By Rayssa Mesquita Dunkerly
Athens Intercessor
March 2024

In our church, New Covenant, we have a prayer and worship meeting on the first Wednesday of every month. Due to recent events, such as the tragic killing of Laken Riley by an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela (1), we have been seeing an increase in debates regarding immigration, specially about illegal immigrants. I’m an immigrant. I came here, from Brazil, with my two kids, to study at UGA. Here I met my husband and my step-kids, and since we met we have been living the fulfillment of God’s promises for our lives, our kids, our callings and everything else.

However, as an immigrant, I have been given the opportunity to experience other aspects of this debate – and even further, if not for the recent US Immigration Act of 2021 I too would now be an illegal immigrant, since my visa expired, and I have been waiting for more than one year for my green card. I have seen my life be put on hold, having a doctorate degree and not being able to work on my field, not being able to go back and visit my family in Brazil, not even being able to renew my driver’s license…while the immigration department simply loses my documents and delays my process without any plausible reason. I have spent a huge amount of money and time into this green card process, and there is nothing left to do besides waiting – waiting for the immigration department to move, waiting for God’s perfect timing, just waiting!

Pastor David thought it would be interesting if, as an immigrant, I could pray about immigration issues on that prayer and worship service. I gladly accepted the challenge, but, given my disheartening experience with the immigration department, I didn’t want my personal view of the problem to interfere with the prayer. So, I started praying that God would give me His perspective of it, and what did the Bible say about it. I also researched materials that were already available, such as the prayer guide of the Intercessors for America (2).

While I understand that there are many ways to pray for all topics, including this one, what I’m sharing here is what I have learned from this experience, and how I was led to pray about it.

1.  The basic premise I started with is that God has purchased to Himself persons of every tribe, language, people and nations, and He has made them to be a kingdom and priest to serve our God. (Revelation 5:9-10). That is, God makes no distinction of nationality, He actually sees beyond them – He has not purchased us by His powerful blood to be of a certain nationality, but to be a kingdom, to be part of His kingdom. So, the first thing I needed to pray was to have that kingdom mentality, in which there are no nationalities, no differences, no segregation and separation – there is only the kingdom of God. Second, is that He has purchased all persons from all tribes and languages and nations, that is, He wants all of us, from all countries and places.

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”  Revelation 5:9-10 (ESV)

2.  With that kingdom mentality, we then can understand that our Homeland is not here. We are called for a better homeland; we are waiting for our true homeland to come. The Bible teaches us that we are foreigners and exiles (1 Peter 2:11), and that our forefathers were also foreigners (Psalm 39:12), In fact, the Bible is full of stories of men and women of God who lived as exiles, foreigners and refugees, from the Jews being freed from slavery in Egypt, to Ruth and even Jesus (in today’s definition of political refugee, the persecution of Herodes would make Jesus’ family to be considered refugees). Furthermore, the “Heroes of the Faith” (Hebrews 11) talks about all those mighty men and women of God, who understood they were foreigners and strangers on Earth (Hebrews 11:13), that there were waiting for our true Homeland: the kingdom of Heaven to come! Understanding that we too, are foreigners in this Earth, even if we have never left the country, makes us understand the heart of the people that have actually done this journey. In that sense, we are all foreigners, we are all the same.

“Hear my prayer, LORD, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping. I dwell with you as a foreigner, a stranger, as all my ancestors were.” Psalm 39:12 (NIV)

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11 (NIV)

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” Hebrews 11:13 (NIV)

3.  The whole Earth and the fullness there of belong to God – all countries, all borders, all nationalities. Everything!

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” Psalm 24:1 (NIV)

4.  I was also led to repent. Repent for how we have been treating God’s sons and daughters that come from another country, not showing the hospitality the Bible commends us to do. Repent for all the hatred that nationals have thrown towards immigrants. And, as an immigrant, repent for all the hatred we have thrown upon nationals too.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13 (NIV)

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9 (NIV)

5.   Jesus cares about immigrants – so much so that there are 92 mentions in the Old Testament about how to treat foreigners well. Here are some examples: Jeremiah 7:6-11, Ezekiel 47:21-23, Zechariah 7:8-10, Leviticus 19:34, Exodus 23:9. And this continues in the New Testament also, when Jesus says how we love them reflects directly on how we love Christ Himself (Matthew 25:35).

“‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)

6.  Then, I was led to pray specifically for three groups of immigrants:

• Immigrants that come to America looking for hope and a better future, looking for the “American Dream” – that they can find the fulfillment, plenitude, and completeness that only Jesus can offer.

• Immigrants, like me, that are here under a word of God, being obedient to His calling and that were called to be here, in this country, at this time, for His purpose – that they can be strengthened and continue to wait in God’s perfect time and plan.

• Immigrants that do come here with ill intentions – such as the Venezeluan aforementioned – that they can have a deep, life changing, mighty and unforgettable encounter with Jesus!

7.  Pray with me.

• God desires all to be saved! Please pray for all immigrants to hear the gospel, for the veil to be torn so that they can understand it and a grace to surrender their lives to Jesus.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

• God causes good to come from bad or evil situations. Pray that what the enemy meant for evil God would turn it into good, for these immigrants and for our nation!

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (HCSB)

“You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” Genesis 50:20 (HCSB)

• God is concerned for the children. Pray that those who are using this opportunity at the border to traffic children would be exposed and stopped. Pray that these children would be rescued and re-united with their families or adopted into good families!

“Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14 (ESV)

• God is concerned for the immigrants. Pray for those who are legally trying to take up residency in our nation. Pray that whatever red tape is hindering them would be streamlined and applications accepted quickly. Pray that those who don’t belong here, who have come with ill intentional would be quickly exposed and removed.

Please use this prayer guide as a launch pad for the Holy Spirit to lead your prayer for

References…

1/         https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2024/02/28/former-uga-student-death-2024-immigration-debate/72772141007/

2/         https://ifapray.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/IMMIGRATION-Building-a-Biblical-Worldview.pdf

For more prayer guides regarding immigration, please check https://ifapray.org/ and search “immigration”. They have provided several others with slightly different focuses.