WAXAHACHIE, Texas (Mennonite Mission Network, Mennonite Church USA) — When Christians talk about immigration, the conversation is not necessarily Christ-like. M. Daniel Carroll Rodas wants to bring the Bible back into the debate.
From September 18-20, Carroll will be the keynote speaker at a Christian conversation about immigration. “And you welcomed me: A consultation of the people of God on immigration” will be held at the Lakeview Camp and Conference Center in Waxahachie, Texas, near Dallas. It is open to anyone interested in a Christian response to immigration issues.
Carroll has been working at guiding a Christian conversation around immigration. His most recent book is Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church and the Bible. Carroll is a distinguished professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary, where he founded the Spanish-speaking training program. He is also a former professor of Old Testament and ethics and director of graduate studies at El Seminario Teológico Centroamericano (Central American Theological Seminary) in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and he continues to teach there in an adjunct role.
Although his mother is Guatemalan and he grew up around immigrants, it wasn’t until Carroll returned from Guatemala to teach in Denver that he began to really examine immigration issues.
“I had conversations with people who claimed to be Christians, but [the conversations] were ones you’d have with anyone; mostly about the economics of immigration, questions about hospitals and schools,” Carroll explained. “There were also other questions like, ‘Why don’t they learn the language?’ But we weren’t having a specifically Christian conversation.”
So Carroll asked himself what a Christian conversation would look like. And, more specifically, what the Bible has to say about immigration. As he began to draw out the numerous references to immigration within the Old Testament, he shared the scriptures with Christians he spoke with. Their typical response, according to Carroll: “Wow, I never realized that was in there.”
Carroll hopes the conversation will help attendees who are already invested in immigration issues deepen their scriptural knowledge. He also wants to supply them with information to take back to their congregations.
“What I want to do is walk people through how much the Bible has to say about migrant peoples, and give them tools and teaching to take home,” said Carroll. “This issue is about not only trying to pass constructive legislation, but also trying to change people’s hearts.”
In addition to Carroll’s scriptural focus, additional seminars on immigration law, advocacy, education, and mental health will be led by Miriam Cardenas, Jennifer Dorrie and Jodi Read of Mennonite Central Committee West Coast; and Gilberto Perez, a mental health professional based in Goshen, Ind.
Mennonite Mission Network (Peace and Justice Support Network, Urban Leaders Network), Executive Leadership of Mennonite Church USA and Western District Conference are planning and convening the event.
Registration is available online at www.MennoniteMission.net/Immigration. Information and registration is available in both English and Spanish. Save money by registering before August 25. Final registration deadline is September 1.
Contact Becky Tyson for more information at BeckyT@MennoniteMission.net, 574-523-3076, or toll-free at 1-866-866-2872.