From the President's Desk: Thinking Theologically about Immigration
Open the Book of Genesis, and you don’t have to read far—only about three chapters—before you find people migrating. Adam and Eve go east of Eden (Gen. 3:24). Cain goes to the land of Nod, which means “wandering” (4:16); Abram, Lot, and Sarai set out from Ur headed for Canaan (11:31); and Israel settles in Egypt’s land of Goshen (47:27). Beyond Genesis, the Israelites spend forty years wandering in search of their homeland; Nehemiah leads returning refugees as they rebuild Jerusalem; and Daniel finds himself carried off to Babylon—to name a few. It seems God’s people are always on the move.
In Leviticus we find God’s instructions to Israel on her return from Egypt: “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33–34).
A few years ago Christianity Today ran a poll in which they asked, “Do Bible verses on ‘welcoming the stranger’ apply to the U.S. immigration debate?” An overwhelming 82% of respondents said “yes.” Christ clearly has something to say about how we treat the poor, the voiceless, and the displaced—and often immigrants fall into each of these categories.
According to the International Organization for Migration, roughly one in every thirty-five persons worldwide is a migrant. That’s 192 million people living outside their place of birth, and about three percent of the entire world population. That rate is growing at a rate of about 2.9 percent annually, making migration one of the defining issues of the twenty-first century.
Matthew 25:31–46 suggests that to mistreat the “alien” is to mistreat Christ. How do we show the compassion of Christ for all people while not condoning the violation of civil laws?
In this issue of Kindred Spirit one of our alumni helps us answer that question. Dr. Alejandro Mandes, National Director of Hispanic Ministry and Gateway Theological Training of the Evangelical Free Church of America, takes us to the biblical story of Onesimus for a particularly relevant case study. Then DTS’s own Dr. Michael Pocock, who emigrated from the U.K. to the U.S. as a teen, helps us think beyond the U.S., beyond politics, and beyond economics to explore a biblical perspective on immigration.
In this issue you’ll find a special profile of Dr. Howard G. “Prof” Hendricks, who has served faithfully at DTS for sixty years. You will also read about student Ben Stuart, who leads thousands of college students in a weekly Bible study at Texas A&M University.
Each of these articles in some way points to the heart of our God. He commands us to care for others. He desires for us to invest in the next generation. And He wants us to proclaim the truth until the whole world hears of Jesus and His love.
—Dr. Mark L. Bailey