The United Nations recently estimated that there are approximately 220 million immigrants worldwide today. As many as 60 million of those are either refugees (displaced from their home countries) or are people displaced from their home regions though they remain in their own country. 12.5 million of those who are currently displaced are from Syria. Of those 12.5 million, some 4 million have fled the country, mostly to Turkey, Lebanon, and other Middle Eastern nations. Growing numbers are making their way to countries in Europe, seeking asylum. The news agencies have chronicled this crisis in varying degrees of detail of the past several years.
In our own country, a more pressing immigration matter relates to the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants, most of whom have come to the U.S. fleeing economic and social hardship in Mexico or Latin America…pursuing the American Dream of working and providing for themselves and their families. The political rhetoric, especially during an election cycle, is strong as candidates advocate their views on reforming U.S. immigration policy to either restrict or widen the “gates” of our borders. Conspicuously absent, often times, is a Biblical view on the matter. Does God’s word have anything to say about immigrants? How does it call us as the Church to treat them? What does it say about our rights as a nation to protect our borders?
In this six week class, we will seek to grow in our understanding of what the Bible says about how God’s people are to treat immigrants. We will also seek to explore practical ways that such an understanding can be lived out by the Church – as individuals, congregations, and as a whole – in relation to some of the specific immigrant and refugee issues of our day and time. While we will not focus on political matters, we will look at some of the historical and present day facts about U.S. immigration policy and consider how we can show one another grace as we differ on specific application of Christian principles to public policies pertaining to those seeking to immigrate to our country.