Immigration Workshop: Church Between Borders
February 26, 2018
Updated March 15, 2018
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What is it?
Church Between Borders is a three-part interactive workshop that sparks thought and discussion for Christian groups interested in engaging immigration from a Biblical perspective. Participants will reflect on the Biblical mandate to welcome the stranger and consider what that means in our current context. Church Between Borders has been done in various settings throughout the country — adult-education classes in congregations, youth groups, schools, colleges, community organizations, and more.
Why should my church participate?
The word immigrant, ger, appears 92 times in the Old Testament and Scripture repeatedly reminds us of the blessing of the stranger, but only 24% of evangelicals have discussed immigration in their church. Together we can explore why immigrants are so close to the heart of God and help our congregations change the conversation. Opinions tend to run high about the issue of immigration, but often our shared set of facts runs low. If we’re going to think faithfully about immigration, it’s important that we share an understanding of how immigration works today and what the Bible has to say about how we think about immigrants.
Session 1: Immigration Simulation — Stepping into the Shoes of an Immigrant
Part of thinking faithfully about immigration means that we share an understanding of how immigration works today — and maybe dispel some myths or misunderstandings that we didn’t even know we had. In this session we will discover together how a person can legally immigrate today. We often hear the question: “Why don’t undocumented immigrants just get in line?” Together we will learn what the lines are, who can get in them (and who can’t), and how long it can take to get through those lines.
Session 2: Immigration Storyline — How Did We Get Here?
One thing that is important for moving forward together is having a common memory about the past. In the United States, as a result of the diversity we enjoy, it can be a challenge to cultivate a common memory about immigration. The purpose of this session is to work toward a shared understanding of immigration history and the values that have shaped our evolving laws. We’ll take into account memories that different groups may have, and together we’ll form a more holistic understanding. We often hear the statement: “My grandparents came legally, why can't others do the same?” This session will help explore the evolution of immigration policy throughout U.S. history, and reveal how it has prioritized some immigration seekers over others for hundreds of years.
Session 3: How Do We Think about Immigration as Christians? How Can We Advocate for Change?
As we listen to the rhetoric and read today’s headlines about immigration, we can see how our culture defines a person’s worth based on economics (are they a plus or a minus?) or safety (are they a threat or a benefit?) — but that is not how Scripture defines the worth of human beings. In this session we’ll consider how Scripture can inform our thinking and our conversation about the issue of immigration. We’ll also consider how we are called to respond — using our time, talents, treasure, and the power that we have been given as citizens of a democracy. We’ll discuss how our voices and actions can bring about policies that are rooted in faithful thinking and aligned with Scripture’s call on our lives and our leaders.
Interested in hosting or leading Church Between Borders?
We have trained facilitators that may be able to facilitate the workshop for your community depending on availability and location. We also have a facilitator’s guide which allows you to lead the workshop yourself. You do not need to be an immigration expert to facilitate! Visit this website to learn more about coordinating a time for us to come lead this workshop or to download the facilitator's guide and materials needed to lead it yourself!