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by Jee Wook Lee
MANIFESTO STATEMENT

God wants to cultivate the heart of a migrant in each of us.

Immigrants as the Face of History and Globalization

Jules Martínez-Olivieri

Jules Martínez-Olivieri is the Milton B. Engebretson chair in evangelism and justice at North Park Theological Seminary. He is a theologian, practitioner, and author of A Visible Witness: Christology, Liberation and Participation (Fortress Press, 2016). Available in Spanish as Un Testimonio Visible: Cristología, Liberación y Participación (Publicaciones Kerigma, 2020).

“Humanity is fundamentally a story of migration.”[1]

These are the words of Moroccan American novelist and essayist Laila Lalami. Migration is an essential element of the life of peoples and a reality that shapes human history and redemptive history. 

People migrate for different reasons. Sometimes they have a choice about moving; other times they are forced to move. In 1972, for example, the military ruler of Uganda, Idi Amin, ordered the expulsion of the country's Asian minority, giving them ninety days to leave the country. With voluntary migration, people have reasons to either leave a place (push factors) or reasons to be attracted to a place (pull factors). Humans have been moving in response to these push and pull factors for millennia. Even as far back as the eighth to sixth centuries BC, the proto-Celtic Hallstatt peoples spread over what is today western Austria to find new wealth opportunities as prosperous trade routes shifted elsewhere.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) defines migrant as "an umbrella term, not defined under international law, reflecting the common lay understanding of a person who moves away from his or her place of usual residence, whether within a country or across an international border, temporarily or permanently, and for a variety of reasons."

While this is a helpful definition, the historical realities of migration should challenge the classical conception of geographical boundaries. There are many types of borders beyond geopolitical boundaries: ideological, cultural, political, ethnic, spiritual, economic, etc. Thus, our main criterion for identifying the migrant border crosser cannot be reduced to those who simply lack residency or legal documentation in a territorially bounded sovereign country. Rather, we need to see that migration, in many forms, has always been a human reality.

The Fact and Fluidity of Borders

Nevertheless, the concept of borders is a perpetual sociopolitical fact with an awful history of abuse and suffering designed to protect the welfare of geographically, racially, or ethnically defined nation-states. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first time in the US that a “federal law proscribed entry of an ethnic working group on the premise that it endangered the good order of certain localities.” This law not only placed requirements on Chinese people trying to immigrate to the US but also placed new requirements on Chinese who had already arrived. Before this, Chinese were received as laborers and even as neighbors, being a “touch of color which gave to the life of the country.” But, as economic competition and struggle increased, anti-Chinese animosity became the scapegoat for moneymaking and political gains.

Geopolitical boundaries also change over time. The US-Mexican border was not always where it is today. In 1821, the year Mexico declared its independence from Spain, its territory included California, Texas, and the land in between. However, after the Mexican-American War in 1848, 55 percent of Mexico’s territory was ceded to the United States. Mexico had ended slavery by 1830; nevertheless, when white Americans formed the independent Republic of Texas, they reinstated slavery. “By the time the US annexed the territory,” journalist Becky Little explains, “its enslaved population had grown from 5,000 to 30,000.” Given the geographical proximity of Mexico, previously many enslaved people had escaped south rather than to the free states in the North. However, the land transfer in 1848 and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 became another “open wound,” as Mexican American scholar Gloria Anzaldúa would say, for African enslaved people and African diaspora communities today. Being an immigrant is not an objective status; it’s a fluid designation that changes when territories change.

A Call that Predates Countries

Concern over the reception of migrants, especially the most vulnerable, precedes the political constitution of nations. In ancient Israel, the people rescued from Egypt by God are called to live with generous hospitality toward the migrant and foreigner, thereby emulating how God, the Liberator, has welcomed them with compassion. This compassionate hospitality became an imperative that superseded political tribal loyalties.[2] It was an issue of the human dignity of image-bearers. We also find this theological and social ethic extended through the social concerns of Jesus and the Messianic community, the church. The Christian call is the human call to welcome and protect the most vulnerable: migrants, orphans, and widows.

New Testament scholar Joshua Jipp, in his important work Saved by Faith and Hospitality, traces the plight of the immigrants from the legislations in the Torah through Jesus and the Gospels. He rightly asserts: “The commandment to show justice and hospitality to the immigrant is obvious in the following exhortations, but we must also pay close attention to the sanctions that provide motivation.” The texts in question are Exodus 23:9, Leviticus 19:33–34, Deuteronomy 10:17–21, and Deuteronomy 27:19. We can also agree with Jipp that, in the New Testament, especially in Luke and Acts, “this divine hospitality comes to us in the person of Jesus, the divine host who extends God’s hospitality to sinners, outcasts, and strangers and thereby draws them—and us—into friendship with God.” The practice of hospitality within biblical history culminates in an all-merciful God opening Godself in Christ to a humanity in existential distress.

Furthermore, biblical hospitality is a testimony of a covenantal faith. Receiving every person in the name of Christ is believing that it is Christ himself whom we welcome in our midst (John 13:20). In hospitality we can say that we show the love that God has for all his children.

Migration Necessitates Change--for All of Us

Currently, there are more than 272 million international migrants in the world. Contemporary migration patterns have been called “the human face of globalization.”[3]  Migration plays a major role in the economy, politics, and social structure of the majority of countries in the world. This also involves the convergences of cultures, traditions, aesthetics, art, music, values, food, and human needs. The increased interconnectivity caused by migration to and from geographical and digital lands facilitates the need for—and catalyzes—the innovation of ideas, culture, and technology.

In recent times, the dramatic reality of the plight of refugees has come to the forefront of international human rights discussions. Our planet now has more than 82 million displaced individuals who have been forced to leave their homes due to armed conflict, widespread violence, or natural disaster. These discussions have launched companies and NGOs that create products and services that provide refugees with access to rights, information, health, education, employment, and social inclusion.

US immigration policy, which has not been significantly updated in thirty-five years, is an area in which innovation is sorely needed. Over 10 million undocumented immigrants reside in the United States right now. Authorized immigration to the US is generally limited to three different routes: employment (where, in most cases, an employer must petition for the worker); family reunification; or humanitarian protection. Unfortunately, many aspiring residents are not eligible for any of these options, despite the fact that most immigrants to the US have left their homeland, family, and friends due to severe economic hardship, violence, and dangerous political instability. In past times, migration was a natural respite for such conditions.

What Migration Means for Christians

Faced with this reality, what is the significance of the immigrant for Christian thinking? As Vietnamese-born theologian Peter C. Phan, proposes, the very existence of the immigrant entails “a particular way of perceiving and interpreting reality; that is, oneself, others (in particular, the dominant others and fellow groups of immigrants), the cosmos, and ultimately, God.”[4] Migrants not only influence the questions we ask, but they also determine the way we perceive meaning, truth, and reality.

As Christians, we cannot reduce immigrants to geopolitical conceptions. We commit atrocities and dehumanize those who are our neighbors when we see migrant foreigners as a threat, a risk, or an unknown to our “sacred” political, economic, geographical, and cultural realities and traditions.

A more humane and theological approach centers the plight of those who suffer a forced disconnection from their family, the deprived who transit to another land, and those who come seeking relationships that enhance their capacity to flourish. Informed by testimony in sacred Scripture, Christians need a practice aimed at emulating God's mission as God's people. 

The church universal today should continue to think critically and missionally about reasonable, necessary immigration policies for democratic societies in the industrialized West. It should do the same for migrants moving through different migration corridors: from developing countries to high-income countries and vice-versa; from the Global South to the South; and from the Global North to the North. Still, the ethical imperatives in the Bible should be the primary framework to inform our notions of compassion, service, and hospitality. God loves and rewards the hospitable because they reflect divine compassion and justice. But God judges those who abuse and reject the vulnerable, for they deny divine compassion, which is what makes us truly human.

Through migration, our values, faith, and churches are renewed. The reality of the migrant experience challenges us as Christians to be more just and charitable. We come to realize that “in the beginning was mercy,” as Jesuit priest Jon Sobrino beautifully states. This mercy for the foreigner compels us to embody Jesus, announce the kingdom of God, and denounce everything that harms the vulnerable as anti-kingdom. This is achieved only when the suffering of others is internalized and becomes a joyful orthopathos, a passioned identification with the other for whom God’s love is extended through us. Through migration, God changes our hearts.

During this time of accelerating global migration, Christians are called to sacrificially love our neighbors, to extend compassion and hospitality to the vulnerable. We are called to fight xenophobia in the name of Christ, to diligently heed his word: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matt. 25:35-36, NIV). This sacred word has moved countless of Christians through the centuries not only to extend love to other humans, but to enter into the kind of praxis and compassion that makes us human.

This is our pre-political call, which precedes nation-states and geopolitical realities—our call to love from ancient times until today.

“Humanity is fundamentally a story of migration.”[1]

These are the words of Moroccan American novelist and essayist Laila Lalami. Migration is an essential element of the life of peoples and a reality that shapes human history and redemptive history. 

People migrate for different reasons. Sometimes they have a choice about moving; other times they are forced to move. In 1972, for example, the military ruler of Uganda, Idi Amin, ordered the expulsion of the country's Asian minority, giving them ninety days to leave the country. With voluntary migration, people have reasons to either leave a place (push factors) or reasons to be attracted to a place (pull factors). Humans have been moving in response to these push and pull factors for millennia. Even as far back as the eighth to sixth centuries BC, the proto-Celtic Hallstatt peoples spread over what is today western Austria to find new wealth opportunities as prosperous trade routes shifted elsewhere.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) defines migrant as "an umbrella term, not defined under international law, reflecting the common lay understanding of a person who moves away from his or her place of usual residence, whether within a country or across an international border, temporarily or permanently, and for a variety of reasons." 

Migration, in many forms, has always been a human reality.

While this is a helpful definition, the historical realities of migration should challenge the classical conception of geographical boundaries. There are many types of borders beyond geopolitical boundaries: ideological, cultural, political, ethnic, spiritual, economic, etc. Thus, our main criterion for identifying the migrant border crosser cannot be reduced to those who simply lack residency or legal documentation in a territorially bounded sovereign country. Rather, we need to see that migration, in many forms, has always been a human reality.

The Fact and Fluidity of Borders

Nevertheless, the concept of borders is a perpetual sociopolitical fact with an awful history of abuse and suffering designed to protect the welfare of geographically, racially, or ethnically defined nation-states. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first time in the US that a “federal law proscribed entry of an ethnic working group on the premise that it endangered the good order of certain localities.” This law not only placed requirements on Chinese people trying to immigrate to the US but also placed new requirements on Chinese who had already arrived. Before this, Chinese were received as laborers and even as neighbors, being a “touch of color which gave to the life of the country.” But, as economic competition and struggle increased, anti-Chinese animosity became the scapegoat for moneymaking and political gains.

Concern over the reception of migrants, especially the most vulnerable, precedes the political constitution of nations.

Geopolitical boundaries also change over time. The US-Mexican border was not always where it is today. In 1821, the year Mexico declared its independence from Spain, its territory included California, Texas, and the land in between. However, after the Mexican-American War in 1848, 55 percent of Mexico’s territory was ceded to the United States. Mexico had ended slavery by 1830; nevertheless, when white Americans formed the independent Republic of Texas, they reinstated slavery. “By the time the US annexed the territory,” journalist Becky Little explains, “its enslaved population had grown from 5,000 to 30,000.” Given the geographical proximity of Mexico, previously many enslaved people had escaped south rather than to the free states in the North. However, the land transfer in 1848 and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 became another “open wound,” as Mexican American scholar Gloria Anzaldúa would say, for African enslaved people and African diaspora communities today. Being an immigrant is not an objective status; it’s a fluid designation that changes when territories change.

A Call that Predates Countries

Concern over the reception of migrants, especially the most vulnerable, precedes the political constitution of nations. In ancient Israel, the people rescued from Egypt by God are called to live with generous hospitality toward the migrant and foreigner, thereby emulating how God, the Liberator, has welcomed them with compassion. This compassionate hospitality became an imperative that superseded political tribal loyalties.[2] It was an issue of the human dignity of image-bearers. We also find this theological and social ethic extended through the social concerns of Jesus and the Messianic community, the church. The Christian call is the human call to welcome and protect the most vulnerable: migrants, orphans, and widows.

Migrants not only influence the questions we ask, but they also determine the way we perceive meaning, truth, and reality.

New Testament scholar Joshua Jipp, in his important work Saved by Faith and Hospitality, traces the plight of the immigrants from the legislations in the Torah through Jesus and the Gospels. He rightly asserts: “The commandment to show justice and hospitality to the immigrant is obvious in the following exhortations, but we must also pay close attention to the sanctions that provide motivation.” The texts in question are Exodus 23:9, Leviticus 19:33–34, Deuteronomy 10:17–21, and Deuteronomy 27:19. We can also agree with Jipp that, in the New Testament, especially in Luke and Acts, “this divine hospitality comes to us in the person of Jesus, the divine host who extends God’s hospitality to sinners, outcasts, and strangers and thereby draws them—and us—into friendship with God.” The practice of hospitality within biblical history culminates in an all-merciful God opening Godself in Christ to a humanity in existential distress.

Migrants not only influence the questions we ask, but they also determine the way we perceive meaning, truth, and reality.

Furthermore, biblical hospitality is a testimony of a covenantal faith. Receiving every person in the name of Christ is believing that it is Christ himself whom we welcome in our midst (John 13:20). In hospitality we can say that we show the love that God has for all his children.

Migration Necessitates Change--for All of Us

Currently, there are more than 272 million international migrants in the world. Contemporary migration patterns have been called “the human face of globalization.”[3]  Migration plays a major role in the economy, politics, and social structure of the majority of countries in the world. This also involves the convergences of cultures, traditions, aesthetics, art, music, values, food, and human needs. The increased interconnectivity caused by migration to and from geographical and digital lands facilitates the need for—and catalyzes—the innovation of ideas, culture, and technology.

In recent times, the dramatic reality of the plight of refugees has come to the forefront of international human rights discussions. Our planet now has more than 82 million displaced individuals who have been forced to leave their homes due to armed conflict, widespread violence, or natural disaster. These discussions have launched companies and NGOs that create products and services that provide refugees with access to rights, information, health, education, employment, and social inclusion.

US immigration policy, which has not been significantly updated in thirty-five years, is an area in which innovation is sorely needed. Over 10 million undocumented immigrants reside in the United States right now. Authorized immigration to the US is generally limited to three different routes: employment (where, in most cases, an employer must petition for the worker); family reunification; or humanitarian protection. Unfortunately, many aspiring residents are not eligible for any of these options, despite the fact that most immigrants to the US have left their homeland, family, and friends due to severe economic hardship, violence, and dangerous political instability. In past times, migration was a natural respite for such conditions.

What Migration Means for Christians

Faced with this reality, what is the significance of the immigrant for Christian thinking? As Vietnamese-born theologian Peter C. Phan, proposes, the very existence of the immigrant entails “a particular way of perceiving and interpreting reality; that is, oneself, others (in particular, the dominant others and fellow groups of immigrants), the cosmos, and ultimately, God.”[4] Migrants not only influence the questions we ask, but they also determine the way we perceive meaning, truth, and reality.

As Christians, we cannot reduce immigrants to geopolitical conceptions. We commit atrocities and dehumanize those who are our neighbors when we see migrant foreigners as a threat, a risk, or an unknown to our “sacred” political, economic, geographical, and cultural realities and traditions.

A more humane and theological approach centers the plight of those who suffer a forced disconnection from their family, the deprived who transit to another land, and those who come seeking relationships that enhance their capacity to flourish. Informed by testimony in sacred Scripture, Christians need a practice aimed at emulating God's mission as God's people. 

This mercy for the foreigner compels us to embody Jesus, announce the kingdom of God, and denounce everything that harms the vulnerable as anti-kingdom.

The church universal today should continue to think critically and missionally about reasonable, necessary immigration policies for democratic societies in the industrialized West. It should do the same for migrants moving through different migration corridors: from developing countries to high-income countries and vice-versa; from the Global South to the South; and from the Global North to the North. Still, the ethical imperatives in the Bible should be the primary framework to inform our notions of compassion, service, and hospitality. God loves and rewards the hospitable because they reflect divine compassion and justice. But God judges those who abuse and reject the vulnerable, for they deny divine compassion, which is what makes us truly human.

Through migration, our values, faith, and churches are renewed. The reality of the migrant experience challenges us as Christians to be more just and charitable. We come to realize that “in the beginning was mercy,” as Jesuit priest Jon Sobrino beautifully states. This mercy for the foreigner compels us to embody Jesus, announce the kingdom of God, and denounce everything that harms the vulnerable as anti-kingdom. This is achieved only when the suffering of others is internalized and becomes a joyful orthopathos, a passioned identification with the other for whom God’s love is extended through us. Through migration, God changes our hearts.

During this time of accelerating global migration, Christians are called to sacrificially love our neighbors, to extend compassion and hospitality to the vulnerable. We are called to fight xenophobia in the name of Christ, to diligently heed his word: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matt. 25:35-36, NIV). This sacred word has moved countless of Christians through the centuries not only to extend love to other humans, but to enter into the kind of praxis and compassion that makes us human.

This is our pre-political call, which precedes nation-states and geopolitical realities—our call to love from ancient times until today.

1 Laila Lalami, Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America, 1st ed. (New York: Pantheon Books, 2020), 70.
2 See chapter two in Daniel Carrol’s The Bible and Borders: Hearing God's Word on Immigration (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2020).
3 Julio L. Martínez, Citizenship, Migrations and Religion: An Ethical Dialogue Based on the Christian Faith (Madrid: Universidad Pontificia Comillas, 2007), 51.
4 Peter Phan, "The Experience of Migration in the United States as a Source of Intercultural Theology," in E. Padilla E. and P.C. Phan (eds.) Contemporary Issues of Migration and Theology (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 148.

Migration, in many forms, has always been a human reality.
Concern over the reception of migrants, especially the most vulnerable, precedes the political constitution of nations.
Migrants not only influence the questions we ask, but they also determine the way we perceive meaning, truth, and reality.
This mercy for the foreigner compels us to embody Jesus, announce the kingdom of God, and denounce everything that harms the vulnerable as anti-kingdom.
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by Urias Abraham
.

Welcome to my Vida!

Frank Espinoza

Frank Espinoza is Mexican-American and currently serves as Young Adult Minister at Hope Community Church in Austin, TX as well as Campus Staff Minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Frank is married to his beautiful wife Daniela, who is Venezuelan-Cuban-American.

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Welcome to my Vida!


I don’t know what’s stronger: the sound of music blaring in the morning or the smell of fabuloso I wake up to. 

It’s Saturday, aka cleaning day in my Mexican American household.


Welcome to my vida.

 

Yet in the midst of my sluggish cleaning and cumbia singing, 

my mom’s managed to whip up a breakfast that feeds more than we can eat—the smells of bleach and cleaning supplies now shoved out the doors and windows, 

as the scents of fresh tortillas and homemade salsa 

dance their way in to fill our home.


Welcome to my vida.

 

See, growing up as a Mexican-American raised on the Southside of San Antonio, for me 

looked like Sunday mass

Or occasional, Sunday mass, 

fish-Fridays during Lent, 

and the constant exposure to images of the virgin Mary, whether along the walls of my home, scattered throughout murals in my neighborhood, or tattooed on the brown bodies who walked my barrio.

 

Growing up, I never considered myself to be Mexican, 

but I suppose going to a school where 99% of the people look like you, 

well, it just never comes up. 

Yet as I look back on my childhood, I’m thankful for loud familia gatherings, 

bbqs with my abuelos, and too many quincineras to count.

 

You see, there are so many similarities and differences that cover the spectrum of Latinidad, or the Latino experience. There’s about 2 dozen countries in Latin America that unify us, years of colonialism and rampant racism we’ve faced, the best music to swing our hips to, a bienvenido or welcoming spirit that includes all as familia, 1 unifying language called Spanish thanks to the colonizers, and don’t even get me started about our food.


Welcome to our vida.

 

But the reality 

is that the gravity of who we are as Latinos differs by generation, geography, and nationality. 

Contrary to our depiction in media we don’t all walk around throwing gang signs spittin out profanity;

We’re not the exotic Latin lover bleeding with sensuality; 

And despite under-reported journalism we too are victims of police brutality.


But allow me to use this analogy: 

Latinos are like seeds being scattered and spread out all over,

being planted and taking root where they land. 

Despite weathering by storms, 

soil being robbed from underneath our feet, 

or being forcibly yanked out like some unwanted weed, 

our culture and our influence runs deep.

 

So I stand up here proudly sharing with you what being a Mexican-American man means for me.

 

During college, being Mexican-American for me meant…

Freshmen year, being the only Latino in my classroom

Protesting on my campus when a certain organization tried hosting a game called “catch an illegal immigrant”

Being Mexican-American for me means my life is not a game, it is not some pawn on your chess board, it is not less than or greater than yours, it will not be reduced to a mere quota that must be filled, it is not a statistic,

Instead, it’s my friends yelling mordida 

as they celebrate my birthday by bashing in my face in cake in good fun, 

it’s my little cousins, nieces and nephew running around, 

It’s my mom in the kitchen throwing it down, it’s my family on the porch or in the living room gathered ‘round, sharing about la llorona, chupacabra, or lechuza passing story after story down

Frank you speak really well for a young Latino male (on multiple occasions)

While being called coconut bc I couldn’t speak Spanish like I was brown on the outside and white on the inside, and I don’t even like coconuts!

Being the first in my family to cross the stage at college graduation covered in the hopes and prayers of my family like the cap and gown I wore, with the weight of their sacrifices hung around my neck like the stole I never had to carry & their struggles strapped on like a backpack because this journey is not just for me

You see I crossed the stage but my ancestors they crossed borders! 

Well, better yet the US-Mexico border crossed them, but you get the picture


Welcome to my vida

 

Being Mexican for me today means still being told the only opportunities I get are because I’m Mexican, as if breaking barriers and working hard doesn’t flow through these veins

Like I didn’t see my mom wake up at the crack of dawn to catch her bus to work half-way across town, or see my dad come back from work legs tired, hands cracked from the work of a day laborer, 

only to get up the next morning at 5am and do it again


Welcome to their vidas


Being Mexican-American for me today, means 

Standing with my undocu and DACA mented brothers

Supporting the success of my Latina sisters

Having the baile esta cumbias of Selena & melodies of How Great is our God on the same playlist

Popping my head up when I hear a lick of Spanish being spoken

While Trying so hard to eloquently pray in Espanol and not being able to - yet

Having the blood of the oppressor and the oppressed interwoven, no forced, in me like oil and water that were never supposed to mix

It means navigating spaces that weren’t created for me and having the freedom to do so because of who created me, the ultimate creator

The unbiased, impartial, not-colorblind creator


This Jesus, who was the son of God and the son of immigrants, 

who was Galilean, Jewish, middle-eastern man, 

he was the caster out of demons, lover of the widow, tamer of the storms, healer of the sick, 

“Can anything good even come from Nazareth?!”

They had the audacity to ask that about him. Because of where he came from? 

Or the way he spoke? 

Or how he dressed? 

Or the types of people he hung around with? 

Or maybe because, you know, he was from “that side of town” 


Like this man was from the barrio man, not the highly regarded part of the region. 

Yet still, this was God’s plan for him, and this, this is God’s plan for me.  

To speak praises to his son, the one who went to the cross for my sin, calling me to new life in him renewing my whole life, including ethnicity, through his bloody redemption


Welcome to His vida!


See God sent Jesus, not just for me, but for my family, 

and not just for my family, but for every familia, 

like he promised Abraham in Genesis 12:3

He said “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you, and all families on the earth will be blessed through you Abraham.”


That means... restoration and healing for all: 

From the white supremacist, 

to the unarmed black man, 

for the First Peoples who walked this land,

 to the Asian faced with discrimination, 

the undocumented immigrant, 

the immigrant from India

 If we would take time to get to know all their vidas--these are whom God had in mind when Jesus died for our vidas!

Revelation 7:9 shows Jesus died for every people, language, nation and tribe


So that includes you too, brother

God is calling you too, sister.

To come before the Lamb, to stand before God’s throne


And so it is with this last piece that I’ll close: 


In the parabolic words of Jesus, and instinctive familia-trait that’s imbedded within Latino culture-- 


Todavia hay espacio.

There is still more room.


Welcome, to, his Vida!


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by Mondo Scott

In Their Own Words: Migration Stories from Around the World

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun is an award-winning writer, editor, and communications consultant. She has served in the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors for more than a decade, including stints in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Kenya. Dorcas is the author of two books, Start Love Repeat: How to Stay in Love with Your Entrepreneur in a Crazy Start-up World and Let There d.light: How One Social Enterprise Brought Solar Products to 100 Million People. Her next book, Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul, will be released in 2022. She is an editor with Pax and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two hapa sons.

As we conclude the Manifesto path point on how God wants to cultivate the heart of a migrant in each of us, we want to honor the many migrants in our midst by centering their stories.

Whether or not you have personally migrated, we all can learn from those who have taken the step of faith to move to a new home. And that learning begins with listening. That’s why we collected these migration stories from around the world: from China and India to South Sudan, Costa Rica, and Perú. Each story is unique. Some of these individuals have fled violence or hardship; others have left in pursuit of new opportunities. Some have migrated to a different region of the same country; others have moved to several continents across multiple generations.

In each story is a piece of God’s heart--his deep love for people on the move and his desire to use the crucible of transition for deep transformation. I’d encourage you to listen for the lessons God may have for you in the hopes and fears, heartbreaks and triumphs of these friends who have taken the risk to embark on their own migration journey.

Thank God for DACA

Perú → USA
Karla Mendoza

Karla Mendoza was born in Lima, Perú, where the Pacific Ocean was her best friend. She migrated to the US with her mom and sister when she was eleven years old, reuniting with her dad in the land of the Iroquois in the Midwest. Karla spends most of her life in the intersectionality of being a Jesus-loving Afro-Indigenous Peruvian, undocumented immigrant, and a fat woman. Antiracism discipleship is the heartbeat of her writing and speaking. She dabbles in visual arts, writing, teaching, bookbinding, photography, and recently took up podcasting on El Cafecito with Karla. Most of all, she loves laughing, the color yellow, Bad Bunny, drinking single-origin pour overs, and reading multiple books at once.

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From War Refugee to Foster Child

South Sudan → Uganda → USA
Martha Gatkuoch

Martha Gatkuoch was born in a remote South Sudanese village around 1991. In 2001, her village was attacked by rebels. She fled hundreds of miles on foot with her three younger brothers to Uganda, where they lived in a refugee camp for six years. In 2007, Martha and her brothers received permission to immigrate to the US through the Unattached Refugee Minor program. Once in California, they went through six foster care placements until they finally found a permanent family. Martha now provides home health care to elderly and disabled individuals while continuing her education and raising her young daughter. Learn more in her memoir, It Feels Like the Burning Hut.

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When There’s a Calling, I’ll Go

USA → Indonesia → France → Switzerland → Bangladesh → Thailand → Malaysia → China → Myanmar
Vivian Gee

Vivian Gee is an impact strategist and philanthropy adviser who aligns business, funding, and social-sector interests globally. She has held leadership roles in corporate social responsibility, financial inclusion policy innovation, and international collaboration organizations, including the World Economic Forum. Vivian also serves as a board member, mentor, and consultant to social enterprises. Vivian holds an MBA from INSEAD, as well as BS and MS degrees from Stanford University. A global citizen at heart, she has lived and worked in eight countries across three continents.

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Leaving the Costa Rican Dream

Costa Rica → USA
Josue Carballo-Huertas

Josue Carballo Huertas is a husband, a designer, and a cat dad. Originally from Costa Rica, he moved to the United States in 2015.

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Joy, Pain,
and Guilt

Northeast China → Southeast China → Beijing
Christina Lee

Christina Lee is a journalist and marketing and communications professional in China. She is originally from Liaoning Province in northeast China and has also lived in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Beijing.

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The Sacrifices and Struggles of Previous Generations

India → Zambia/Malawi → USA
Jai Patel

Jai Patel is a second-generation Indian American who is passionate about helping others experience their newfound identity in Christ, and unpacking the beauty and complexity of their cultural and ethnic heritage. Raised in a culturally Hindu household, he placed his faith in Jesus in 2014 and never looked back. He has served on staff with Cru, an international campus ministry, as well as a local church, equipping college students to thrive in their lives and usher in God’s kingdom to a lost and broken world. Jai is the content manager at Pax. He has a BA in business, communication and philosophy from the University of Texas, San Antonio, and is pursuing an MBA at LSU Shreveport. He lives in Houma, LA, with his wife, Priyanka.

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At Pax, we believe that all people are deeply connected to one another as children of God, even if we come from very different backgrounds. After listening to one or more of these migration stories, take some time to connect with and reflect on the experiences you heard. You are welcome to do this on your own or with others.

  1. How has your own family been affected by migration?
  2. How do you see God shaping his people through the experience of migration?
  3. Is there a migrant in your circle of concern (a family member, friend, neighbor, or colleague) whose migration story you don’t know? Take the risk to ask if they would be willing to share their experience. If they are willing, thank them for their generosity and focus on actively listening and understanding.
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