Loving the Strangers Among Us
May 21, 28, and June 4
Smiler Greely stood proudly in the crowded hallway of a Buffalo public school next to his son, Mo Jo. They called him "Smiler" because of his memorable and frequently displayed grin, one that was damaged from fighting in the jungles of Burma. "Times have been very hard for the Karen people," Smiler said tearfully as he watched Mo Jo walk down the hall to join his classmates. "But it is moments like these that give us hope." Countless immigrants like Smiler have endured untold hardships and risked all for the hope of one day finding a better life for their families. Once they reach this new world, immigrants face unfamiliar struggles, and find themselves estranged from their culture, language and any remnance of power. Does the Bible provide a theology of immigration? How are we as Christians to respond to this topic, and relate to immigrants in our own communities? Let's explore the theological and biblical narrative of immigration, and discuss how we as the Church can love the strangers among us (Deuteronomy 10:19).
After graduating from Westmont College, Austin Lillenberg worked with the refugee population in Buffalo, NY before returning to Santa Barbara to serve a legal clinic through Immigrant Hope. He is an accredited representative of the Bureau of Immigration Appeals and cherishes all forms of Mexican food. Currently a CMC at the Pueblo Free Methodist Church, Austin loves to see what God is doing on the West Side of Santa Barbara. Austin is Married to Alex Lillenberg. They have a 1 year-old daughter, Eden. When he is not trying to get Eden to fall asleep at all hours of the night, Austin enjoys playing guitar, hiking and having good discussions.