Voices: The migrant God is for immigrants

Dr. Tony Miranda performing a baptism at Primera Iglesia Bautista de Austin (Photo courtesy of Dr. Tony Miranda)

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Jesus’ story is a story of the migrant God. He left heaven and established his tabernacle on Earth (John 1:14).

The biblical narrative tells us Jesus emptied himself by becoming like us and taking the form of a servant, being obedient to death, even death on the cross (Philippians 2:5-11).

This salvific story of the migrant God makes a point of connection with the stories of immigrants who leave their countries looking for better opportunities in life. In their migrant journeys, their personal stories intersect with the story of the migrant God who came from heaven to save them.

Baptizing immigrants

In addition to celebrating Christ’s victory over death and sin, Resurrection Sunday is a special occasion for baptisms because of the spiritual significance. It is always inspiring to see believers in Christ coming down to the baptismal waters confessing Jesus is the Lord of their lives.

This past Resurrection Sunday, Álvaro from Nicaragua and Josué from El Salvador went down into the baptismal waters.

Not too long ago, I also had the opportunity to baptize Anthony and Jason, teenage twin brothers from Honduras. After coming to the United States in 2019 with the first immigrant caravan of that year, they came to our church through some family connections.

Their story is shocking, how they had to leave their country alone, fleeing the social conflicts and gangs that wanted to recruit them. Their testimony is thrilling, how they met Christ and today serve the Lord in our church.

During their baptism service, their mother and her family in Honduras wept with emotion as they watched the live broadcast and saw how the brothers affirmed their faith in Christ by being immersed in the baptismal water.

Like these stories, many other immigrants are coming to Jesus around the United States. People who left their countries on a perilous journey and are establishing themselves in this country are coming to the knowledge of eternal life through Jesus Christ (John 17:3).

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Pointing immigrants to Christ

Today, the United States has one of the largest number of Latinos receptive to the gospel. About 20 percent of Latinos in this country have received the message of hope and salvation in their lives.

In stories like Jayson’s and Anthony’s, Álvaro’s and Josué’s, and many more, we see missions are coming to us. Even through the unfavorable situation of the immigration crisis in the United States, there is a divine purpose that these immigrants also experience a spiritual journey in their lives.

As the church, we should be prepared to proclaim the message of the migrant God to immigrants. Some ways to proclaim the gospel to the immigrant community include:

1. Seek opportunities to present the gospel of Christ and to serve people arriving in your community from other countries. Explore your community to know the demographic data surrounding your place of worship. This resource provides helpful information about race, language, religion and many other indicators that give a good picture of opportunities to serve immigrant families in the area.

2. Seek to build bridges of collaboration with organizations already serving the immigrant communities. Through going, giving and praying, join the missionary efforts—especially those helping to ease the crisis in border cities—of churches, associations, shelters and organizations serving immigrants.

3. Pay particular attention to immigrants and their families visiting your church. Some may have family connections in your church that provide a natural bridge for ministry. Many of these visitors are looking for a place to worship. It is not difficult to notice, many immigrants have a genuine desire to know more about God and his word.

4. Keep in mind: The Spanish language is essential in sharing the gospel and making disciples of immigrants from Latin American countries. In ministering to them, provide resources in their language to connect them to God. Implementing a contextualized ministry in Spanish will be of great help in this endeavor.

What efforts is your church making to reach immigrants in your community? How can you be involved in this missionary effort? Are you praying for immigrants to come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ?

Dr. Tony Miranda is pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista de Austin and president of Convención Bautista Hispana de Texas.

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