Recently, I gave a presentation to our church about my Immigration Immersion trip to Tijuana, Mexico. There were many photos to share and stories to tell, but I started with the end in mind.

I tried to answer the burning question: What are the solutions?

I came up with a Top Ten list and thought I would share those ideas here . . .

  1. Change our language. People are not “illegals” or “illegal aliens.” Some people, in our midst, are undocumented HUMAN BEINGS. Changing our language can change our hearts and minds about many issues—including immigration. 

  2. Stop living in fear. The Wall is a fear tactic from Clinton to Bush to Obama to Trump—this is bipartisan chaos. We are Good News people, and our language and our actions should reflect Love, Grace, Hope, and Peace—not Fear.

  3. Find ways to coordinate with what’s already going on in Charlotte to help immigrants in our midst. Let’s start with church members who already work for those agencies to see how we can help. 

  4. Explore what it might mean us for to become a “Sanctuary” congregation. 

  5. A Tu Lado—engage more fully in the work we are doing to help one Guatemalan mother and two children in Charlotte seeking asylum. 

  6. Invite our representatives to join us on an Immigration Immersion experience so they can see for themselves the plight of many people with horrific stories to tell. 

  7. Admit that we can differ in political agendas and ideas and policies while completely agreeing on the role of the Church. We have but one stance: Welcome and Hospitality. 

  8. A lesson from my day on a Factory Worker Tour: Remember that every single thing you buy has a story which has multiple human beings behind it and often those human beings gave their health and their safety for each item. The challenge is for us to discover the history behind everything we buy. 

  9. Be courageous. Be loving. Take risks.

  10. Pray for wisdom for our leaders. Pray for a change of hearts - that compassion might rule the day. 

As a caravan of migrants moves toward the US border, the leader of my Immersion group, Ray Schellinger, posted these thoughts yesterday on Facebook.

It’s worth considering Ray’s thoughts as we watch the news: 

“Don't be fooled into allowing fear and hate to rule your heart. The caravan is an attempt by hundreds of families to seek safety. It is not unlike the peace marches of the Civil Rights era demanding justice. They band together to bring awareness to the desperate situations within Central America. They travel together because it is safer than traveling alone.

If their purpose was to try to cross illegally into the US, they would sneak across the border; they would not be publicizing their journey for the world to see. They are not trying to invade the US and overpower our very well protected border. We do not need to force our southern neighbors to violence to stop them

These migrants do not represent a mortal threat to our nation. They do, however, represent a moral threat to our nation in as much as we look upon our neighbors in need and choose to close up our compassion against them.”

Immigration is a complicated issue, but Ray’s words of compassion speak to me about the Church’s response to any complicated issue.