"The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.
Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.
I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 19:34)
"I was a stranger and you welcomed me." – Jesus
“When Jesus himself wanted to explain to his disciples what his forthcoming death was all about,
he didn’t give them a theory, he gave them a meal.” – N.T. Wright
What is Neighbor’s Table: Experiencing God’s Heart for the Immigrant?
The Neighbor’s Table is a unique experience for church members who are ready to experience God’s heart for the immigrant. Through sharing a meal and stories with an immigrant family, participants have the opportunity to consider welcoming (Matt 25:35) and loving (Lev 19:34) those who are sojourning in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The purpose of Sharing Meals, Sharing Stories includes the following:
- Help individuals better understand God’s own immigration story
- Create empathy for the immigrant experience
- Affirm our unity in Christ—citizen and immigrant
- Provide options for responding to the immigrant experience
What is involved?
This Neighbor’s Table experience takes place in three phases, plus initial preparation.
- Select 7-8 church leaders from your congregation who you are interested in shepherding through cultivating a deeper love for the immigrant and introduce them to the Neighbor’s Table.
- A vetting tool is included in this package in the appendixes.
- Program participants are often those who have had cross-cultural experience, mission trips and/or have revealed their advocacy for immigrants and refugees in your congregation.
- Program is intended for people who seek to learn about immigration and God’s heart towards the immigrant.
- Program is designed to cultivate dialogue and mutual sharing in a safe and open environment. You are looking for people of good will, empathetic, with steady temperament and a desire to learn.
- Participant selection should include a culturally diverse representation of your congregation (e.g. age; gender; race/ethnicity).
- Participants should be willing to participate in all three phases of the project.
Phases (click to expand)
In this experience, participants will hear biblical teaching for God’s heart for the Immigrant, hospitality, and the call for God’s people to love Sojourners. Participants will break into smaller groups and share meals in the home of an immigrant family near Neighborhood Ministries. Then we will return to debrief the experience.
- Date: Sunday, March 8, 2020, 3:00-8:00pm
- 3:00-3:15 Registration
- 3:15-3:45 Introduction (Kit Danley, Dennae Pierre, and Doug Kelley)
- 3:45-4:30 God’s Heart for the Immigrant (Kit Danley)
- 4:30-4:45 Intro to our Families (Jimy Martinez and Fonzy Vazquez)
- 4:45-5:00 Intro to Curriculum (Chris Williams)
- 5:00-7:00 Dinner in Families’ Homes
- 7:00-8:00 Debrief at Neighborhood Ministries (Kit Danley)
- Date: Spring 2020
- This study will be led by your group facilitator in a small group format, scheduled at the convenience of your study participants (once a week, back-to-back sessions every other week, all six sessions in one weekend, whatever works best for your group).
- The study is firmly based in the Scriptures and compiled by Neighborhood Ministries and The Surge Network.
- Each week the study includes short videos with teachings from Kit Danley and other trusted voices. There will also be weekly reading and assignments.
- Date: Saturday, April 25, 2020, 9:00am-12:00pm
- After completing the six-week study (in a seven-week period), we will gather for a breakfast, celebration and final debrief at Neighborhood Ministries.
- Groups will be re-united with their host families from the opening dinner to talk through the experience.
- There will also be opportunities to share with members of other congregations to hear what God has done in their hearts
- Lastly, participants will be presented with concrete Action Steps which will provide opportunities to continue to engage the conversation and serve our immigrant communities.
Outcomes for your Church and Community
Participating in Neighbor’s Table can provide significant benefits to your church and local community.
- Enhanced biblical perspective on immigration and the poor
- Deepened faith, sense of God’s involvement (we all have our own sojourning stories)
- Increased experience of God’s love through
- empathy and compassion for immigrant families
- sense of connectedness with immigrant families
- Increased knowledge regarding immigration
- Increased civic involvement with immigration-related issues
- Potential long-term involvement with immigrant families and/or immigrant communities
- Immigrant family members gain voice in telling their stories in a safe, Christ-centered, environment
- Immigrant family members experience an increase in God’s love through
- empathy and compassion for church members’ stories/experience
- sense of connectedness with church members
Partnership with ASU
Neighborhood Ministries and The Surge Network are partnering with ASU for this project. In an effort to better understand how church members and immigrant family members are responding to our efforts, we have asked a research team at ASU, lead by Dr. Doug Kelley, a long-time partner with our ministries, to help measure the outcomes of Neighbor’s Table: Experiencing God’s Heart for the Immigrant. As such, all meetings will be attended by ASU observers who will take notes of the interactions, and participants will periodically be asked to participate in surveys (see sample questions below) and conduct face-to-face interviews to track how they are responding to the experience. Participation in the study is optional but strongly encouraged. Of course, information gained from this project is strictly confidential.