Being raised in a Christian family, I learned the basic principles of helping others, especially those who have little resources, little power, and little, if any, representation. Through the Christian community, I was able to help provide basic needs to homeless people, build houses for orphans, and help similarly underrepresented people. All along my path of service, my faith has grown stronger. As a result, I learned that faith and social justice issues cannot be separated. That is why I am still fighting for social justice issues like immigrant rights in many ways including through my Christian faith.
The Bible contains with multiple stories of immigrants and immigration, especially in the Old Testament. Today, I want to focus on one story in the Old Testament and to illustrate how immigration issues and Christian faith are intertwined.
In the book of Genesis (chapters 37-50), Joseph is sold by his own brothers and forced to leave the land against his will. Soon after, he became a slave and was mistreated by his master’s wife. Eventually, he was put into prison. Throughout the period, Joseph felt miserable because he was cast off by his own family and then wrongly accused of molesting his master’s wife. Nevertheless, Joseph remained faithful. Eventually, Joseph’s inner strength led him to be set free from the prison and later to become a governor of Egypt, one of the most powerful positions in the nation. This immigrant, Joseph, later saves thousands of people including his own brothers from famine and saves the nation through his leadership.
The story of Joseph actually reminds me of a young undocumented immigrant, Harold Fernandez, who came to the United States when he was young and later became a cardiac surgeon, saving hundreds of people in the United States. If Harold was undocumented today, he wouldn’t be able to study or practice his profession in the United States and save hundreds of people who were directly affected by heart diseases. Similar to Harold, there are thousands of young undocumented students who aspire to be a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, or a scholar to serve our community; but they can only do this fully if they are given a fair chance. Instead, undocumented students are still marginalized and oppressed by society.
Through this contemporary issue, Christians could reflect upon the story of Joseph and seriously consider helping immigrants and marginalized people because our basic principle is to help others. Once we look at the bigger picture, our faith will eventually grow to an understanding of why faith and social justice cannot be separated.