Welcome the Immigrant
By Mark A. Taylor
Some Christians are ready to retreat from the barrage of controversy surrounding the first days of Donald Trump’s presidency. Some are so upset by his policies and pronouncements, they’ve just decided to turn off the news and stay away from Facebook.
Others are congratulating him for keeping campaign promises, regardless of the style in which he does so.
And many have taken to the streets to protest his policies. The news has reported waves of turmoil because of his executive order refusing entry to refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.
CHRISTIAN STANDARD is not a political magazine, and its editor is not qualified to be a political commentator, so I will temper my remarks here. But I’ve been thinking all weekend about the issue of CHRISTIAN STANDARD that we’re sending to the printer this Wednesday.
Our March issue, which will be in the mail soon, carries the cover blurb: “Welcome the Immigrant” and quotes Leviticus 19:33, 34: “When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don’t take advantage of him. Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own” (The Message).
That passage is quoted more than once throughout the issue, by Christian leaders who are serving refugees and immigrants in many ways. Their stories humanize this issue. Their example leads us to see the opportunities for ministry and mission among “the least of these” who need our help.
Kevin Lines, professor at Hope International University and soon-to-be executive director at Christian Missionary Fellowship International, leads off the issue with a strong biblical case for welcoming the immigrant. He points out that Adam and Eve were migrants, forced from the Garden of Eden. The ancient Jews were aliens, first in Egypt and later in Babylon. The first Christians were scattered by persecution out of Jerusalem and into the rest of the world. And Jesus himself was a refugee, hiding with his parents in Egypt because of persecution in his homeland against families with Jewish infant boys.
His survey of Bible teaching on the topic is too long to repeat here. But his conclusion is worth considering this week:
Reading the Bible with an eye toward aliens and strangers reminds us that God loves all people—even migrants; that migration is a regular part of the human story—even in the Bible; and that the Old Testament law directed God’s people to welcome, protect, and assist those who were vulnerable. Jesus reminds us to reach out and minister to those who are at the margins of society, and the New Testament letters call us all to be hospitable toward strangers and aliens.
As we seek a biblical response to migrants in our communities, we must remember that not all immigrants are illegal, and that many undocumented immigrants are in need of compassion from Christians. Christians must resist tendencies to condemn migrants and their desire to relocate.
Some will see that March issue as providential. It will seem to them that God has provided this discussion of Christians and immigration at a perfect time.
Others will see it as political. Even though our 2017 theme list was determined more than a year ago, they will believe CHRISTIAN STANDARD is reacting to our president and his policies.
We will emphatically deny that claim. Not only was the March cover theme decided in January 2016, but the content for the issue was assigned before the November election.
But was God was at work in that process, bringing this biblical teaching when American Christians needed it most? We will make no claim on God’s providence. But we will stand by the content as a thoughtful examination of biblical precedent and an encouraging report of Christian ministry in a day when immigration is on the minds of many.
If you’re not subscribing to CHRISTIAN STANDARD, we encourage you to download our free app and purchase the March issue as soon as it is ready there. You’ll receive notification when that happens, around February 8.