The Christian Bible has a lot to say about immigrants. In fact, the Hebrew word “ger,” the closest word to our concept of an immigrant, appears 92 times in the Old Testament alone. There is not room in this column to share all the passages, but here are a few:

“You shall not oppress a foreigner; you know the heart of a foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).

“When a foreigner resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress them. The foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:34-35).

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

As our country struggles with yet another cycle of looking for someone to blame for our troubles, the controversies surrounding travel bans, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and building a wall along our border with Mexico may tempt some to dehumanize those who are “other,” a social habit as old as civilization itself. However, the Bible makes it clear that for people of faith, our obligation is to be as kind as we possibly can, not to perpetrate as much bigotry as we can get away with. Our call is to welcome the stranger, and treat them as our neighbor.

When Jesus implored us to care for the “least of these” — he was calling on us to defend and care for those who are most vulnerable. Right now, almost 800,000 young people (DACA recipients) are living in fear of deportation. They came to this country as children, many of them with parents who were looking to give them a better life.

For a country that many insist on referring to as a “Christian nation,” our response ought to be obvious. “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

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Ryder is co-pastor of New Covenant Community, a congregation in Normal. She can be reached via email at susan@nccnormal.org.


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