Rondell Treviño, Founder & President, Memphis immigration Project
Romans 12:13 says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
In the verse above, the word Hospitality (Philoxenia) in the original language means love for strangers. In other words, the word hospitality means love for Immigrants, documented and undocumented.
Usually, we correlate hospitality with having our friends and family over for a meal and spending time with them. However, Jesus makes it definitively clear that our hospitality must extend to those outside of our friends and family, including Immigrants, documented and undocumented.
For example, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), there’s a man who was beaten and left half dead on the side of the road. A Priest walks on the road, sees the beaten man, and walks past him on the other side. Shortly after, a Levite does the exact same thing. Finally, a Samaritan–someone who is half Gentile and half-Jew–an Immigrant and outsider in his own right, has compassion and shows hospitality to the beaten man by using all of his available resources—oil, wine, money, riding animal, and energy in order to help save him. The Samaritan wasn’t a relative and didn’t know the beaten man, but he understood that hospitality extends to everyone, not just those within his own friendship and family circle.
As Christians and people of good will, we are called to do the exact same thing towards Immigrants, documented and undocumented. There are 50 million plus Immigrants in the U.S., of which 11 million are undocumented. There are 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who came to the U.S. as young babies and children without any choice in the matter, of which 8,000 plus live in the State of Tennessee and 2,000 live in Memphis. These Immigrant Dreamers with DACA are on the brink of losing their protective status for crimes they didn’t commit. In fact, this is a reality because 122 DACA recipients lose their status every day, which is nearly 1,000 a week. Millions of Immigrants, documented and undocumented, are physically and spiritually beaten down like the man in the Good Samaritan Parable (Luke 10:25-37), and it’s the job of the Church–a people on mission to show hospitality to them.
Here are three ways we can show hospitality to Immigrants this Christmas season:
- Seek. Notice the word seek in Romans 12:13 listed above. This word literally means to pursue. This word pursue means to follow (someone or something) in order to catch or attack them. This Christmas season, I encourage all of us to pursue Immigrants in the city of Memphis or wherever God has placed you in order to show hospitality to Immigrants. Seek Immigrants by googling local organizations that serve Immigrant families and go volunteer. Seek to call your Congressman and Senators and urge them to help pass legislation that protects Immigrant Dreamers with DACA so they can stay in the U.S. and earn legalized status. If you’re someone who wrestles with the Immigrants who are undocumented and use Romans 13 as your starting place of obeying the Governing authorities, also use Matthew 5:44 as a starting place to love your enemies(undocumented Immigrants).
- The Dinner Table. One of the most misused places God has given us to show hospitality to Immigrants is our very own dinner table. Our dinner tables are usually filled with friends and family, but because hospitality commands us to go beyond this, we have an amazing opportunity to use our dinner table this Christmas season to have an Immigrant family over for a meal. Have a meal is an icebreaker to building authentic relationships with people, especially Immigrants. Call or email a local Immigration organization and ask if they might know a family who would be willing to have dinner with your family–I promise, there will be at least one Immigrant family available.
- Give. There are several organizations in Memphis and around the country that faithfully serve Immigrants every single day. At memphis immigration Project, the more generous gifts we receive, the better we can inspire everyone, everywhere to love their Immigrant neighbor by equipping communities, advancing policies, and providing Dreamer Scholarships for DACA recipients longing to pursue higher education. If you would like to give to Memphis immigration Project, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you feel compelled to give to another organization, simply google “Immigration organizations near me” and choose the place God is calling you to give to in order to show hospitality to Immigrants.
Memphis immigration Project exists to inspire everyone, everywhere to love their Immigrant neighbor.