The World Across the Street

By Zach Szmara

“He . . . 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 . . .” - Deut. 10:18-19

Many North Americans no longer need a passport to experience the globe; they simply can walk through their changing neighborhoods or drive across their cities and see a multiplicity of different cultures and people groups. Immigration is not new. In a world that is ever-changing, people relocate seeking safety, freedom, or a better life, just as we or our ancestors did. But the scale of the ministry opportunity is on the increase. A grass-roots movement of local Wesleyan churches has answered God’s call to this global mission field that exists in our own backyards. Immigrant Connection is a network of Wesleyans responding to the Spirit of God, bringing churches and immigrants together to cultivate relationships, share resources, provide legal services, and share the love of Christ.

Currently nine Immigrant Connection (IC) offices are open in local Wesleyan churches with another 11 slated to open in the next six months. The first three Immigrant Connection offices to open (The Bridge in Logansport, Ind., Olathe Wesleyan in Kansas City metro, and City Life in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich.) have served 1,023 different individuals and families in just the past 12 months. The immigrants helped at just these three centers came from 57 different countries around the globe.

While the numbers are staggering, the transformative impact comes from each individual story.

  • A Liberian refugee was not allowed to attend school because she is female, but with our help, she is now studying to become a U.S. citizen.
  • An Arabic-speaking church that consists mainly of new believers from Muslim countries struggled to find a pastor. Through IC assistance, a pastor from Egypt is now helping shepherd them.
  • Several children from Central American countries who had been abandoned or abused by their parents now have hope and healing.
  • A Honduran mother was reunited with her daughter after being separated for 10 years.
  • Countless Latino/Latina high school students are now able to attend college or get their first jobs after getting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) approval.
  • A beleaguered Afghani immigrant family has found peace and safety.
  • Several survivors of domestic violence have had Jesus redeem their worst experiences.
  • A Nigerian woman sought to protect her young daughter from the tribal ritual of FGM (female genital mutilation) and has found a haven.

Wesleyan Immigrant Connection churches are a growing part of our Church’s global ministry, offering truth and love in the midst of a system plagued by lies and hostility. What better place for the immigrants already in our communities to find redemption, hope, and a future that is “made new”?

“. . . for you yourselves were foreigners . . .”