When you hear the word “immigration”, what comes to mind? As we wrap up our sermon series Uncompromised: Holding to Christian Convictions in a Cancel Culture, Oscar Castillo gives us five biblical principles about immigration and global persecution that will align our focus with God’s heart on these subjects.
Uncompromised | Immigration & Persecution of Church Internationally
Uncompromised | Race & Racism
Uncompromised | Sexuality: Gender, Sex, and Porn
Uncompromised | Sanctity of Life
Uncompromised | Law & Religious Liberties
Uncompromised | Truth & Culture
When you hear the word “immigration”, what comes to mind? As we wrap up our sermon series Uncompromised: Holding to Christian Convictions in a Cancel Culture, Oscar Castillo gives us five biblical principles about immigration and global persecution that will align our focus with God’s heart on these subjects.
Oscar Castillo: Buenos dias familia y amigos de Watermark. How are we doing? Praise God! Good morning, Watermark family. It is an honor for me to be here. My name is Oscar Castillo. If we haven't had the chance to meet, I'd love to go out to lunch with you one of these days. Just don't take me to Chipotle. Okay? Just remember that from last week. For those of you who are like, "What? What's he talking about?" just reference last week.
It is truly an honor to be here, and on behalf of Watermark en Español and that team who are getting after it, being and making disciples of Spanish speakers here in Dallas, in our country, and all over the world, especially into Latin America, we'd like to tell you: muchas gracias por darnos creando espacio para nosotros. Thank you, family, for making room for us.
Let me tell you, because of your faithfulness to God and your support and prayers, we are now at a point where we're offering our Spanish-speaking service in Spanish every Sunday in the Loft at 11:15. Actually, some of those Spanish speakers are here today. I'm just super thankful for what God is doing with Watermark en Español. We're now offering Equipped Disciple, re|engage, Summit, Women's Bible Study. We're offering Community Groups completely in Spanish, and we, God willing, soon will also offer re:generation.
We arrive at the end of our Uncompromised series. The last few weeks have been some topics that have been, obviously, very controversial in our culture. (By the way, I'll just say this. I'm thinking in two languages as I'm speaking to you, so bear with me. Give me grace.) One of the things we've seen is that culture uses these topics to divide us, but when we go to God's Word, they're actually opportunities to unite. They're opportunities to be on mission.
When we lose our perspective and don't inform our hearts and our minds with God's Word, we fall prey to the schemes of the Enemy. We can inform our perspective through the news and the headlines. I picked out four here for you to see. We won't dive into them, but those are the recent ones. If you read some of those headlines, many times they're angled. They're not seeking unity. They're looking to flare up our emotions and the way we react, and then they pit us against each other, many times with people we have never met.
One of the things, as believers, we need to learn is, instead of falling prey to the news headlines, to fall into the arms of Jesus and give in to his good news. The gospel of Christ is what will unite us. The gospel of Jesus Christ is what is going to unite the church and equip us to move forward. So, may we rise above the noise and learn more about our King's polity and inform ourselves of what he would desire for us to do in this moment in history, and especially in the history of our church, as we move forward and we look and ask, "God, what would you want us to do in our city that has so many people from all over the world moving here?" May we tune in to what God has to say.
Now, when you hear that word immigration, which is the topic we're going to address today… For me, it's very personal because it's part of my story. You see, I grew up in the tiny Central American country of El Salvador. I remember growing up there in the 1980s. (Actually, my parents are right here, and my lovely wife.) We immigrated here when I was 7 years old.
I remember having to hunker down and shelter in place because we could hear the bullets hitting the other side of the concrete wall outside of our house. I remember looking outside my home window and seeing helicopters nose-dive and spray the insurgency because they were trying to take over the country. I remember having to go to the grocery story, taking shelter in the bottom part of the seats so we wouldn't be shot at, and had a very long pole with a white flag outside so we wouldn't be mistaken as the guerrilla.
That moment in history in our country displaced so many Salvadorians and many Central American countries nearby. Countries from all over the world opened up their doors. France and Great Britain and Germany and the United States were open and hospitable and said, "Come here and take refuge." Because there were so many people being displaced, the church-planting network my dad was a part of (he was a local church pastor in El Salvador) began to think, "How can we start to church-plant in those host countries?"
So, Dad felt called by God to come to the United States and plant a church, which eventually was started in West Dallas where I grew up. If it wasn't for God's divine providence, I wouldn't be standing in front of you today. It has been God's plan all around to be at this moment in front of you to share with you that God is the one who moves people, and sometimes we don't understand. I don't, many times, understand why it is I have been so blessed to be here and to be in front of you and to share what he has.
But I can tell you this: when we understand that God is on the move, we'll realize, "Hey, it could be that God is ushering in a new way, which is his way, God's kingdom way, that he wants us to be a part of." So, today, if there's one thing I want you to walk away with… A verse I use a lot whenever we come onto this topic of immigration is Micah 6:8. This verse says, "He has told you, O man, what is good…"
Church, we know what is good. God is good. His provision of Jesus is good. The power of the Holy Spirit in us is good. "…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice…" Why? Because God is just. "…and to love kindness…" Why? Because God is kind. "…and to walk humbly with your God?" Because through Jesus we see a model of humility. So, this morning, I want us to look at four biblical principles that are in the realm of immigration.
This is where I want you to draw in, familia. Whenever we only think of protecting our borders or only loving the immigrant and we kind of pit them against each other, we're selling ourselves short to what maybe God is doing all over the world. Those are only two facets of the entire conversation when it comes to immigration. Actually, to be honest with you, I've had to rewrite my sermon about eight times (I lost count) because there's so much to cover in this topic.
So, if I leave any point out, I want you to know it's not because we're not interested, but rather, for time's sake, we're trying to focus in and equip us to start to have the conversations. Let this not be just an end-all, be-all but rather the beginning of a conversation where we start to learn that, yes, we are a country with borders, and we need to be a country with borders, and we also are a country that is informed by Judeo-Christian ethics where we can love the immigrant. That's what we're going to talk about today.
I want to speak to you about these four biblical principles. To give you kind of a road map of where we're going, the first two points will address God's heart and kingdom. The third one will talk about what the church's role is in all this, understanding that we are a part of a kingdom. Then we'll talk about the role of government and what God has asked the government to do, how he designed the government to oversee the movement of people, and how God uses government.
With that said, I just want to say, I believe this is an opportunity for the church to thrive, for the church to not be informed by other stories other than God's story. If we do that, I believe this could be our finest hour, so much in our country but also for our church, given the context we're in and the blessing of being in this international city. Amen?
We know, as followers of Jesus and those who have accepted God's provision through Jesus Christ, that God is King and through him we can understand and learn and experience peace and joy and kindness, which is what we're all after. Everyone all over the world is desiring these things that can only come from God himself. Our citizenship is obtained by accepting this provision in Jesus Christ.
So, if you're new today or you're exploring the faith, I want to tell you it is through Jesus you can have access to this benevolent King. It is through Jesus you can have the peace you're yearning for. It's peace that is not found in riches or temporal things of this world but, rather, found in the big truths and transcendent truths that are established and revealed to us through who God is and his heart.
This kingdom we're a part of is one that is very upside down if we use our culture as the reference point, but when we understand the kingdom of God, we realize those who are more powerful are the ones who are more humble. The ones who are more loved are not the ones who have done more things but the ones who recognize they are loved even more.
You see, in God's kingdom, he takes the marginalized, he takes the poor, he takes the immigrant, he takes all those who perhaps are outcasted, and he gives them a seat at the table. It's through Jesus that we see the model of a servant leader, and through him we understand there is a way for us to experience not only him today but also to see brokenness leave our lives because of who he is, not because of who we are. The best citizens are those who are submitted to God's law, will, and way.
I say that because, as we walk on this earth where we have different countries and countries with borders and governments that are established, the kingdom of God has no borders and goes and can be established in each one of those. It doesn't negate those governments but, rather, gives them a way to better legislate, to better lead. It is God's kingdom we use as a reference point. That's why it's important, when we engage in this topic of immigration, that we start there: Who are we? Who does God say we are? And from there, start to move forward in understanding our surroundings.
Beyond our family's heritage, we need to know our biblical heritage. We know God used Abraham and commanded him to leave his place of origin. Joseph was a victim of human trafficking. Moses, 400 years after Joseph, would eventually lead the people of Israel, becoming a caravan of migrants and refugees in the desert led by God himself. Ruth would marry a foreigner. In her own land, her husband died, and Ruth traveled to the land of her husband's family to seek family unity, just as many migrants do today. Ruth would become part of the lineage of Jesus.
There are so many people, and through God's story we see that he moves them, but they knew who they were a part of and who they were after. Hebrews 11:13-16 really shows us… In essence, it's a compass for all of us as we journey through life. Where is true north? It's God's heart, God's kingdom ways. Look at what it says in verse 13.
"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one."
This is really important. Because they are that way and because they know who they are in this experience of life, look at what it says there. "Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." As those who are of the kingdom, we are on a journey. We are a part of God's caravan. Family, we're not home yet. When we know that, all of the temporal things of this world have no value than what God can give to us. That is important for us to know as part of our identity as the church of God, that we move forward with that being what distinguishes us and what describes us.
Deuteronomy 10:18-19: "He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt." God chose to have a people on the move as part of his love story to reach the world. The church should be on the move, led by his heart and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus goes on to tell his followers, "I was one who was naked…" This is what it says in Matthew 25:42-45:
"'For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'"
Who are the least of these among us today? That is a question we must ask the Lord to guide us. Who are those in our community who are being left in the shadows and being marginalized? Church, it's very easy to create a defense whenever we feel canceled, but it's very easy to justify that by also canceling others. We need to be those who receive of God's mercy and receive identity from him and not cancel others, because when we walk in the Spirit, we will see all people made in the image of God.
Meaning, it is part of God's story that we are to love the sojourner, the stranger, the marginalized, the weaker people, and we are to be those who have justice. Let me clarify that. When I say weaker people, I'm not trying to diminish anybody by placing classes, because that's what sin does in our hearts. There are people who don't have positions of privilege. There are people who don't have access to certain things.
That's what's happening in my birth country as well. You see this struggle between those who have access to greater things and those who are continually being oppressed. As followers of Jesus, we have an opportunity to step into those gaps and be those who say, "No. No more unjust, but be the God who is justice." We are the ones to display that and manifest that in our communities. One of the things we have constantly prayed for as a church is "God, would you help us reach the 10/40 Window?"
God has answered that by bringing international students. How many international students are in here today? Look at this. Many international students are here. We have people from all over the world moving to Dallas to make this place their home. I believe God has answered those prayers for us. May we answer the call to be the church, to be the institution, the embassy of God's kingdom on this earth. Now, what is the role of government? I think this is important, because God ordains governments.
God uses governments to maintain order. God uses governments to establish laws. And it's good. Law is good. Actually, in essence, at its heart, it's a loving thing. You imagine a country with no laws is a country that's chaotic. It's a country that's disorganized. It's a country where it's a free-for-all and everybody gets to do whatever they think is right. Does that kind of ring a bell and a part of a story where people did whatever was right in their own eyes? God establishes governments and gives them an opportunity to establish his law on this earth.
So, as believers, we have an opportunity, especially here in our beloved country of America. It is a very unique experience that we're in. We get to vote. We get to hold the people we vote in, our elected officials, accountable. We can call them and say, "Hey, that's not what we want you to do." As followers of Jesus, we have a unique opportunity, where we're here in this country, to be able to be used all over the world to show that God's law leads to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
You see, that comes from a Judeo-Christian ethic. Where do you see in the Bible, especially as you think about our Declaration of Independence…? It says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident…" What? "…that all men are created equal." That comes from Genesis 1:27. So, what an opportunity we have today as the church, in this context, at this time, for such a time as this, to put into laws those laws that mirror our God's laws, his kingdom.
The same laws should apply to everyone within a country's borders…citizens, naturalized, those unauthorized, and all immigrants…as it is stated in Exodus 12:49. Here's the truth: we should not let everyone in. I have these conversations with friends who are also in that predicament, where they're here, and they're having to wrestle with "Hey, I would love to be legal here in the country, but I feel kind of with my back against the wall." I tell them, "Hey, listen. There is a way in which we can honor God and also honor our government and fulfill that which we see in 1 Peter 2."
So, the same laws… I said that, and I want to repeat it. People coming from all over the world, especially with a lot of displacements… Most of the time, the thought can be, "Hey, I get to come to this country and get to do whatever I get to do in my birth country." No. That's why there are laws, and that's why, church, we should inform our polity, our politicians, our laws to mirror God's laws, so then all can be given a just opportunity to go and gain legal status here.
Here's the other thing. We shouldn't let everybody in, but we can't stop letting people in, as well. That's a tension to kind of grab both of those sides. "Wait. So, we have to stop certain people from coming, and then some people come in." Yes, because, in a sense, we need to not have those people who hurt our country come into our country. That is not loving to anybody, especially those who have established, who have lived here for a long time. We must be a country that has laws.
I would also add a country without borders is no longer a country. It would lead to chaos and social disorder. I'm reminded of that poem. How many of you know "The New Colossus"? Have you ever heard of that before? It's the poem that's etched at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty. It says:
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
You see, from the beginning and the genesis of our country, it has been the experience of immigrants to come and to make this what it is now. I believe it's the Judeo-Christian ethic that undergirded it that has led it to be where it is now, and it is up to us, as the church, to step in and to continue that and not be silent. That's why this topic in this series is very important: for us not to compromise on God's truth but, rather, to stand firm on his ways, because our country needs it, but even more, our families need it.
God can use our country to establish his kingdom all around the world. I'm not saying America is the hope of the world. Hear me say that. That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is God's heart, God's kingdom, is what is the hope of the world. Jesus is the hope of the world, and when we make that a part of our DNA, that's where we can see prosperity. We can see a country flourish to where it can be whenever it's informed by God's polity.
So, God cares for immigrants, and our country was founded by this guiding principle. Everyone within our country's borders should live under our laws and not laws of other countries of origin. Once you're here, we must submit to our laws and God-given opportunity. Now, you may be saying, "Hold on. Are you saying every single law of our country is perfect and should not be challenged?" No.
What I'm telling you is if any law here is not in line with God's kingdom and God's law, we, as the church, need to stand up and speak up and advocate. Not hurt the people who are here but, rather, say, "Hey, that is not in alignment with God's kingdom." That's the beauty of what we have, church. We're in this moment in history to be able to change our laws and to inform them.
I have conversations with friends who come from, especially, Latin America, and most of them have stories that you're just like, "Wow!" They're in really tough predicaments. Some of them have actually left their countries, not because they just want to come and overtake another country, but because of need, because of persecution, because of sometimes famine, natural disasters. They find themselves thinking, "This is what I need to do: somehow get in, somehow seek refuge."
As the church, we have an opportunity to be empathetic. We talked about this last week. We can, yes, continue to honor our laws but then also love the immigrant, love the sojourner, and be God's agent and ambassador in this time. Don't fall prey, church, to that which puts those two ideas and juxtaposes them but, rather, see this is actually part of a bigger conversation. Immigration is the movement of people, and guess who's behind many of the movements we've seen, not only in history but also in our history: God himself.
With that, I think it's important that we treat all immigrants with kindness and justice. Remember I started with Micah 6:8. I believe that is a way in which we can be ambassadors of the kingdom today. The views can divide us, but we can be united. I'm about to make kind of a hard right turn, so tune in with me. Remember I told you about international persecution? International persecution is actually another facet of immigration.
When we read God's Word, we see that God uses persecution. God used persecution to move people and to fulfill his kingdom ways. We look at Hebrews 13:3: "Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body." I thought it would be important to note that a percentage of those who are at our borders today are actually fleeing religious persecution. Some are in very tough predicaments.
So, I just think it's important that we zoom out and not just zone in on those two facets, but rather look at this as a more holistic conversation. Let's be encouraged by our brothers and sisters who will never make it to our borders, who will give their lives to stand uncompromised, who will give their lives and shed their blood for the sake of seeing God's kingdom move forward.
I asked my friend Tom Doyle with Uncharted Ministries to come and join us and give us a glimpse of what God is doing all over the world, because as we think about immigration, we need to know God's heart, but we also need to know what it is God is doing globally, what his movement is. Let's just learn from that.
Tom is a good friend. Good to see you, brother. Tom and I actually had an opportunity to serve together in a local nonprofit. So, Tom, do you want to tell them a little bit about what you focus on? I don't want to sell you short, but I think you do so many great things. He goes into some of the closed countries, unreached people groups. What other stuff do you get to do?
Tom Doyle: We stand with the persecuted also, and we are privileged to write books and do videos with I Found the Truth, former Muslims who have come to faith in Christ, and their stories are thrilling. I mean, their commitment level is way up here. So, we're church planters. We work all throughout the Middle East, and we get to see what God is doing. It's pretty amazing these days. My wife JoAnn and I have worked in the Middle East for over 20 years. Paul said in Colossians, "All over the world the gospel is bearing fruit, just like it did among you."
It's so easy here to think about our country, but what's happening in the other countries? What's happening in the dangerous areas? Right now… It would be hard to believe. You never hear this on the news. The fastest-growing church per capita in the world is the region of the Middle East. This is where you can get persecuted. This is where you can lose your life if you come to faith in Christ and reject Islam.
The good news is more Muslims have come to faith in Christ in the last 10 years than in the last 1,400 years of Islam. Can you believe that? Ten years…1,400 years. God is moving. It's like he's running a special on Muslims. They're open. The gospel is surging wherever we go.
Oscar: So, what are the top three countries…? You say it's Iran, but then we also have Libya, as well.
Tom: Libya is a dangerous country. North Korea…
Oscar: Tell them that story.
Tom: From Iran?
Oscar: Yeah, from Iran. Then I want you to go into that story of that lady in Libya.
Tom: We were privileged to smuggle Bibles into Iran. We had 500 Bibles and three of us going in. When you go in… You know, you're Americans. They question you a couple of hours. Then you have to put your bags on the scanner. That would be when you pray, because 500 Bibles. We had one change of clothes, all Bibles.
So, they're on the scanner, and there's a soldier here, and there's a big screen TV, and, man, it is invasive. It can see everything. So, we're up next. Every single bag has been opened in front of us. I get up there. I say to the guy (he speaks English), "Hey, should I put my backpack up here?" He says, "No, that's okay. You can carry it." He says, "You're from America?" I said, "Yeah." He goes, "What in the world are you doing here?" I thought that was an unusual greeting.
He said, "Our countries hate each other." I said, "Well, we love the Iranians. We wanted to come here and meet people, see the sights." This guy just takes off. He starts talking. He is so excited to talk to an American. He's not looking at the bags. I kind of notice the screen, and there are the rows and the stacks. He's not looking. He says to me, "I want to go to California. I have a cousin in Los Angeles. There are 250,000 Iranians in LA. They call it 'Tehrangeles.' And I want to go to Disneyland."
Then, finally, he says, "Hey, Mr. Doyle, I have a question for you." I thought, "This is where it gets bad." He goes, "Have you ever had an In-N-Out burger?" I said, "Man, they're great." He goes, "I want to do that. Let's do it sometime." He gives me a fist bump. Then he looks. "Oh, your bags are gone. Welcome to Iran." Every one of them gets in. The very next bag… "All right. Open it up, buddy."
But, immediately, we met with the underground church, and we just happened to be covertly handing out some Bibles in Tehran, carefully, and all of a sudden, a guy came up to me and said, "I need you to come to my house. I have to talk to you." I said, "Whoa! Okay." He said, "My wife and I need to talk to you."
So we went. I didn't realize it was not an appointment. It was a dinner. They had kebabs, and the cousins came. There were 29 of them. So, this is a meeting, I guess. I thought it was just talking. We eat, and all the hospitality. He just sets a chair in front of me, and he says, "I've got to ask you. I saw you giving out a Bible. Tell me about Jesus." I said, "Wow! You want to know about Jesus?" "I need to know about Jesus." I said, "Can I ask why?" He said, "Because he has been coming to me in dreams every night, and he tells me he loves me."
So we shared. This guy had questions. He'd been dealing with this for a while. A couple of hours go by, and he just says this (he's the patriarch of the family): "I'm ready to follow Jesus. Anybody in the family want to go with me?" It's kind of like The Godfather. You don't say "No." They all raised their hands. I don't know. Did they all pray to receive Christ? I know he did.
I get home, and his sons are emailing us and saying, "We can't believe what Jesus did to our dad." They have two sisters, but they don't always get the language right, the transliteration. One of the sons says, "My sisters are hot for Jesus." But we knew what they meant.
Oscar: On fire for Jesus.
Tom: Here's the amazing thing. He was a publisher. He published books. He was charged with publishing Ahmadinejad's book (the leader of Iran right under the Ayatollah). Within the first month of knowing Christ, he called in and told them, "I respectfully decline. I can't publish this book." When he told us he was going to do that, we said, "They will kill you." He said, "But, Tom, Jesus wouldn't want me to publish this book, would he?" "Well, no." "Well, that's the answer then." He's still alive today. Amazing.
Oscar: You never know… You know those verses under the In-N-Out cups? Pray when you read those. Anyway, tell me the story about… By the way, we could sit here with Tom, and he has so many stories. He has written several books about that, so go see some of his books. Tell them the story about the lady in Libya. I just think that is… What an example of an uncompromised believer.
Tom: So, Miriam is a woman who is Muslim. Her family is very fanatical, and she comes to faith in Christ. People share with her. A lot of things going on. She reads the Word of God. She is convinced. Some of our leaders are working with her, discipling her. She's now in Syria, but her brother is in the Islamic State in Libya, and he's high up. He's high ranking. They're still around.
So, she comes to faith in Christ. She's just lit up, and she calls him on the phone. The first person to tell that she has found Jesus is her brother. I would think you would avoid that conversation for a while. She calls him and tells him, "I found Jesus," tells the story, and he says, "I will get on a plane and come and kill you. I'm coming to Syria to do it." She says, "Well, you can do that, but you're still going to need Jesus. He died for your sins."
It ended up, that week, they were having an open baptism in the Mediterranean Sea, and they thought, "Is Miriam going to show up? I mean, her brother is looking for her. He's here." Not only did she show up, but she brought seven women, all former Muslims, who she had led to Christ already in her first few weeks of being a believer, and they were gloriously baptized in the Mediterranean. She's still alive. Jesus is protecting her, but she's willing to die for him.
Oscar: Wow! Amen. Praise be to God on that. Again, these are contexts where, because you are a follower of Jesus, you will be persecuted. In essence, that is what they… I say "they" because when I've sat down in front of people who have been in that predicament, they say, "It's a blessing to suffer for Jesus." Do we see it that way? What an opportunity we have. So, Tom, I know we talk about things that are going on in the Middle East, but what's happening here in our city, in our backyard?
Tom: People say, "Is persecution coming to America?" It's already here. There are former Muslims who have been killed by their families in four states in America. Look at the rhetoric that is on the news. Not on the conservative stations, but we are seeing that, first, when it comes to persecution, there is accusation, and look at what Christians are being accused of. We're the ones who are holding up things, and we're a problem, and this and that.
So, there's accusation. Then there's persecution. I believe it's coming. But we're the church, and we're blessed to be living… This is the greatest century to be living, outside of the first century with Jesus and the apostles, because more people are coming to faith in Christ. Yeah, what do you do with people who come through immigration?
There's a church up in the Northwest, and there was a group coming from Syria. They were Muslims. They were immigrants. There was a pastor in a church in this one city who stood up and preached and said, "We don't want them in our city. We're not going to let them in." My first thought was, "What about the gospel? Jesus has brought them here."
Well, there was another church in the city, and they decided to be different. Do you know what they did? They found out from the city when the planes were coming in with the immigrants from Syria, and they showed up at the airport. They had cardboard signs in Arabic, and they said, "Welcome to our city. We're glad you're here. We're your friends, and we love Jesus." They embraced them and welcomed them to the city.
They didn't stop there. Do you know what they did in the summer? They did a Muslim vacation Bible school. They invited them to let their kids come, and they said, "Hey, we want your kids to come. We'll teach them. We'll have fun. We'll play games. We'll do crafts. We'll tell them about Jesus." They were not so sure. "And we'll take your kids Monday through Friday." "What day does that start? What week is that?"
They were open, and they just loved these people. Some of them have come to faith in Christ. Why do I say that? Because Texas has more Muslims living in the state than any other state in the union. They're here. So what are we going to do? Ignore them? We say in our ministry, "The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming!" The Muslims are here. So, let's go get them, church. They want to know the truth.
Oscar: Tom, thank you so much. Help me give him a hand. Thank you, brother. I believe this can be our church's finest hour. It could be our country's finest hour when we adopt God's perspective of what's going on around us. I have to say, we had Afghan refugees resettling here, and there are many Watermark families that have stood up and said, "We want to welcome them." There are several families that have gotten with their Community Groups and have said, "Hey, we're going to furnish their apartments," because they're starting from scratch.
I have seen you, church, be the hands and feet of Jesus. May we all join in and see what God is seeing, because it could be that what we think is a crisis at our border could be a blessing in disguise. That's what we have as believers. Our best gift that we can give any immigrant, or to anybody in this world, is a relationship through Jesus Christ. That's the best thing we can give to anyone who's around us.
So, I want to end by reading to you Matthew 28:18-20. As we end our Uncompromised series, I believe we've been challenged, we've been encouraged to stand firm in the faith, to persevere, to tell the truth, yet do it with grace and love. We have an opportunity, church, to be the difference, and the revival we all desire starts with us. When we obtain God's perspective, we realize we're all immigrants. We're all in God's caravan on our way to our homeland.
Matthew 28 is Jesus talking to his disciples and giving them a charge and saying, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Church, that is our charge, and that is our mission.
God is on the move, and we are part of that kingdom expansion. May we see it come to pass in our country, as we are the voice for the voiceless, as we stand with eyes of mercy and love and see what Jesus is seeing and go forward in that as our identity. I'm going to give you five different ways you can get involved right now. The first one actually has three under them, because it's about going somewhere.
The first place I think you should go is right across the street somewhere where you probably have never gone to before, perhaps in your neighborhood. Perhaps it's that restaurant you've seen from afar. Perhaps it has a different language on the top of it. I encourage you to trust Jesus and to go into that place and be the light, because it could be that God could use you by just your smile and your love to do some amazing things. We have an opportunity to love immigrants with empathy, guidance, and patience.
The second one is to get involved with one of our ministries that is reaching out to college campuses. For example, WISI (Watermark International Student Initiative). You can disciple and be a part and make friendships with international students who are here just for a brief time. Or another ministry partner called For the Nations. They are the ministry that is helping a lot of refugees who are resettling here and is mobilizing our church. We thank God for their life.
Perhaps God is calling you to go overseas. God, many times, desires for us to surrender everything, and he may use us and take us out of our geography and make us immigrants somewhere else to fulfill his purpose. So, perhaps God is calling you to go overseas. If that is you, if you want to be on mission at a place outside of our country and God has been tugging at your heart to do that, I'm going to encourage you to email firstname.lastname@example.org. That word TRAC means trained, ready, able, and confirmed.
If that is you and God has been tugging in your heart to do that, it could be that you may be deployed through that. We have a whole ministry that's dedicated to that. Another one is Compassion. It's the kids we get a chance to sponsor through Compassion, our ministry partner. If you're interested in discipling from afar, go to watermark.org/compassion to have more information. There you can disciple a child, get to learn their context, and see how you can encourage them in their walk with Christ.
Now, a Bible drive is coming. For our Christmas push, we're going to have a Bible… You heard Tom, how they take Bibles into these closed countries. We'll be able to do that and partake of that and be a part of God's story in doing that, and that'll be our push. You can get more information at watermark.org/news for that. The other one is to pray for the nations. Don't forget those who are persecuted. Remember your family who may never come to our borders. Remember that they are also on mission, and they have also been called to be the light in the midst of darkness.
As I told you at the beginning, there's no way I could cover all points, but I pray these four principles we studied today are good for a conversation starter. Now I'm going to end with this. You see, my wife, as you'll see up here… My wife is beautiful. I love her. What has been really neat to know about her is her family heritage. She has relatives in past generations, the 1600s… Before we were even a country, there were Puritans who came here. They were fleeing persecution. Knowing that, I was like, "Wow!" Isn't that amazing?
In the 1800s, she had more family come from Scandinavia, from Sweden. They also migrated here, because they were at the point of starvation, and they came here. It's so crazy to see how God uses those stories of people on the move to fulfill his purpose. The fact that we're together and we're able to talk about that… Isn't that crazy how God moves people, and here we are at this moment?
We're about to step into a national holiday that is actually celebrating that story of Pilgrims coming to our country, to this land. What an opportunity we get to be grateful for the time we're in, to not grow discouraged but to say, "Let's go, church." It is our time to stand up. It is our time to see God at work as we become the hands and feet of Jesus. Let me pray for us.
God, thank you for this time together. Thank you for who you are. Thank you because you have us at this moment, at this time, for such a time as this. Holy Spirit, empower us, guide us, and show us the way and what you would want us to accomplish, not only in this season of our lives, but also in this point in history of our lives. May we do your perfect will and represent your kingdom well, God. In Jesus' name, amen.