From the first chapters of the Old Testament, the Bible tells the story of God’s people on the move. God called Abraham and Sarah to leave their place and be a blessing to others. Deuteronomy reminds us to “love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”
St. Stephan’s Grace Community lives out God’s call to bless others within a mostly immigrant community in Newark, New Jersey. Pastor Moacie Weirich shares:
We believe, as written in the scriptures, that God hears the cry of the people. The cry we hear around here included horror stories of brothers and sisters who leave everything behind in order to survive and find a new life.
Many immigrants find themselves in detention, deported, and separated from their family living in the shadows being exploited without a voice. These same children of God have amazing gifts to contribute to our community. As society we often refuse to recognize the blessing they really are.
Newcomers bring a rich culture, including music, language, food, and art. They also often bring a set of skills that complement the work place and a set of strong faith values — love, compassion, family, and community.
When I hear the stories of our people, the challenges and the joys, I realize that we can do better. Changing federal laws takes a lot of effort and seems impossible sometimes. However, small steps on the local level can alleviate people’s suffering and empower us all to work together, raising our voices. And along the way we begin to create community.
We are grateful for congregations like St. Stephan’s who embrace their brothers and sisters in Christ. To find out ways your congregation can create a community of welcome for immigrants and refugees, please visit our Refugee Sunday page.