Mark your calendars! Sunday, November 10th is Austin Region Justice for Our Neighbors’ (ARJFON) annual gala. Each year, I look forward to this event. Some of you I see each year and are already committed to the work of ARJFON. If you are not aware of ARJFON’s work, I encourage you to learn more about this important non-profit that provides free, high-quality immigration legal services. The National Justice for Our Neighbors program was founded in 1999 by The United Methodist Church and assists immigrants throughout The United States navigate the complex system of immigration regulations through local clinics and offices such as our very own ARJFON.
I’ve been known to say, “Now more than ever, we need Justice for Our Neighbors.” It is a sobering and painful reality that this has become even more true in recent years. Our country’s administration implemented an inhumane and abusive family separation policy and while the policy has since been rescinded, it is clear that many children have yet to be united with their families. While immigration and the surge of those seeking asylum are incredibly complex and challenging realities, the lives of innocent children and their parents seeking asylum are at risk. While we as a country continue to debate and engage in polarizing political tactics, lives are not only risked – they are lost. I’m not the first preacher to be accused of mixing politics with religion. And I am not the first to point out to such critics that when it comes to matters of life and justice, my faith compels me to speak out. Throughout the Hebrew scriptures God called upon the people of God to welcome the foreigner and extend hospitality to the resident alien. My loyalty is to this God. In the fullness of time God sent Christ and the babe of Bethlehem soon became a refugee as Mary and Joseph feared for their newborn child’s safety and did all they could to save it. My faith is in this Christ. This is why my husband and I continue to support ARJFON.
So I hope to see you at the gala on November 10th. Find more information here: https://www.jfonaustin.org. Even if you can’t come, you can still donate online. Give generously – for our faith calls us to action on behalf of the marginalized and oppressed. Tell others about ARJFON and share the good news about how God is using ordinary people to transform the lives of others and the world. A link to a video can be found here. And pray! Continue to pray for those seeking a safe home and the many churches and volunteers who are providing hope. Sometimes the hope is carried in the form of new shoes, sometimes in the form of food, sometimes in the form of protest – but always with the understanding that God calls us to extend hospitality to all.