Encouragement on the Long Road to Change: Solidarity and Equipping in Chicago
Sep 15, 2010 by M. Daniel Carroll R. | 1 Comments
The change in immigration legislation and in the status of millions of undocumented immigrants, which many hope for, seems to be illusive and perhaps more far off than many would like. Some of the media perpetuates myths and misinformation about immigrants (“they don’t want to learn English”; “they are a drag on the economy”; “they foster gangs and violence”; etc.) that only serve to excite anger and fear. Of course, these inaccurate views and unfortunate attitudes seep into churches and make it more difficult to present there sound biblical, theological, and historical bases for constructive change in this country.
Last week, however, was a breadth of fresh air and a shot in the arm. The annual conference of the CCDA (Christian Community Development Association) was held in Chicago from Tuesday until Saturday (8-11 September). This organization, which is the umbrella for ministries all over the nation that work among the poor and vulnerable, was founded by the Reverend John Perkins. The call for social justice as part of the full gospel, grounded in a very strong commitment to the Scriptures, is part of CCDA’s “DNA.” Several thousand, of all ages and races, came together for song and Bible study, plenary sessions, workshops, and films on a wide variety of topics related to a host of pressing issues.
This year, though, the conference highlighted the topic of immigration. There were dozens of workshops dealing with a biblical and theological orientation (I did a three hour session), pragmatic and pastoral challenges, and the legal realities at the local and federal levels. The evening film series focused on the experiences of immigrants, both their trek here and their difficult life in the U.S. Some of the workshops were held off-site in neighborhoods around metro-Chicago. Mine, for example, was in the Pui Tak Center in Chinatown and others were at the La Villita Community Church.
It is such an encouragement to be with and learn from others who are trying to make a difference for immigrants, to realize that there are people all over the country in a host of organizations and churches involved with immigrants, and to share experiences with others on this journey. Each of us has a small part in a broader effort at transformation; together we are making a significant difference.
So, ¡ánimo!, as we say in Spanish. The words of Paul continue to ring true:
“Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (I Cor. 15:58; NRSV)