Written By: Dayton Yarrow, ESL Volunteer
The Level 3 English Class that I volunteer with every Thursday night at Mission Adelante is a room full of smiling faces, vibrant personalities, and inquisitive minds. It is a place where language learning happens and relationships are built. The time I spend engaging with the students often encourages and inspires me. It also reminds me that every person is made in God’s image with unique gifts and talents, no matter what country they are from or what language they speak. Against the backdrop of the challenges that our country is facing now and the various perceptions of the role of immigration in the United States, this classroom is a refreshing reminder that immigrants are people with unique stories, challenges, joys, and struggles. They are people that I can relate to and learn from.
Two years ago, I began working in Kansas City as an immigration law legal assistant. During that period I have watched the immigration debate in our country shift. It started as an undercurrent and has become a polarizing dispute that often runs on heated emotions and opinions. Personally, this can be difficult for me to navigate as it sometimes seems that people either have completely opposing views with no way to begin to see the other side of things or they are conflict averse (like myself) and would prefer not to engage in a debate at all.
It is easy to see only anger and irreconcilable differences. This can cause us to become discouraged or to be tempted to look the other way and decide it is easier to not engage. However, taking Christ’s command to “love our neighbor” means choosing to work toward understanding and reconciliation. Mission Adelante has modeled this by creating a place that loves and cares for immigrants who have found themselves here with us in the United States. They put faith into practice by reaching out and caring for immigrants and refugees and have helped me process the church’s role in participating in these challenges. The national debate is important, and it is worth engaging thoughtfully, strategically, and empathetically. In the meantime, we cannot neglect the opportunity that we have to love and care for our immigrant neighbors, to connect with and learn from them. What an opportunity to participate in what God is doing in our world!
Do you want to make a difference in a kid's life? Mission Adelante's Leaders In Training (LIT) program needs volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit their website at www.missionadelante.org/kids.