More Persistent Walls

I better stand on my soapbox a little longer before someone starts beating me over the head with it.  I feel compelled to bring up another wall that is not recent, but has taken on a new look.  If you haven’t read my previous post about walls, then I recommend doing that first.

Sometimes we maintain walls that we think we have good reasons to maintain, when, in fact, we do not.  For instance, for many Christians the problem with illegal immigration is not so much that it is illegal, but that it is immigration.  Illegal immigration is used as a convenient avenue to express what really amounts to fear of the unknown.  We hear people talking in languages we do not understand, and we fear that they are talking about us.  Our fears are confirmed when they laugh, because we know they are laughing at us. (I hope my sarcasm is obvious.)

So, Christians make statements like, “All immigrants should have to learn English if they are going to come to our country.”  All the while, maybe they do not realize that the United States has no official language.  And, they make comments within the confines of a discussion about illegal immigration since “illegal” means we can take a moral stand on the issue. But this is not even the real problem.

Here is the real problem: all people are in need of the Savior, even immigrants, and even illegal immigrants…but we forget that too often.  Be very careful what stand you take on illegal immigration.  Make certain that it is not a stand against immigration in general.  Make certain that it is not a stand that builds unnecessary walls.  Make certain that it is not a stand that gets in the way of your divinely appointed obligation to make disciples of all nations. 

It saddens me to hear Christians complain about immigrants not speaking English.  If we saw them as souls maybe we would complain less and do more…like establishing classes through the local congregation to teach English using the Bible…like learning their language so that we can make sure they know God loves them and wants to see them in heaven.

I believe that we have an illegal immigration problem, and that illegal immigration is illegal.  I agree that something needs to be done about it.  But, I also think that we are missing wonderful opportunities for evangelism in the immigrant community by maintaining what really amounts to unnecessary walls.

We need to start seeing people the way God sees people.  “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1Samuel 16:7)  See people as souls in need, and you will begin to fulfill God’s will.

What ideas do you have for reaching out to the immigrants in our communities?


4 thoughts on “More Persistent Walls

  1. Beforehand apologies for the length of this reply:

    In principle, I agree with the main thrust of your article and its challenge (as stated in your final sentence), “What ideas do you have for reaching out to the immigrants in our communities?” That should be the bottom line. I live in a town that’s 52% Hispanic/Latino (for comparison, Coffeyville is 3.8%) and agriculture (with its migrant jobs) drives the local economy so this is a real issue for me and the church here. On my “List of Things to Do” is to learn Spanish. I don’t know that my Spanish will ever be as good as my Russian, but I do feel a need to be able to communicate the Gospel to the people in my area who don’t even speak my native language. We do have two Spanish-speakers in our congregation and I’ve begun to ask them both to be involved, using that linguistic ability for the church.

    It’s happened in many places, but I happen to have firsthand information about Woodville, California (82.5% Hispanic/Latino). There was a church of Christ in the town, but as the community became inundated with immigrants (legal and otherwise) the church did not reach out to them (they hid behind their walls). On a Sunday morning a few years ago when my dad went to preach for them, there were just three little old ladies who assembled. They told him that if he could find a faithful Spanish-speaking minister that they would deed the building over to him so that the work could continue. Sadly it was a classic case of too little, too late (no one was ever found). I question the vision/plan of any church that “plans to ignore” (by not planning to engage) a group that makes up 50% or more of their local population.

    Dare I comment further?

    I wrote a couple of pages on the peripheral matter of illegal immigration … and – wisely – waited before posting them. I don’t want to detract from the actual emphasis of your post.

    However (don’t you love that word?), I think that the information from the following clip should be central to any discussion about immigration policy (legal or illegal). Please watch!

    P.S. I just got back to the office from having supper at home. A dirt-poor Mexican woman in our community who is becoming part of our church family (though she’s not a New Testament Christian yet) called Sara out of the blue and brought over some homemade Mexican food “just because” it’s the neighborly thing do to. No, I’m not against immigration. And it’s unfair to characterize the many by the antics of the few. One of the greatest things about working with Hispanic populations is their “clan-based” culture. As we show Rosa and Lupe Christ’s love and His truth, there will be many connections with which to follow up. I’m looking forward to this challenge.

    Back to work (there’s a bulletin that still needs printing)!

  2. Levi,

    What you are discovering in Texas, regarding Hispanic immigration, is a trend that is bound to be repeated in most places in the United States. The Hispanic community is currently the fastest growing in the United States…and not just in Texas, California, and other border states, but in places like Arkansas and Colorado as well. Our 3.8% Hispanic population is bound to grow rapidly in the not-too-distant future. Some churches, such as the congregation where you preach, will have to play catch-up, but many congregations can get ahead of the curve, and be ready for the need. Who knows when the explosion might hit Coffeyville…but if we already have contacts in the Hispanic community then our job will be much easier down the road.

    That was an interesting clip. Current immigration levels certainly do put a strain on the economy, and on society in general, and he did a good job illustrating that. He also made an excellent point: don’t get mad at immigrants for the population explosion…it was Congress who raised immigration levels to allow the explosion.

    Thanks for the comments and link. Let me know when you get your stuff on illegal immigration posted, and where I can access it.

  3. By the way,

    Learning Spanish is also on my “To Do List.” I found some software recently at a discount store that is really good. It is by Topics Entertainment, and it is called Instant Immersion Spanish Deluxe v2.0. It has a voice recognition feature that also helps you work on your accent. It comes with some mp3 lessons and additional audio lessons on cds so you can learn around the house or in the car. It has a Spanish/English dictionary. And it has 3 levels of lessons, and each level has about 100 hours of instruction.

    I know it sounds like a commercial, but it really is a neat program, and fairly easy to use.

  4. Maybe having a spanish class at the church building for the members would be a good idea so that members would be able to communicate with immigrants. (I do believe that if they are going to live here, they should learn to speak English, but just because I believe that doesn’t mean that it will happen… we have to deal with reality.) Most people don’t have any problem with legal immigrants buy they do have a probem with anyone breaking the law. But, no matter who they are, we do need to care about their souls.

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