People have a lot to say about immigration. Voices on all sides argue strongly for action and change. But I know, as many fellow church-goers know, that immigration is personal. Behind the politics, there are stories of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They come to our churches, schools, libraries and parks. Many need help. 

While a nearby technical college offered ESL classes, there weren’t conversational classes available to immigrants in our community, so that is where Elmbrook Church started. Church volunteers got to know immigrants and their stories, and immigrants were able to practice their English skills. In four years, our services to immigrants have grown: We now offer legal assistance, fill out complex immigration forms, help in the naturalization process, assist in navigating the process of petitioning for family members and getting a green card, and much more.

It’s our goal to walk with people wherever they are. We fill gaps in the community that other agencies are not providing, or we point people to where they can find help. Most of the immigrants that come through our doors aren’t church attenders. Some start attending after they get to know us. Regardless, we, and they, are blessed as we endeavor to welcome the stranger.

This article originally appeared in the NAE Insight.

Jason Knapp
Jason Knapp serves as pastor of mission at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin. He provides leadership in ministering to immigrants, in encouraging families to become involved in foster care and adoption, and in equipping the church members to engage in their community. He also oversees Elmbrook’s three community outreach centers. Knapp received a B.A. in cross-cultural ministries from New Tribes Missions Institute.