As we seek to learn, engage, and grow to be more like Christ in our welcome, we know proximity matters. Getting to know people is the best way to see the value and dignity of each person. And, hearing people’s stories and experiences is a powerful catalyst for fostering understanding, empathy, and compassion.
Throughout 2023, we introduced you to women from our community who are making a difference in the lives of immigrants and refugees either because their hearts were moved to compassion or because of their own immigration experience. If you haven’t met these incredible women, now is your chance!
From four strangers coming together to help a migrant father and his daughter, to a dreamer who is still hoping, to a pastor who turned her church into a shelter at the border to help families in need, there is so much for us to learn from each of their stories.
Take some time and catch up on any you missed before we dive into 2024!
We can feel like there is nothing we can do to help show care to vulnerable people in our communities. We can believe our little effort isn’t enough.
Yet, the Body of Christ has many parts and we each have a role to play. Every small step of welcome adds up to great love.
Joanne, Sarah, Jenn, and Sheila met because they are all a part of the Women of Welcome community. They each found themselves moved by a story of a migrant father and his young daughter and wanted to do what they could to help. Their stories woven together are a beautiful example of what this community is capable of when we work together.
Don’t miss Dreamer Joscelin Reyes’ story of hope and the practical ways we can stand with dreamers. The only way for Dreamers, like Joscelin, to ultimately have stability is for Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution.
The United States has been home to me over the last 24 years, and every time someone asks me where I’m from, I’m tempted to say “Texas.” I stumble over the answer though, as I pause and say, “I was born in Mexico but raised in Texas all of my life.” I am not ashamed of where I come from; I simply have to remember each time someone asks, that there’s another country listed on my birth certificate that I have little to no knowledge about.
“My desire is to create a welcoming climate for all who have made the difficult journey to our shores,” Dara says about her motivation to use her talents for vulnerable communities. “I pray one day we may all live in a world that more closely reflects and resembles the beautiful compassion and deep care that is the true nature of our loving God.”
“I am finding my voice after a long, silent life as an immigrant, and I want others to feel safe and find their voice.”
Yahaira Ramos knows how immigrants in the U.S. often feel: isolated, scared, alone, different—like they don’t belong anywhere. Since gaining her citizenship she is encouraging others as they wait for their immigration appointments. She wants to be a voice for them and for the others who are hiding in the shadows.
Maria is seventy-five years old and walks across the busiest border crossing in the world five days a week to give her time and energy to people from all over the world looking for safety and security.
“Imagine,” she tells us, “that today you couldn’t walk back across the border into the U.S. What if you got stuck here? Would you know anyone to help you—to give you food or a place to stay? These people have no one else to help them.”
Adriana and her husband shepherded the church in Tijuana, Mexico for twenty-nine years. In 2016, they saw the growing population of displaced people around them and knew they must do something to respond. They converted their sanctuary into a shelter and have been helping families in need ever since.
“The immigrant community brings us blessings,” she said. “We are all sojourners and need to serve one another.”
“We want this space to be like an oasis in their journey. The least we can do is provide a place of rest for them.”
Dani Teeple and her husband run the largest organic apple farm in the Northeast. Locals don’t want the jobs, so the farm relies on seasonal migrant workers.
“Our migrant workers are working for a purpose because they are supporting their families at home. We make sure when they get here they feel like this is their home.”
Dani has seen changes over the last few years as it has become more difficult to get visas and more expensive to bring the workers they need. She has also seen a turn in the way migrant workers are viewed and treated in recent years.
“The church needs to do better,” she says. “We need to lead the way in saying how God wants us to treat our fellow humans.”
Every time you pick up an apple, take a moment to consider how many people are impacted by the work that brings food to your table. Let it be a reminder to us of the reasons migrant workers leave home and the opportunity we have to be a welcoming presence for them.