Posted on : Tuesday August 20, 2013

Flags of the WorldBy Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent

VIERS MILL, Md.—Nearly 100 people attended an immigration conference in June in an effort to understand how the church can and should respond to this sensitive topic that even large well-known churches acknowledge they’re still trying to “figure out” as they struggle with being obedient to Romans 13 and Matthew 25.

The event, “For Such a Time as This,” held at Viers Mill Baptist Church, was sponsored by Embrace Silver Spring, Montgomery Baptist Association and the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and featured speakers from the United States Citizenship Immigration Services and World Relief Organization.

The conference speakers focused on the requirements of becoming legal citizens, the rights and responsibilities; the legal issues surrounding immigration, and the biblical perspective.

Natasha Lester from the United States Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS)—Department of Homeland Security, focused on the topic of “Life, Liberty and the Law,” sharing the responsibilities of citizenship and why it takes preparation and a need for the church to step up by providing opportunities such as English as a Second Language (ESL) and Preparatory Citizenship classes.

World Relief Capacity Building Attorney Specialist Courtney Tudi shared an overview of immigrant law, sharing that it can be very tricky and that churches need to understand what is and isn’t “practicing law.”

Lance Conklin, Esq., Director, Immigrant Legal Services Technical Unit, focused on the biblical perspective.

“The Great Commission calls us to go and make disciples and often our gaze as Christians seeking to share one’s faith is to look beyond our backyard and across the seas and we miss the world that has come to us,” Bill George, pastor of Kensington Baptist Church, said.

George said the Montgomery Baptist Association is one of the most diverse associations representing many languages and backgrounds.

“The challenge of Embrace Silver Spring is to reach a truly international community with Christ’s love and to assist churches in fulfilling their missionary purpose,” he said.

“Without becoming aware and sensitive to the needs of the immigrant, we can never reach them with the life-changing love of Christ. Now is the time to make a difference and take a stand that says each person is special and loved by God.

This article is based on a report submitted by Bill George, pastor of Kensington Baptist Church.