Refugees coming from other countries continue to yearn to arrive in America. They see this undertaking as an escape from the various threats and problems they have faced in their home country. They see an opportunity to live a new life in peace. Many are coming from Central and South American and Caribbean countries, but some are arriving to the southern US border from China and other places.
Recently, opinions were discussed regarding whether the end of Title 42 (a government regulation) would result in many refugees crossing the Rio Grande River into the US. Cameras were trained on the border areas. Where before, Title 42 allowed US officials to turn back migrants due to Covid-19 restrictions, the government now returns to processing asylum requests, with a court appearance date generally to be provided to the migrant to decide their case inside the US.
This matter of immigration can invoke lusty political conversations regarding the rights or wrongs of given immigration policies. Politics aside, a robust review of how God looks at strangers causes the followers of God to be thoughtful in their response to those seeking entrance at the US border. It is in the wisdom and delight of God that we are first citizens of a heavenly kingdom, while continuing on the earth as strangers and pilgrims. It would seem ironic indeed for a stranger/pilgrim on the earth to focus on a political apparatus to maintain political boundaries. We are called to respect the laws of our country, yet also called to respond to strangers in a Christ-like manner. What does Jesus’ call to love our neighbor as our self look like at the southern US border?
ARC is preparing to start an effort especially to the migrants who are being processed by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) as humanitarian parolees at the McAllen, Texas border crossing into the US. We are learning to know this area and are working at finding housing for volunteers who will be arriving and office space out of which to serve the migrants.
The goal of this effort will be to serve as a facilitator for the migrants. We anticipate having an office/receiving location near the CBP border crossing where we can assist the migrants in mundane ways. We hope to offer such things as: a place to recuperate from the summer heat, water and perhaps a basic food item after spending hours being processed at immigration, a play corner for the children or a diaper for the crying baby. Some may need a Wi-Fi connection to make onward arrangements, help with a ticket purchase, or a ride to the airport or bus station.
Recently a group of Haitian migrants were gathered on the sidewalk outside the CBP building after being processed into the US. It seemed like an opportunity to learn more about the story and needs of those who have newly entered the US as migrants. One Haitian man was able to speak English. When asked where they will spend the night, he said, “I don’t know.” He said that they will be travelling on to a US city, but that they had no sponsors (as could be understood). He asked if I had a credit card and whether I could book tickets online for him and his cousin if he could pay for the tickets in cash. After repeated attempts, the purchase was at last made successfully. The next morning, we reminded them to go early to the airport to make the flight. They successfully arrived in their city later that day. He replied in thanks, saying, “Thank you very much. It was a big pleasure for me to meet you. And you are the first American people who help us…” He expressed interest and expectation to meet again sometime.
Yet we recall also our basic spiritual needs. In ARC’s border endeavor, we intend to offer an environment conducive to witness for Christ in these efforts—to show and tell. We plan to have Bibles, Bible storybooks, and other literature available for them. Some migrants have requested whether there are any of the sort of churches in their destination city in America like they see reflected in those Anabaptists who are serving on the Mexico side. We hope to assist them in that regard. Perhaps, one day, a migrant family will request entrance at your church doors to experience what they saw “on the other side of the border.” Let us therefore seek the heavenly Kingdom, which transcends politics.
[The Lord your God]…doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment (Deuteronomy 10:18).
Spring is a lovely season in Minneapolis. It’s a city of many lakes and parks; the burst of green and the return of the waterfowl, the beauty of sparkling water and the lilacs overrunning the yard fences have dazzled us in the last month. It’s also been a season of growth in many ways for us who are working here with ARC, and we’ve been dazzled by the goodness and faithfulness of God in this work.
In April, during the Muslim’s month of Ramadan, classes were not attended as well and we felt like our work was a little stagnant. But with spring came new students and new opportunities. We had picnics with the families of our women students and our men students after Ramadan ended. Those were very good times of connecting with our friends outside of class, and learning more about their culture.
We have begun having Sunday morning worship services at the Teahouse, where morning and evening English classes are held through the week. We’ve had a few of our students attend church. Several of them have accepted Bibles or Bible story books. We have more men and women asking to join classes than we have teachers to teach them. Our evening classes with the young men and boys are lively and growing. We are praising God for the miracles we have seen again and again!
We are privileged to have a team of teachers, house parents and administrators that love this work and are giving their time and energy every day toward the goal of bringing the Kingdom of God more fully into the streets and homes of the Twin Cities. Countless visits in homes, conversations about Jesus and the Bible, shopping trips with students, soccer games, visits to the bank or Social Security office to interpret, fishing expeditions with the boys, ministering to homeless people—the work is endless often confusing or frustrating.
Our biggest need is the prayers of our supporters. We cannot do this work in our own strength. We need prayer that we remain focused on the Kingdom work, that the light of the Gospel would not be dimmed by our lives or our failures, and that the team would work together in love and joy and zeal. Pray that we would have the Spirit and the words of Christ as we answer our students’ questions about our faith and our spiritual life.
We also need volunteers, especially men for the summer and fall. We have had no men sign up for August through October. And we do feel the need for better accommodations for our volunteers and for our English classes. Particularly in the evening classes, when the Teahouse is bursting with boys who have come from apartments and small city houses, we would be delighted to have room for them to spread out or a playground for them to release some energy. Join us in prayer that a better location and building would become available.
“The work is Thine, O Christ our Lord,
The cause for which we stand;
And being thine, ‘twill overcome
It’s foes on every hand…”
Will you come and follow me
If I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know
And never be the same?
If you are interested in serving, please contact Peter: