Written by Beth Richardson. Media by Cord Buchanan.
It’s obvious that not everyone is on the same page for hot-button issues like DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), but shouldn’t Christians be on the same page? Within a biblical context, the emphasis for Christians should be on welcoming those who we consider strangers. So what does this mean in terms of the DACA program?
In the Bible, throughout the teachings of Jesus, we find many examples of how we should act. Jesus teaches these lessons in the form of parables. Matthew 25:41-46 says,
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
In that passage, Jesus is talking about the importance of caring for the people who are the most oppressed in society. God’s desire is for us to help all people.
The book Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion, and Truth in the Immigration Debate talks about obedience to God. It says,
“Correct obedience to God is submitting to what is essential to God’s heart. Jesus paid the cost on the cross for every person and every ethnic group around the world to receive salvation. With his death on the cross, Christ purchased for God members ‘from every tribe and language and people and nation.’. As Bill Nelson, a pastor with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship says, ‘Whenever there is an opportunity for the church to reach out to people in our communities, we must consider what it will take to further the Kingdom. If this means putting down the American flag and raising the Kingdom flag, this is what we should do.'”
As Christians, it’s not an option of whether we want to help. We can’t only participate in the Kingdom of God if the ideas He presents conveniently line up with ours. We ought to and need to consider His ideas and desires because we are called to be examples of that very image in this world.
It’s important to note that among Christians who support Donald Trump, 57% favor DACA. According to an article from the organization Sojourners, it’s an issue of morality to not be welcoming to the stranger. They say in the article, “Christians: DACA Is Our Fight,” “…the biblical command to protect immigrants is unambiguous, and that certainly informs how many Christians approach this issue.” The article then continues to talk about how the program affects even families in the United States who don’t depend on DACA. Those families are starting to realize that there are people they love who might face deportation. This brings about a major disruption in the atmosphere of our communities and churches.
Because of this, many people in the United States are demanding action from Congress to fix the broken immigration system. In order to appropriately fight for the rights of the strangers that we are called to welcome, we need to know their stories. It’s so much harder to fear and hate a person when you know something about his or her life. The article mentioned above highlights some of these people. Wallis says, “They are Dreamers like Zabdi Samuel Olvera, 18, who was brought from Mexico to Charlotte, N.C., at 6 months old, and is currently majoring in computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.” Without opportunities to study and work under the DACA program, many of these young people would miss out on helping future generations.
It’s the battle of the Church and of Christians to step up and start calling legislators to action. Once the Church starts representing those who are oppressed, others will find our radical love alarming. But, is alarming bad if it calls others to action?