Ministries with Immigrants series on Advocacy
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34
Level of Engagement
|Congregations/Districts||Immigrant, Refugees, Asylum seekers||General Public, Policy makers, Public officials.|
|1. Awareness Listening, sharing, participating with others||Basic facts about the law, immigrants, their rights, acts of injustice; Study the Biblical narrative about the “stranger”. Preach justice.||Providing basic legal information; brochures; social media information; connect immigrant groups from different countries.||Learn about public and official attitudes and practices IRO immigrants; learn about anti-immigrant hostile groups; establish public forums to listen.|
|2. Education Providing “just” knowledge and skills||Current state of the law and its enforcement; evidence of injustice; listen to real stories.||ESL classes; legal rights information and briefings; provide opportunities to share stories.||Inform public of unjust treatment of immigrants; letters to the press; letters of advocacy to elected representatives.|
|3. Discernment Building advocacy skills||Empowering/educating congregations to provide hospitality, mercy and advocacy activity.||Coaching immigrants to advocate for themselves; collaborate with immigrant organizations.||Build relationships with law makers & public officials; hold relationship building forums with opposing factions.|
|4. Proclamation Declaring justice||Preaching hospitality and justice; Declaring injustices; collaborate with other advocacy groups.||Join/support other immigrant advocacy organizations. Stand with immigrants at legal hearings.||Declare positions of God’s justice; participate in protests; letters to elected representatives.|
|5. Advocacy Acts of Mercy
|Supporting immigrants with resources, hospitality, information; provide community for immigrants in church facilities; visit those in detention camps.||Providing sanctuary in churches; support immigrants in sanctuary; protect immigrants from harassment; build community support systems for immigrants.||Resist efforts of authorities to intimidate immigrants; challenge authorities to reduce harmful effects of law enforcement on families.|
|6. Advocacy Acts of Justice||Mobilizing congregations to advocate to change the law; vote for immigrant supporting law enforcement.||Providing legal services (JFON); provide legal support for families of displaced immigrants.||Advocate for legal reform based on justice for all. Advocate against repressive actions and unjust law enforcement.|
This series starts with Awareness. We need a deeper awareness of the stories about immigration injustice, and the stories of people’s lives and they have been affected. We must gather facts so that we can build appropriate advocacy practices. We also need to make immigrants of all categories aware of their rights, the potential opportunities for action, and finally make elected representatives aware of our convictions about the treatment of immigrants.
Self and Congregational Awareness.
Start with yourself. Study the Biblical narrative about the “stranger” or immigrant and the neighbor so that you have a clear theological vision of what God expects of us as we discern how to love our neighbor. Read the stories Jesus tells about people who are the outcasts of society in his day, and how he treated them with love and inclusiveness. Base all your future action on those Biblical values. Share these Biblical truths with others in your congregation.
Understand the current political and ideological perspective of the current Administration because it is fueling the current state of affairs.
Visit websites of immigration advocacy organizations like “Justice for our Neighbors, (JFON) a UMC initiative that creates immigration law clinics throughout the USA. Run awareness sessions for your congregation by getting an immigration attorney to speak to small groups at your church to share information about all the types of immigration and processes.Get your pastor to preach about “neighbor and stranger”, and justice. The Immigration Task Force website will place more detailed information regularly.
Most important, read and listen to the stories of real immigrants, these stories tell of the difficulties and hardships immigrants face coming to this country. Share those stories with others.
Raise the awareness of the issue with Immigrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
Most immigrants have little understanding of immigrant law. It is complex and confusing. Many are misled by people who exploit them. So create opportunities to provide legal and other constructive information. Your congregation can become a gathering place to provide fellowship, hospitality and information. Gather information about immigration services from web sites, immigrant services organizations and make them available in public places in your church. Create a workshop or information session run by an expert that is open to the public to share basic immigration and “Know Your Rights” information.
Make your elected representatives, the general public and those in authority aware of your concern for current immigration policy.
Here there are two audiences, the general public, and elected representatives at the federal level. The best ways to make the current problems with the immigration policies known is to write to the press, your friends on social media, blogs and other social media that share comments about this issue. Making people aware of the problems with the current immigration policies is critical to build awareness and even a movement to take advocacy action. Respond to immigration service organizations with notes of support for their work.
In the case of elected representatives, write to them, phone them and ensure that they are aware of what you feel about current immigration enforcement practices. The more they hear from you, the more they take notice. Focus heavily on the positive role immigrants play in the economy, in helping locals understand that diversity is enriching and helps build trust between nations. As time goes by you will build specific advocacy approaches to focus your advocacy work to make immigration laws more fair and just. Be specific about what you want to see happen, and what injustices you feel are being perpetrated. Ministries with Immigrants series vol 1
Worship Aid for October 07, 2018