Alan Cross works with churches and Christians across Southeast America to develop a Biblical perspective on immigration and refugees. He is the author of When Heaven and Earth Collide and hosts a podcast on issues of faith and social/cultural issues.
Here are some highlights from the interview with Alan. Listen to the entire segment here.
What do we need to know?
We are in the midst of a crisis. PEW reported this week a record-high number of people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Almost one out of 100 people worldwide have fled their homes due to violence or persecution.
Additionally, as we hear about refugees around the world, the situations in Europe and the US are very different. Refugees who have come into Europe have not been vetted- they often have gotten on a boat or walked to Europe.
Refugees coming to the United States are entering the hardest way to get into the country. It is a 13 step process, which takes between 18-24 months. But consider if a resident of Europe has a clean passport, they can get a three-month visa to visit the US as a tourist and travel wherever you want.
What is shaping our perspective on immigration and refugees?
Only 1 in 10 Evangelical Christians say the biggest influence on their views of immigration is the Bible.
We want to develop a biblical view of immigrants. We start with Scripture to understand the heart of God. The Bible is full of references to people movements and migration.
For example, in Exodus 22:21-24, God specifically commands His people, “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”
God is reminding them of their own bondage and deliverance, so when people come to you who are living in bondage, you are to remember when you were in bondage. God is not just saying this is a nice thing to do. He ties it to their deliverance, telling them, how you respond to them directly correlates to how well you remember Me and what I have done for you.
If we don’t recognize the people who are brought to us in need- if we don’t love them sacrificially the way Christ has loved us, something has gone wrong in our own understanding of our salvation because God has delivered us.
So now what?
There are already 41 million foreign born people residing in the United States. The question is: once someone is here, how are you going to treat them? Are you going to shun them out of fear? Or run to them with the love of Christ?
Could it be that God is allowing the nations to come here, to test our hearts in how we respond to them?
Some practical ideas:
- Gather a group at church and pray how you can be a blessing and serve those in the your community
- Consider starting and ESL class
- Go to a local school and see if any immigrnt kids or families are having a hard time adapting
Finally, be willing to see the person in front of you as God does and speak for them. The call of the believer to speak up on behalf of the vulnerable:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. – Proverbs 31:8-9
My life already belongs to Christ. I am not here to protect and defend my way of life, but to lay down my life.
Additional Resources and Study Materials:
Evangelical Immigration Table
Listen to the entire interview with Alan, and Suud, a young man who lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for 20 years before coming to the US.