According to the Visitor magazine, some predominately Spanish churches are experiencing a drop in attendance among their immigrant congregations.
The reason given is that the United States Immigration policy is causing fear among some SDA members. One pastor of a Potomac Conference Spanish church in the Washington, D.C., area has noticed a decline in attendance at his predominately immigrant congregation. “Especially during those first few weeks after the election [2016 Presidential], I noticed a large decline in attendance among my members. They stayed home out of fear,” he says.
At least two SDA families in Ohio have packed up and moved back to their home country, due to their illegal immigration status, and fear of being arrested by ICE. Illegal immigrants in Virginia have asked their school principal to hold a notarized note saying who their children should stay with if they are deported.
Rubén Ramos, vice president for Multilingual Ministries at the Columbia Union Conference, reports that there are more than 40,000 members in multilingual churches in the union.
“They're providing an essential contribution to Christ´s missions in our territory. A real sense of uncertainty, fear has filled the immigrant communities around us. Therefore, we have now a great opportunity to bring assurance and faith to so many in the community, transforming our congregations in centers of hope.”
According to Katherine Canto, an immigration lawyer from Maryland, “The current situation has either caused people to go deeper into hiding or it has caused them to move into action and work on their immigration status.”
Some are calling for the Adventist Church to be an advocate for immigrants, such as Anissa Perez-Perla from the Potomac Conference Arise church.
It is a good time to emphasize God's protection, encourage our immigrant members to hold on tightly to Christ, and obey the laws of the land. We are all looking for that better country, and may it come soon (Hebrews 11:16).
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