Many of us desire to lead our congregations to become change agents, to be Jesus with skin on, inside the politically and socially charged familial conversations around immigration. This is a burden you have shared with us.
We reach out to you because you have expressed a desire to help your congregation grow in sharing God’s heart for our immigrant neighbors. But how do we do this, when social media, news outlets, and political pundits seem to have a 24/7 discipleship strategy for shaping men and women in our churches to view their neighbors with fear and hostility?
The Bible is clear in God’s emphatic call to “love the immigrant as we love ourselves” – Lev. 19:34. The Bible is clear in that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation – Matthew 22:37-39. The Bible is clear that God, in a very real sense, judges the authenticity of our faith by how we welcome the immigrant – Matthew 25:40. And The Bible is clear that we can only relate rightly to our immigrant neighbor; most of whom share the bond of brothers and sister in Christ; through empathy, compassion, and love because of how Jesus who has brought us foreigners and welcomed us into the Kingdom of God – Ephesians 2:12-14. The Neighbor’s Table: Experiencing God’s Heart for the Immigrant invites pastors with their small groups from our local churches willing to enter a six session journey to experience God’s heart for the immigrant in a deeper, more profound way. It is our desire and commitment to help you lead your congregation forward to better see and know God’s heart for others. We hope this becomes a tool to deepen your congregation’s love for God, people, and help us all take steps toward reconciliation within the Bride of Christ.
The Neighbor’s Table is a project sponsored by three partners, The SURGE Network, Neighborhood Ministries and ASU. We are each troubled by the division, racial tension, fear, and anxiety that seem to color every national and local conversation in the media. For Neighborhood Ministries, this is more than news headlines, it is the everyday experience of families we have loved and served for 40 years in the heart of Phoenix. For our SURGE pastors, we are concerned that only 12% of evangelical Christians say their views around immigration are mostly shaped by the Bible, our flock is being discipled by someone other than Jesus. Our partner, ASU, secured a small grant to study this project.
Attached you will find a full description of this experience as well as a form letter you could use to invite people to participate in your group. We have also prepared a video that will help you with your invitations.
Thank you for your partnership in the gospel of Jesus. Your work as a pastor is deeply encouraging to us.
President, Neighborhood Ministries
Executive Director, Surge Network
Dr. Doug Kelley
Professor, Arizona State University