Illegal Immigrants and the church

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by tinytim, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. tinytim

    tinytim
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    OK, I am honestly looking for opinions...

    I have been participating in our convention's Hispanic Ministries for a couple months now. Most of the Hispanics here are from PR and therefore are legal...

    But I have been wondering "what if?"

    I have a feeling our church will be getting some Hispanics coming to it in a few months..

    And suppose one comes, gets saved, and we find out they are illegally here.

    What am I to do?

    What resources can I use to help them gain US Citizenship.

    I really need to educate myself on immigration laws. I see that now.

    But what would you do?
    Would you deny church membership to someone who is not in the US legally?

    My first inclination is to deny them... based on them not obeying the laws of the land...

    BUT... no where in the Bible is American Citizenship required for Heavenly Citizenship.

    I am hoping some of you wiser pastors can give me some advice. Maybe some of you from heavily Hispanic areas. I don't have this problem now, but I want to stay ahead of the game.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Bro. Curtis

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    Christ said "Go and sin no more".

    It would be my inclination to refuse membership, and encourage them to turn themselves in.

    Protection of the ministry would be a priority.
     
  3. preachinjesus

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    This is a big issue where I serve.

    Our church has taken the position that we provide them shelter, food, clothing, times for worship, prayer, and help with legal and medical expenses as needed and even linking them with employment on limited basis. That said we also work with them in understanding their relationship with Romans 13.

    We don't broadcast this service nor do we advocate that they remain in the states. We have several members who work, pro bono, to help families stay together when the government threatens to deport the parents.

    This is a messy issue. Too many politicos are driving this topic imho. The church's position should always be grace and aid with the teaching of abiding by the laws in according with the NT teachings.

    We shouldn't get tangled up in the to deport or not to deport. We shouldn't get tangled up in the legalities or the legislative issues around citizenship. Rather, we should advocate for them before God and provide hospitality and generous love always.

    Just our position. :)
     
  4. OldRegular

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    Nowhere in the Bible is baptism into a Baptist Church required for Heavenly Citizenship!
     
  5. Revmitchell

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    What ever the law requires.

    See an immigration Attorney but in many cases you will be aiding illegal activity.


    Most likely

    But we are to obey the laws of the land. However, how many church members have a fuzz buster?

    I pastored in a heavily Hispanic area 66% because of the orange groves. They used to be transients from one crop to another but in the last few years they quit traveling and settled down. Every Anglo church has at least one Hispanic mission and there are no self supporting Hispanic churches. The majority are Mexican illegals. Recently they have begun a mass, exodus with work slacking, and going home.

    I believe you are being wise in looking ahead. Check with an immigration attorney and get all the legal scoop you want. Also check with these guys and they will give you free counsel as well.
     
  6. PastorMark

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    What about Luke 20:25 where Jesus says, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's." And likewise Mark 12:17 and Matthew 22:21.

    My study of this portion of scripture always taught me that we are to follow man's law so long as it doesn't conflict with God's law. I would think that if a Hispanic person wants to be one of God's children, they should first obey man's law. Nothing about obeying immigration laws conflict with God's law so far as I can see, so Jesus' instruction would be to obey the law.

    PastorMark.
     
  7. donnA

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    How many times have we discussed on here about illegals being crinimals, thats why they're called illegal aliens. Past salvation, they should not be aided at all other then to get them to turn themselves in. How many other criminals, who've not answered for tehir crimes, would a church help? Would we give aid to a child molester and help theme evade the law, how about a murderer or bank robber? A crime is a crime, and crossing the borders illegally is a crime. Nothing about salvation, nothing in the bible says we should forget a persons current illegal activities.
     
  8. tinytim

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    How many of you that are answering has even dealt with Hispanic families?

    For instance... Here is a case study... What would you do?

    Suppose there is a child that comes to your church, a little 9 yr old girl that has lived in your hometown since a Baby. Her parents came to your hometown when she was only 6 months old. The reason they came was to provide for their daughter a life that they couldn't provide for her in Bolivia. You see, in Bolivia, they lived at the Garbage dumps, and she would have been dead had they not escaped that situation.

    Now, this little girl has ONLY known your hometown, she is getting an education and is doing great. Now, this little girl has started coming to your church for Sunday School. She learns about Jesus, and decides to get saved. Upon counseling the pastor learns of her family's illegal status. What is he to do?

    Report them and send this innocent child back to the trash heaps of Bolivia? If he does, it will be a 80% chance of a death sentence for her.
    Now suppose she has a younger brother that was born in the states. He is a Citizen of the US because he was born here... So should he report them, and split this family?

    These are everyday questions that have to be addressed.
    Can you honestly tell me that Jesus would say, "Come to me, and I will send you to live in a garbage heap"...?

    NOW... before you say things are black and white,

    Put yourself in their shoes... IF your family was dying from starvation, and a deer came onto your property, would you kill the deer out of season to feed your family?
    I would.

    This is no different than some families coming into the US in order to provide for their family.

    NOt every situation is cut and dry. Should we uphold immigration laws if it means the family affected would be subjected to the starvation of their children, or possibly split up, leaving children here in the US without their mother or father?

    When God looks down from Heaven, does he see boundaries? Or does he see humans that need the love of the church?

    As you can tell, I am really struggling with these what if scenarios.
    Everything used to be Black and White to me, until I started working with some families in a nearby town, and I have seen families split up, and children hurting.
     
  9. PastorMark

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    Not meaning to sound crass, but it appears you already knew your position on this topic before you asked the question. If you feel it is Biblical to help Hispanics break the law, then just do it. That is between you and God, and nothing anyone here says is going to matter.

    PastorMark.
     
  10. tinytim

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    No, I don't have my mind made up.. because I know that we can't help people break the law... It is a sin to do so.

    I am playing devil's advocate here in hopes that we can think through these situations, and not just give the easy answers. like, "Deport them".. .
    Remember these may be new born babes in Christ... We also have the responsibility to disciple them.

    I am just wondering if there are pastors or church leaders out there that have faced situations like this, and what steps must be taken to accomplish 2 things:

    1) Help the people involved to become LEGAL
    And
    2) Make sure the ministry is safe and secure by not breaking the law.

    Does anyone know if a church can sponsor someone in order to help them gain legality? You know, if an illegal gets saved, and is convicted (which they should be) of their illegal status.. what steps should they take?
     
  11. MrJim

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    Corrie ten Boom should have obeyed the "law of the land" too...:flower:
     
  12. Mexdeaf

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    Tim,

    I was a missionary in Mexico for almost 10 years. I now live and minister less than 10 miles from the Mexican border and work with Hispanic families nearly every day.

    Our policy is "Don't ask, don't tell."

    It is not my job to report crime, except in cases where lives or well-being are at stake.

    I would NEVER encourage illegal activity. We do not give employment to undocumented workers. We do however, give food and ministry assistance where it is needed. Our church has a thriving Spanish ministry on BOTH sides of the border- the Mexican side meets in the morning and the Amerian side in the afternoon. One man pastors both works. Some of the people attend both services.

    It is also not my job to help them become legal. That is between them and the US government.

    If an illegal should come to Christ and be convicted about their status- and they were to come and tell me- I would advise them to "go home", however, that is not always the practicable thing to do.

    Sadly a lot of the problems are a result of TERRIBLE immigration laws.

    I don't have all the solutions, but the answer is definitely NOT to just ignore the need.
     
  13. tinytim

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    Thanks Mexdef.. that helps.
     
  14. preachinjesus

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    We have a large hispanic church that is part of the larger ministry of the church wher I get to serve. We have about 500 hispanics who attend a spanish only service on Sundays.

    Also we live in a growing county that is seeing the most growth coming from the hispanic population. Thus, we see many families coming through our various clothing, food, shelter, and benevolence ministries.

    As Mexdeaf said above, many of our immigration rules are both archane and prejudicial towards hispanic populations. This is politics thing and I don't want to get too far into it without permission. Suffice to say there is more than meets the eye with current immigration laws.

    I summarized my position above. To suggest providing aid and comfort to these people who sit at the margins of society is "aiding and abetting" criminal activity is not accurate. We are commanded to show these people decency, love, and hospitality as a visible demonstration of faith, just like everyone else. When someone comes and asks for help we don't have a box at the top of the form that asks "are you a legal citizen" that isn't hospitality.

    We council people to consider their response in light of Romans 13 and other passages. Yet we will do this after we provide for their needs.

    These are people who have families they are attempting to provide for. If for no other reason, our common humanity demands we show them decency.

    The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a case study for us. The Samaritan would be an illegal Mexican day laborer today (or maybe an Arab.) We should be like the Samaritan.
     
  15. donnA

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    I guess it depends,, do you want to teach these new christians crime is ok for christians? They do not have to obey laws that they don't want too (these would be laws that do not contradict scripture). Thats the plain and simple of it. Is it alright for christians to commit crimes and other christiasn to help them.
     
  16. Salty

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    I want to get into the political side of this, but I do not want to hijack Tinys thread. :tonofbricks:

    So click on this link
     
  17. tinytim

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    Donna, would you care to take a stab at my case study I posted...
    How would you handle the situation?

    Would you be OK with deporting a child if you knew these 2 things...

    Deportation would mean certain death from Starvation.
    And
    Deporting 4 family members would leave a child behind (say a 5 yr old little boy) with no family.

    ????

    See, I used to think it was plain and simple too..
    But if we look at these issues, immigration and the church is really messy.

    Where would you draw the line? Would you uphold immigration laws if they go against the rules Jesus left for us?
    Specifically Matthew 25, starting at verse 31...
    Mat 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
    Mat 25:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats:
    Mat 25:33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
    Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
    Mat 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
    Mat 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
    Mat 25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink?
    Mat 25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]?
    Mat 25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
    Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.
    Mat 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
    Mat 25:42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
    Mat 25:43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
    Mat 25:44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
    Mat 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me.
    Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.


    Or do this passage of scripture only apply to law abiding citizens of the US?
     
  18. Revmitchell

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    One extreme case does not set precedent for every illegal. But more importantly man you got to check with an immigration attorney. Having the pastor in jail is not going to help anyone.
     
  19. JohnDeereFan

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    Call immigration and then help him find a good church back home after he's deported.

    Well, technically, living here illegally would be sin, as we're commanded to observe the law, so we couldn't accept them as members as long as they're committing this ongoing sin.

    I'd call INS and allow them to visit the church for as long as it takes for INS to pick them up.

    Church membership and salvation are not the same thing.
     
  20. Thinkingstuff

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    You can also look at this website: http://www.ice.gov/ there is a lot of information here you can use.
     

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