Loving Our Refugee Neighbors
February 4th, 2020 | April Karli
by Madelynn Marlow
Earlier this month, Governor Abbott released a statement that Texas would not participate in further resettlement of refugees. Although this decision was blocked by a federal judge, it is unclear what the future of resettlement in Texas will look like. Regardless of the outcome, this decision will undoubtedly make the process of resettlement more difficult than it already is for families and individuals in pursuit of safe living.
As you all know, Austin Mustard Seed partners with Hope of Life as a sister church. Our pastors have met with them and they expressed much anxiety around the very real consequences of this decision. Many of them have family members still in the Congo preparing to resettle and reunite with their family here in Texas. At the moment, we know of at least 5 families who were days away from boarding a plane to Texas when the decision was made. This decision is devastating considering how long they have already been separated from their families.
Because Abbott’s decision stands in opposition to a community we are proud to call our neighbors, we at Austin Mustard Seed are deciding to stand with our friends at Hope of Life. We submit to them as the experts of their experience and commit to advocating for and with them as they seek the thriving of their community.
We believe that this is informed not only by our relationship with Hope of Life, but by the cornerstone of our theology as well. As Christians, we are compelled to love and welcome our displaced neighbors. The Christ we worship was himself a refugee in Egypt and descended from a long line of Israelites in exile. We see in the Bible countless accounts of Jesus reaching out to individuals on the margins and welcoming them to his community. In doing so, Jesus intentionally subverted unjust and unwelcoming systems. As a people who are called to walk in the ways of Jesus, it should be our duty and our joy to create a place of welcome for communities seeking safety and thriving in our state.
It is for all of these reasons that we are committing to listening to and standing with Hope of Life in this time. In coming weeks we will be having a potluck dinner with them. We want to build relationships and get to know each other better over a meal with Rosedale, Hope of Life, and Austin Mustard Seed. In addition, we want to communicate a posture of welcome and listen to their needs. We will also join them in praying for the safe resettlement of their families to Texas.
While listening to and praying with Hope of Life is important, we know well that prayers not followed by action are often empty. We therefore encourage members of the Mustard Seed Community to collectively call and write letters to our Governor’s office letting him know how important this is to us and our friends at Hope of Life. Refugee Council USA has provided this simple script for phone calls and letters.
We hope to have more tangible ways to come alongside Hope of Life in this time, but for now we ask that your advocacy would be preceded by a posture of listening to those most affected by this decision. We trust that Austin Mustard Seed will show up and strive to be the Body of Christ for and with our displaced friends and neighbors.