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Illegal Immigrants in the Church?
Illustration by Amanda Duffy

Mark DeYmaz, directional leader at Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas, M. Daniel Carroll R. (Rodas), Old Testament professor at Denver Seminary, and Matthew Soerens, the U.S. church training specialist for World Relief, debate what churches should do about illegal immigrants in their midst.

Do Everything Legal

Mark DeYmaz, directional leader at Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas

In the earliest days of Mosaic Church, one of our members was issued a traffic ticket. Later we learned he was undocumented. A year or so after this incident, he received a second citation from local police, who discovered that he'd had a fraudulent driver's license obtained with a fake Social Security number.

In every other way, the individual was a law-abiding member of the community and a follower of Christ. Yet he soon received a letter from the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services requiring him to leave the country within 30 days. However, he chose to ignore the letter and remain in Little Rock.

When it comes to meeting the spiritual, material, and physical needs of immigrants, there is strong biblical precedent for getting involved (Ex. 22:21; 23:9; Lev. 19:33-34; Deut. 27:19). But New Testament teaching also makes it clear that as followers of Christ, we are to honor the law and respect the rulers of our land (Luke 20:23-25; 1 Pet. 2:13-14). How should we resolve this apparent tension?

Out of concern for this member and what his decision might mean for the church, I met with local immigration officials to discuss the situation. I learned that a church is in no way restricted from ministering to people based on their legal status or expected to know who within the congregation is and is not properly documented. ...

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Illegal Immigrants in the Church?
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February 2011

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