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Love Thy (Immigrant) Neighbor

Women leaders play a unique role in helping refugees and immigrants settle into the community.
  • Explain how and where they can pay bills.
  • Because many areas of the world have no climate control inside homes, show them how the heating and cooling systems work.
  • Point them to local recreation, like parks and sports facilities.
  • Explain trash and recycling pickup days and guidelines.
  • Help them find and enroll in ESL classes.
  • Learn basic immigration laws.

Don’t be surprised if there is agitation, complaining, anger, or tears while they are (re)learning to function, but don’t take it personally. They are now in a world where things are strange to them! We all are inherently ethnocentric: what we think is normal and easy, to others is weird and difficult; what others believe about how things should work, we may find bizarre. We overcome prejudices as we appreciate differences. Because culture is a social heritage, not a biological one, the immigrant will begin blending practices from the homeland with those of the new land, further helping her learn to function in her new environment.

Practical Spiritual Needs

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” —John 3:16

All people, including immigrants, need the Lord. And women leaders have a unique role to play in sharing the life-giving message of Jesus Christ with immigrants, especially women and children.

In time, it may be appropriate to give her a Bible in her language, or introduce her to an online source, like www.Bible.is. But please be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in this; typically you must first earn trust. I’ve witnessed people hearing God’s Word for the first time in their language; it is a profoundly spiritual and touching experience. “I didn’t know God speaks my language!” exclaimed one teary eyed woman.

In his article “Thinking Theologically about Immigration,” Dr. Alex Mandes exhorts the church, “We have an opportunity in terms of our mission. Many of these people are outside of their home countries, separated from their families, and outside of their own governments’ systems. They are prime for the gospel!”

Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church testifies, “As we’ve ministered to immigrants, many have come to know Jesus. Immigration presents an opportunity to ‘make disciples of all nations’ right in our own neighborhoods. … My hope and prayer is not only that many of the undocumented immigrants in our country would eventually be allowed to become US citizens, but—that many more would embrace the God who invites them to be citizens of his eternal kingdom.”

February23, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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