On June 19, 2012, a press conference was held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a national, evangelical hub, to further promote the Evangelical Immigration Table. The intention was both to encourage a united evangelical front for immigration reform and to seek a common, biblically mandated vision for helping create a better life for immigrants in America. This post is the last in a series of three documenting what was shared by several local Colorado Springs leaders during the press conference. The immigration issue is not a charity project. I’m very grateful for the way many evangelical leaders have come together and agreed on the fact that our undocumented immigrant brothers and sisters need the Church to be the Church during these times. But I would also like to remind all of us who are involved in this coalition, and all of the parishioners that we each represent, that our compassionate efforts should not be a mere charity project. Standing alongside our undocumented population in solidarity is not a charity project. If you think about it, you don’t necessarily have to love your neighbor when you become involved in a charity project. Instead, I think that Christ’s compassion is much deeper than that. It’s a compassion that has nothing to do with serving people “from way up here.” Instead, it’s an attitude that comes from somewhere deep in our hearts and allows us to see our neighbors eye to eye, equal to equal. Biblical justice calls us to see undocumented immigrants the way we see ourselves. And the longing of my heart is that the leaders and parishioners getting involved with this effort will inspire this kind of Christ-like compassion within our cities and throughout the nation. As pastors we have a great responsibility to teach our congregations to see our undocumented immigrant families as the neighbors that Jesus instructs us to love. My prayer is that we will continue to move forward in this effort to bring the Church together in support of the many men, women and children who are currently living on the margins of society.
Jaime Lázaro is a journalist, pastor, immigrant rights activist and co-founder of Network of Pastors and Latino Leaders of Southern California. Please note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of everyone associated with G92 or any institutions with which the blogger may be affiliated. We’re always looking for new guest bloggers; please check out our Guest Blog Submission Guidelines if you’re interested.