It’s easy to feel like there’s nothing but bad news out there. The good news coming out of this community keeps us going and doing what we do. You guys, the women who are part of this community are learning, praying, studying God’s word, advocating, calling their lawmakers, and loving neighbors right in their communities.
Here are just a few glimpses from this past year into the Christlike welcome being developed and poured out by this group of women all over the country. We hope they encourage you and inspire you today to go and do likewise.
Advocacy & Using Your Voice
Many of you jumped into advocacy for the first time this year. We asked you to contact your representatives and tell them why immigration reform mattered to you. And you responded. We had more people step up from this community than ever before on behalf of immigrants and refugees.
“Yes!! Started making my first call to state legislators last month thanks to you guys and @womenofwelcome’s resources; it’s way less intimidating than I thought!”
We also asked women in our community from Florida to speak up about proposed legislation that would criminalize providing transportation to undocumented immigrants. Religious leaders worried it would infringe on religious liberties and freedom.
This community spoke up! You asked your Florida lawmakers to protect religious liberty and your immigrant neighbors.
Your efforts were successful! In the final version of the bill that passed, Florida lawmakers removed references to knowingly transporting undocumented people within the state. It will not be a crime in Florida to drive undocumented immigrants to church.
And, when we shared a video about the inhumane tactics and deterrents being used in Texas along the U.S.-Mexico border, you won’t believe how many Christian women spoke up!
We received hundreds of comments from women sharing their concerns about the dangerous buoys, family separation, and inhumanity toward vulnerable migrants. Your voice matters! We’ve seen change before because of women like you raising their voices. We know inhumane treatment is not the way forward.
We’re so proud of this community. Each contribution was confident, respectful, and treated Governor Abbott and his staff the way we wish they would treat migrants.
Advocacy can look a lot of ways. Maybe you make phone calls on your lunch break, or send emails while feeding a baby, or write letters while you relax at the end of the day. Maybe it’s something else we haven’t even thought of!
As Christians, we are encouraged to not grow weary of doing good. We need to continue to speak the truth that immigrants are created in the image of God.
Standing with Dreamers
“This is what comprehensive immigration reform can look like: me hugging my grandmother after 22 years,” says Ana, a member of the Women of Welcome community and a DACA recipient.
Ana graciously shared her story with us about how she reunited with her family in Mexico for the first time in 22 years.
“As a dreamer, I am not able to leave the country without special permission, called advance parole, without fear of not being able to return home to the United States,” Ana explains. “I’m so thankful to God for allowing me to hold my loved ones again!”
The only way for Dreamers like Ana to ultimately have stability is for Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution.
Ana’s story moved our hearts to compassion, and moved us to action! In February 2023, the bipartisan Dream Act of 2023 was introduced into the Senate. Many of you contacted your senators. Our elected officials are much more likely to vote for solutions if they are convinced that their constituents see it as a priority.
Unfortunately, The Dream Act still has not been passed. We need to continue to ask our elected officials to stand up for Dreamers by passing legislation that would allow immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to receive permanent protections to live and work here without fear of deportation.
“This Dreamer would love a pathway to citizenship so she can travel to Mexico every single year and be able to return home,” says Ana.
Compassion Into Action
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.
A member of the Women of Welcome community reached out to us last year to tell us an incredible story that is an example of the way the little we have to offer adds up, the way each part of the body is needed to show a Christlike welcome we can’t accomplish on our own.
An asylum seeker had reached out to her on Facebook – a happy “accident,” it seemed. She connected with him and did what she could to help. She knew the need was bigger than she could meet, so she reached out to the Women of Welcome community.
The response sent a ripple through the community. Ultimately, four women in our community put their compassion into action, and lives were changed.
We cannot do everything. But we can find our own unique ways to get closer to people and to do something to help.
Sarah Quezada on our team and her daughter signed up for airport accompaniment with a local nonprofit that helps recently released asylum seekers navigate the airport: securing boarding passes, clearing security, and finding the right gates.
“There were a few hiccups along the way,” says Sarah. “Our Spanish is weak, but we made it work. Some flights needed to be changed. We prayed for kind agents and talked with family members on the phone. Navigating a huge airport in another country and language is overwhelming. We hope they felt welcomed in their new home!”
Another way many of you put welcome into action was through hospitality. As Women of Welcome, we know sharing a meal allows people to come together and connect on a deeper level. It provides an opportunity for conversation, storytelling, laughter, and the exchange of ideas.
This year Bri, Sarah, and some of our Women of Welcome community members had the incredible opportunity to get to know Farishta, an Afghan refugee who has resettled in the U.S., as they cooked and shared a meal along with Mexican chef, Pati Jinich, on her cooking show.
“Showing love by feeding people is part of our shared humanity,” says Pati. “Cultures all over the world, including Afghanistan where Farishta is from, have dishes that are special for bringing people together, but it isn’t always easy to find people to share within a new country.”
When is the last time you gathered around the table with someone and learned more about them through food?
Practicing Biblical Welcome
We are always so excited to hear the ways women around the country are growing in their understanding of biblical welcome and getting out and practicing it in their communities!
There is no small contribution to welcome. It could be changing your mind on an issue you haven’t been willing to engage with before. It could be stepping out of your normal routine to engage with immigrants in your neighborhood. It could be volunteering or loving with your resources.
Here are ways you have practiced biblical welcome this year:
“I got to welcome a new refugee family to America with fellow women of welcome. We were all touched by the sweet family that arrived, a young couple and their five-year-old. They knew no one a few hours ago and now they have friends here. The father said he expected to be searched, screened and interviewed when he arrived. He did not expect a welcome crew, smiling ear to ear. His wife began to cry when she realized we were there for her. They were scared. He asked us how life would look in America, how would they get a job, how would his wife learn English, and how would their son get medical care. His caseworker assured him she would walk with him through it all. I even told him we have English classes in Tulsa for his wife. It was amazing to see his worry turn to peace. It was a good reminder of why we do this work. If you are looking for a simple way to get involved, call your local resettlement agency.”
“I’ve been a volunteer at my church’s ESL Ministry for years and just helped start our second location in another part of the city.”
“I helped resettle seven Vietnamese families 30 years ago and we’re still friends with most of them. Working with Afghans now. They’re very different in their desires and work ethic, but equally delightful. Both have enriched our lives greatly.”
“I’m new here but have been in the work of refugee welcome for close to two decades. I currently teach refugee studies. Thanks for letting me join in. I love seeing all the opportunities for learning.”
“Thanks so much for sharing again so I can share. I have learned so much from the group and their resources on my journey to advocate for the asylum seekers at our borders. God has opened so many doors because I said yes in 2019 to go to visit the Tent City in Matamoras and a shelter in McAllen. Thanks for all you do Women of Welcome, and for being a part of my journey. I have met some amazing people being the hands and feet of Jesus.”