How shall we live towards refugees and immigrants?

The issue of foreigners and immigrants is a touchy one, especially with the current landscape of our country. Some, Christians and non-Christians alike, view them as not welcome here, but for others, like Regina Foard, they take a different view, one being a gateway for the Gospel. While it still is a challenging issue, it can be transformed into something tangible, beautiful, and easier to understand. 

Amazingly, not one area of life or society does God’s love not touch. No one is kept from His sight, or His loving reach, including foreigners and immigrants here in the U.S. Deuteronomy 10:19, plainly says, “So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”  

For many years now, Regina’s worked with a lot of immigrants and refugee groups in KC as a Director of Missional Engagement and, before that, as a missions Manager. She’s lived in Kenya for a time. In 2015, she did an ethnic mapping on KC and identified at least 70 different distinct affinity groups, including even smaller ethnic groups. Her ministry has mainly been to Algerians, Syrians, Iraqis, Persians, Ethiopians, Somalians, Latin American groups, South Sudanese and Sudanese. 

God’s wired her with a great disposition towards foreigners, immigrants, refugees, and the cultural world. She’s fascinated by them and drawn to these people and their cultures. She’s seen God do amazing things. He is using her to bring the urgent help our country desperately needs. 

I don’t know about you, but I have been deeply troubled by the influx of illegal immigrants streaming into our country. With the borders wide open, we’re facing a national crisis. Many people have xenophobia, which is a fear of foreigners or immigrants. They fear those who are different. They fear they will take their jobs, have possibly higher crime rates, or that maybe there are jihadists or terrorists. Unfortunately, this negative attitude influences and affects our cultural capability to engage immigrants, legal or illegal.

I have asked and pleaded with God, ‘What are we going to do?’ ‘How are we going to handle this?’ ‘What is Your plan, Lord!?’ After speaking with Regina, I believe He has revealed some of His plans.

Believe it or not, when these refugees, foreigners, and immigrants succeed here, we all succeed. They end up contributing to our society, boosting our economy, and bring other positive effects. But, unfortunately, ignoring them and doing nothing to help them ends up hurting ourselves, too.

So we can start to dispel stereotypes by getting to know people. When you get to know a refugee or immigrant, you’ll quickly find they’re humans just like us. We’re all created in God’s image and reflect Him. We’re all worthy of knowing Jesus. Often, they’re isolated, lonely, and just need a friend. They need someone who cares and to show just a little of God’s love. There are always ways we can help.

We also have to earn the right and trust to speak into their lives. There are some simple, practical ways you can show care and meet some of their needs. You can ask them to tell you their story, how they got here. When Regina asks this, it opens the opportunity to tell her story, which always includes Jesus. It’s an excellent on-ramp to share the Gospel.

When she goes into someone’s home for the first time, she asks, “Can I say a blessing over your home?” When she asks this, she tells them she’s a Christian and loves to pray. Another powerful way she shows care is by asking them, “How can I pray for you?” She has people over for a meal and shares with them some of her favorite recipes. 

If you see that your kids’ friends or classmates are foreigners, get to know the parents. Churches can offer ESL (English as a Standard Language) programs or provide services to help them learn vital processes so simple for us. No one teaches them everyday tasks like getting a doctor’s appointment, finding a doctor, or signing up for health insurance. You could become certified to teach ESL to help learn the language. 

Did you know that 40% of international students who go to school in the U.S. go back and become very high-level government leaders like Prime Ministers and Presidents of their countries? Yet, only 80% of international students never step foot into a Christian home while they’re here. What opportunities we have before us!

Regina is always looking to engage the local church and help them reach the nations. She sees all these immigrant groups and families in KC but with very little interaction and engagement between the local church and these immigrants. There are about 1,800 Disciple-Making Movements (DMM) worldwide now seeing these movements’ 23rd and 24th generations. While there are some DMM’s in the U.S., sadly, it’s been more challenging to start here because of the traditional attraction model of the big box paradigm getting everyone to come to church rather than going out to make disciples. This has to change. Imagine if we could get outside the walls of the church building and reach the nations in our own backyard where we live, learn, work and play. BlessEveryHome.com can also help you achieve this Great Commission.

She’s believed all along that God is bringing the nations right here to us. No longer do we have to go to another country to do missions. He calls us to love, period. This love extends to our neighbors, co-workers, our kids’ friends, and classmates, etc., immigrants or not. We may not like how they got here, but they are here. The heart of God is the nations, near and far. Tremendous opportunity is right on our doorstep to make the most out of some good and some challenging situations. Will we take advantage of these opportunities or let them pass us by? 

If you want to learn more about how you or your church can begin reaching the nations among us, you can contact Regina at foardregina@gmail.com or contact Mission Southside at http://www.missionsouthside.org/ or (913) 393-2200.