Many of our Christian students have had their thinking about immigration shaped by everything but their faith. Personal experience gets a say, as does upbringing and environment and culture and politics. But faith? What happens when our faith begins to shape our engagement with the immigration conversation?
Here are four campus applications ...
1) We need to reach out to international students
If God has a special concern for immigrants, so should we. Every year, students come to our campuses on visas, move here for school, many knowing no one. They should be on our radar. They should be on our hearts.
Practicing hospitality is the key activity here. Opening up your life and your schedule to international students can make such a huge difference. Many schools have programs designed to connect international students with local hosts. We should make ourselves available. Who knows what God will do?
2) We need to reach out to undocumented students
Whatever you believe about the politics around immigration, undocumented students are some of the most vulnerable students on campus. They struggle to have access to resources that citizen-students and visa-students enjoy. A compassionate response to them honors Jesus, who in wild grace experienced compassion for us when we were trapped in disobedience and rebellion. How can we not, like him, show love to these students?
Educating yourself is a key activity here. I can't more highly recommend Welcoming the Stranger by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang. This is an excellent book. A must-read as you educate yourself and your community about undocumented students in your midst.
3) We need to share this material
It makes me so sad to think about how little our faith communities have engaged in the conversation about immigration. A few good conversations could make such a big difference. A voice chimed in at the right moment can help people view this conversation through a biblical lens. A passionate advocate can create a ripple effect, a community of advocacy.
Conversations like this happen all the time on college campuses. Yet these conversations often remain in the abstract and political. And though the political realm has to engage the immigration conversation, God was talking about it first. We can inject a dose of deep God-reality into the conversations about immigration that are already happening on campus. And we can offer students advocacy and ministry experiences that help them to put some action behind their thinking around the immigration conversation.
4) We need to pray
Our campuses face a deep and seductive temptation when it comes to immigration: to welcome only the privileged immigrants to our campuses. Economic demands and historic protocol have paved a pathway of immigration for the wealthy, the already well-educated, and the well-connected. And we need to welcome them. It is wonderful that they can be with us.
But there are immigrants who struggle to access our campuses and struggle to thrive there. And the power that creates these struggles is so deeply entrenched. This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting. And this we can do.
This is the last post in the Short Series: A Biblical Perspective on Immigration. Thanks for reading and sharing!