When Illegal Immigration Hits The Church

This post originally appeared on my personal blog – Just Flip The Dog

I’ve been on a rather whirlwind tour the last 10 days or so down in Georgia promoting my new book, Everyone Needs A Sam.  I’d call it a success. I’ve learned a lot, the Little Black Dress and the Sons of Thunder got play time with friends. A good trip.

Yet I also learned, and saw, one of the most powerful expressions of pure love at an Atlanta church where I spoke about my book and our need for mentors.  Seeing what this church was going through almost made me feel in the way.  I felt like an interruption, yet despite what this church was facing, they still welcomed me with open arms.

My little book and I felt pretty insignificant. The one saving grace for me was my book is about mentors, and how true mentors stand by you when everyone else has deserted. I saw the most awesome display of that ever at this small church.

You see, one of their members was arrested during a traffic stop. During the investigation, the police found out the member in question was an illegal immigrant.

We’ll call her “M,” a Hispanic woman who has lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years. Illegally. She currently is in Alabama at an immigration holding center awaiting a deportation hearing.

“We don’t dispute the guilt,” the pastor said at each of the three services I attended. “We are asking and appealing on humanitarian reasons.”

Those reasons?

During those two decades, “M” has worked odd jobs – anything – to support her family. You see, she has five children. They were all born in the United States. They are, constitutionally, and under the eyes of the law, American citizens. As American as you are.

Her oldest son just completed boot camp with the U.S. Army. He is off to college under an ROTC scholarship and after that and additional training, will be a commissioned officer in the Army.

Several members of that church stood up and talked about “M.” While in a detention center in Atlanta, she spent her time translating the Bible for other women being held.  She could have wallowed in self-pity, instead she helped others. She witnessed about her faith.

It was fascinating to watch various members of the church get up and speak, not only about “M” and all she had done for the church, but about illegal immigration.

In a  nutshell, the speakers acknowledged they had different views of illegal immigration and what should be done. Don’t we all?  But that wasn’t the point, and every member of that church threw out their personal views on the subject.

Because one of their own needed their help. And that was all that mattered.

“She is a member of this church … she is my sister,” said a 50-something white man with tears in his eyes.

And so during three different services over the weekend, a collection was taken for “M” to help hire a lawyer and to provide money for her kids during this time.  Pockets and wallets were emptied repeatedly; checks were written time and time again.

And at the last service on Sunday, at the very end, the pastor asked anyone who wanted to come up and pray for “M,” her family, the judges and anyone else involved in the case.

Every single member of that church went up. White, black, Hispanic; from little children to those in their 80s.

Every. Single. Member.

And I was, simply, blown away.  There is no easy answer to illegal immigration. But watching a church put aside its own differences on the subject and join together to help own of their own was the most amazing display of true Christian love I’ve had the privilege to experience.

It’s easy to talk about illegal immigration and what should be done when you look at it from far away and with a broad stroke. But bring it down to the personal level, the individual level, and it’s a whole new ballgame.

I don’t have the national answer. But I saw the individual answer at that church.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *