Loving the Stranger

 

WDC asked for brief stories of what congregations are doing to minister with immigrants and refugees.  These   accounts are some responses of how you are “loving the stranger” in your congregational and community          contexts.  And we know that a great amount of loving service is being provided by many more congregations in our conference!

Community Engagement

Mennonite Church of the Servant (Wichita, KS) has a long history of involvement with their neighbors on the margins.  They have a member who helped form Sunflower Action, a community organizing group, serving the needs of immigrants and refugees.  Another member of the congregation is currently being trained as a paralegal, so in his spare time he can offer legal advice to immigrants.  Enough people are concerned about justice for immigrant neighbors that their congregation has formed an Immigration Servant Group to help coordinate the congregation’s ministries in this area.

Serving the Strangers Among Us

Shalom Mennonite Church (Newton, KS) was concerned about refugees moving into Central Kansas with little or no resources.  The congregation decided to partner with Episcopal Migration Ministries of Wichita.  For over a year, congregation members have provided household items to assist refugee families arriving in the U.S. legally in setting up their new households.  One family has made close connections with the church.  They wanted to move from Wichita to the Newton/Hesston area because the father has a job with Excel. Someone from Shalom donated a car.  Others helped them look for local housing, while still others helped them get out of their Wichita lease.  They began attending Shalom because church members near their new home reached out to them in Christian love.  Pastor Rachel Ringenberg Miller encourages others who might consider this ministry to “move forward with the gifts God has given you.  It may or may not result in deeper relationships, but be open to whatever comes.”

Loving the Stranger One Family at a Time

Another WDC congregation ministers to the needs of an undocumented family.  The former minister reached out to the family through local community activities.  They started attending worship, felt welcomed, and ultimately became church members.  The present pastor and a support team of church members has helped the family become even more integrated into the congregation and the community. Because of this family, the congregation has a deeper understanding of the broken immigration system in our country.  There have been many milestones to celebrate with them, too—a baptism, a coming-of-age Quinceañera party, a baby shower, and other special events. One of the sons is now interested in exploring ministry. They bring “unexpected sources of life for our congregation,” reflected the pastor.

Community Engagement

Mennonite Church of the Servant (Wichita, KS) has a long history of involvement with their neighbors on the margins.  They have a member who helped form Sunflower Action, a community organizing group, serving the needs of immigrants and refugees.  Another member of the congregation is currently being trained as a paralegal, so in his spare time he can offer legal advice to immigrants.  Enough people are concerned about justice for immigrant neighbors that their congregation has formed an Immigration Servant Group to help coordinate the congregation’s ministries in this area.

Education

Eden Mennonite Church (Moundridge, KS) has studied the book, Radical Hospitality:  Benedict’s Way of Love.  It has spurred them to consider new ways they might welcome the stranger.  This and many other resources are available in the WDC Resource Library.  If your congregation is at a distance from the library, contact Jennie Wintermote, Library Director, and she’ll be happy to box up adult and children’s books and DVDs on refugee and migrant issues and mail them to you.

“For the Lord your God…defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19).

 

 

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