning from their experiences. It means that we should not stereotype or judge them, but rather empathize and understand them. It also means that we should not exploit or oppress them, but rather empower and support them.


The need for compassion and justice




Another implication for Christians today is that they need to practice both compassion and justice when dealing with the immigration issue. Compassion means that they should care for the suffering and vulnerable migrants, and show them mercy and grace. Justice means that they should stand for the rights and dignity of migrants, and speak out against injustice and oppression.


Compassion and justice are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary. They reflect God's character and his desire for his creation. They also require wisdom and discernment, as they may involve difficult choices and trade-offs. They also require courage and commitment, as they may involve risks and sacrifices.


The role of advocacy and action




A third implication for Christians today is that they have a role to play in advocacy and action on the immigration issue. Advocacy means that they should use their voice and influence to raise awareness and educate others about this issue, especially within their churches and communities. It also means that they should use their resources and networks to support organizations and initiatives that work for positive change on this issue.


Action means that they should use their gifts and talents to contribute to the solutions and opportunities on this issue, especially within their spheres of influence and responsibility. It also means that they should use their time and energy to volunteer or participate in activities or events that benefit migrants or refugees.


Conclusion




In conclusion, immigration is a complex and controversial issue that affects millions of people around the world. It is also a biblical and ethical issue that challenges Christians to think and act according to God's word and will. In this article, we have explored the humanitarian crisis at the border, reviewed a book by a Christian scholar on this topic, and discussed the implications for Christians today.


We hope that this article has helped you to gain a better understanding of this issue, as well as some biblical principles and practical suggestions for responding to it. We also hope that this article has inspired you to get involved in this issue in a faithful and constructive way, as part of God's mission in the world.


Here are some FAQs that you may have after reading this article:


FAQs





  • Q: How can I learn more about the immigration issue and the biblical perspective on it?



  • A: You can read books, articles, blogs, podcasts, or videos that cover this topic from a Christian point of view. Some examples are: Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible by M. Daniel Carroll R., The Bible and Borders: Hearing God's Word on Immigration by M. Daniel Carroll R. and Leopoldo A. Sánchez M., Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang, Strangers Next Door: Immigration, Migration and Mission by J.D. Payne, and The Stranger: Immigration and the American Dream by Jorge Ramos.



  • Q: How can I find or join a ministry or organization that helps migrants or refugees?



  • A: You can search online or ask your local church or community for ministries or organizations that work with migrants or refugees in your area or abroad. Some examples are: World Relief, International Justice Mission, World Vision, Samaritan's Purse, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and The Salvation Army.



  • Q: How can I pray for the immigration issue and the people involved in it?



  • A: You can pray for God's guidance and wisdom for yourself and others who are dealing with this issue. You can also pray for God's protection and provision for the migrants and refugees who are facing dangers and difficulties. You can also pray for God's justice and peace for the countries and regions that are affected by this issue. You can also pray for God's grace and love for the church and the world that are called to be a witness of his kingdom.



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