Immigrant Hope was started with a dual purpose. The first is serving immigrants – addressing both their legal and spiritual needs. God has special concern for immigrants and vulnerable and often exploited people in any society, and commands his people to care for them. We have spent a lot of time and ink on this purpose, and it is the focus of our Mission Statement.
The second purpose is equally important and, if anything, closer my and Alex’s heart and passion but it tends to get missed because it is not as obvious and we have, I think, neglected it in our communications. I’ve come to think of it as the silent partner in Immigrant Hope’s mission.
The second purpose of Immigrant Hope is to encourage and equip the church to live out the mission God has given to it. We are committed to seeing Christians use their God-given talents, privileges, and time to show people God’s love in tangible ways, build relationships with people outside their natural circles, and share the good news of Jesus Christ. When workers love others simply because God loves them, they grow closer to God’s heart. When they sacrifice for those same people, they gain deeper understanding of Christ’s sacrifice. When they build relationships with people who are different than themselves, they see the power of the gospel to build a united church. When they take on a difficult project for the sake of the kingdom, they learn to rely on the Holy Spirit. When they experience stories of immigration, they have a reference point for our role as sojourners on earth – in the world but not of it. All of this can contribute to bringing the workers, as well as their clients, closer to Christ-likeness. In a word, it contributes to their discipleship. If that happens, Immigrant Hope is worthwhile, even if no immigrant gets a green card or comes to know Christ directly through our efforts.
I have had few opportunities to provide direct legal services to immigrants since moving to Minnesota last Fall, so my main avenue for making disciples through Immigrant Hope is building into the workers. Though it was always a core purpose, this experience has made me think about it in a lot more detail.