Editor's Note: Churches have been in the news for reaching out to illegal immigrants. Bruce Wydick recently shared another way churches can help those affected by so many people illegally crossing the border in a recent Christianity Today article.
Migration to the United States has had a devastating impact on families in Central America. I have seen first-hand the negative impacts on families who have lost mothers and fathers to U.S. migration.
International church partnership efforts [can] bring shalom to troubled villages and neighborhoods. One example: Partnership with a North American church can help empower Central American churches, giving them the resources to offer alternatives to narco-gang involvement, address local needs for youth work, after school programs, mentoring, education, and economic development.
I help lead a group called Mayan Partners, a small faith-based non-profit based in Berkeley, California, started by a group of alumni from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Mayan Partners works with local Christians in a single village in the western Guatemala highlands, where we sponsor a middle school, financially support a village library, and work in public health. We have recently initiated the process of importing hand-crafted Christmas ornaments from the village to help create rural jobs. We’ve also begun discussing the idea of importing paint brushes made in the village to boost the local economy. It is hard for organized crime to find recruits in places where everyone already has a job.
New communication technology provides great advantages in this kind of international partnership. Email, Skype, and cheap international calling rates allow for excellent communication between our partners in the village and us. A group of us visits them annually, sometimes more often. If 10,000 of the 350,000-plus North American churches, through their denominations or networks, linked to one sister church in a troubled region in Central America, the long-term results could be spectacular. People would witness the power of the gospel in bringing peace and a measure of prosperity to these areas, as well as addressing a serious international crisis.
Adapted from "Border Crisis = Church Opportunity" by Bruce Wydick, Christianity Today.
Managing Your Churchpreviously covered three key voiceson how churches should respond to illegal immigrants in the church.
For information on how immigration law relates to the church, check outthe downloadable resource Immigration & the Church.
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