Immigration may be overwhelming yet we can make a difference

Some days I am just overwhelmed by the enormity of all the various crises in this world. So much needs doing, and I have no idea what I can do to stop, fix, or change any of it. The other night when I could not sleep, I sat down and listed 16 causes that get my heart pounding and my head spinning with concern for the world as I know it. At times I get lost in the chaos of it all, and do nothing. Perhaps you feel this way too, sometimes. 

Immigration is one such crisis for me. There is so much need, so many perspectives, and so many legal and personal components. It doesn’t all fit on a bumper sticker. Each day there seems to be a new threat and a different ‘reasonable’ argument. What can I do to make a difference or help? Where do I start?

So I have been paying attention as I go through my day for ways to handle all of this as I read, check in with others for suggestions, and pray. What I am coming down to is something I know already and a new way to do it. I know to choose one crisis, winnow it down to a smaller part, like: DACA, Detention Centers, Migrant Labor, Refugees, National Security or providing basic necessities of life,etc. Learn about that one part. Notice things in that part that might need to be done and then work on them as I am able in my own way, in my own space, and with what I have at hand. Another thing is to stay with my focus, to try not to be distracted by the media immigration crises of the day.

A few weeks ago I learned a way to handle being overwhelmed as I lead our Morning Prayer at St. Raphael’s, and read from Sermons that Work. The sermon is based on the feeding the 5,000 from The Gospel of John. The sermon was written by Rev. Jason Cox, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, San Francisco and entitled: “Take, Bless, Break, Give.”What follows is what I learned from that sermon.

Feeding the 5,000 was overwhelming and impossible – the resources were minimal: 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Rev. Cox tells us that this is a parable of “what we are called to do and who we are called to be.” Jesus tells the disciples to give the people something to eat; he doesn’t jump in and make it happen. The lesson for the disciples was how they responded, and for us is how we respond – how we see the world determines what we do with what we already have.

Rev. Cox points out that God has created us and given us the whole world; all that we have comes from God and returns to God. What do we do with it?  Rev. Cox reminds us God has given us all we need, if we look at it right and if we share. The Bible constantly tells us Be Not Afraid, and yet we usually are afraid and come from a place of fear and scarcity.  We have enough bread to feed the world, if we decide to let go of what is “ours”, to believe we are enough to make a difference, to do God’s work. We are not insignificant; we are not as helpless as we fear. 

The process Jesus followed and we are to follow as well, according to the sermon, is to Take, Bless, Break and Give. Take what God has given us, our God given gifts. This could be a skill, a loving heart, an ability to speak or write letters, to read and understand information, or another resource. Take what we have and Bless it, offer it to God, give thanks, and invite God to be central to our intention. Then Break, break ourselves, take something of ourselves and Give it in service to others. Break the fear and believe in doing this we can make a difference, with DACA, Detention Centers, Migrant Labor, Refugees, National Security or providing basic necessities of life. Break ourselves when we risk feeling uncomfortable, hurt, rejected, and not seem to succeed; risk changing ourselves; trusting in the Lord to use our offering as is best. We may not see the success, or the impact we have, and we need to let go of that ‘need’ as well.  Give freely and openly to make a difference in the Immigration crisis. 

So might I suggest you choose to be involved in the Immigration crisis, focus on a section that interest you, learn about it, and then Take, Bless, Break, and Give. It will make a difference.
Ms. Nancy Fitzgerald is a parishioner at St Raphael's Episcopal Church in Oakhurst, CA, and is a member of SJRAISE.
Donations needed for International Rescue Committee

For those who have not heard, President Biden increased the historically low Trump-era refugee admissions cap for this fiscal year from 15,000 to 62,500. More information about this announcement, as well as the IRC’s response, can be found at the following link:
We are thrilled to hear of the administration’s decision and are grateful for the ways in which it will impact tens of thousands of survivors of conflict and persecution. While we have yet to learn how many refugees and special immigrants we will see here locally in the next few months, we are anticipating a substantial increase in the number of people we serve. This is fantastic news! It also means that now more than ever we will need support from friends like you to help lead individuals and families from harm to home.
How you can help
As we prepare to serve a larger number of refugees, asylees and other special immigrants in the Central Valley, there are many ways that you can provide support:
  • Donate Household Items: As new families and individuals arrive, they will need household furnishings such as furniture (particularly couches and dining sets that are in good condition), new bath and bedding items, and kitchen supplies. A list of our general donations needs is attached. Feel free to respond to this email or contact us by phone at 209-272-0751 if you wish to donate any of these items.
  • Provide Gift Cards: We have a huge need right now for gift cards from Target or Walmart. These donations are incredibly empowering because they give people the power to choose what clothing and household items they want to buy, a luxury that was not available to them while living in refugee camps. Gift cards from Target or Walmart can be sent to the following address:

International Rescue Committee
3446 N. Golden State Blvd., Ste. A
Turlock, CA 95382
Attn: Jonathan Partridge
You can also purchase Visa gift cards through Amazon:
  • Volunteer: As more people arrive, we will need volunteers to help with virtual English language classes, job placement, and donation transportation. We will also likely need help transporting individuals and families to appointments once it becomes safe to do so. In addition, we will be looking for small groups who are interested in furnishing homes. More information on volunteer and internship opportunities can be found at the following link:

  • For donations that will specifically benefit the IRC in Turlock/Modesto, please contact us directly at [email protected].

Photojournalist and friend of SJRAISE, Sean Hawkey, is currently working on a documentary series on migration and climate change in Guatemala.

You can read about his recent work on his blog here.

On November 20 at 10am via ZOOM, SJRAISE, in conjunction with the Anti-Racism Commission and the Creation Care Commission, will screen the documentary series and discuss the intersections between migration, climate change and navigating an inherently racist immigration system. More information will be forthcoming. In the meantime, take a look at some of the photos recently sent by Sean ("Migration from Mexico: Going North") and pray for those seeking a better life.
COVID-19 Resources for Immigrants
(in Spanish)

Guía para Inmigrantes de California + Listos California Esta guía proporciona consejos sobre los servicios, incluyendo los beneficios públicos, que están disponibles para los inmigrantes californianos, incluidos algunos que están disponibles independientemente de su estatus migratorio. Visite para obtener más información. 

Calls to Action, Training and Resources

Give DACA Students a Pathway to Citizenship
On July 16, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a ruling stating that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was unlawful. The program, which the Obama administration created through executive action in 2012, provided certain undocumented individuals who arrived to the country as children with a renewable temporary status that protected them from deportation and allowed them to work in the United States. Although litigation contesting the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the program in September 2017 successfully kept the program alive, a May 2018 lawsuit filed by several attorneys general challenging the program’s legality resulted in the recent decision.

To learn more and contact your Senator, click here
Wrapped in Love

If you are a quilter and would like to contribute to the Wrapped in Love project, or if you would like to provide financial assistance for mailing and supplies, please contact Pastor Julie at: [email protected].

To view the video of the blessing of the blankets and hear from Pastor Julie and quilter, Jean Wright, click here

Episcopal Church Statement on Afgan Evacuation

The Episcopal Church calls on the Biden administration and Congress to develop comprehensive plans to evacuate and provide green cards for our Afghan allies who have supported the U.S. armed forces after U.S. armed forces leave Afghanistan on September 11, 2021. Many of the individuals who have worked for the U.S. armed forces as interpreters, drivers, and other support roles face dire situations once the United States completes the pullout for the region, including potential violent reprisals targeting them and their family members.

The entire statement can be found here
Check out Episcopal Migration Ministries new podcast:
Repairing the Breach: Building the Beloved Community Through Welcome
You can listen here!

The Immigration Services Directory, which provides a list of nonprofit community organizations that offer a broad range of immigration-related services in the Central Valley can be found here

Prayers of the People for use in Ordinary Time
SJRAISE Petitions for Prayers of the People:
Pentecost 2021

10th Sunday after Pentecost (Aug. 1) thru 16th Sunday after Pentecost (Sept. 12)
Lord God, give us hearts and wills to embrace the alien and the stranger in our midst. May our personal and communal lives reflect the welcome you have all people.
17th Sunday after Pentecost (Sept. 19) thru 23rd Sunday after Pentecost (Oct. 31)
Lord God, hear the cry for justice in the lives of immigrants and refugees. Unstop our ears that we may listen to their needs, and soften our hearts to be to them palpable signs of your compassion and righteousness.
All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1)
Lord God, grant the world to know that in you there are no longer strangers nor aliens. In the power of your Sprit reveal all your people as members of your household, and may our lives show forth the welcome and inclusion which is your will.
25th Sunday after Pentecost (Nov. 14)
Lord God, may your kingdom come bringing with it the righteousness that is your promise. Uncover the deceptions that keep our sisters and brothers estranged and in fear. Be with those awaiting trials and all who are detained. Through our efforts for them may they know your comfort.
Last Sunday after Pentecost: Christ the King (Nov. 21)
Lord God, shed abroad among nations and leaders the abiding truth and love you have revealed in Jesus. Make known the sovereign justice that transcends borders and governments, and protect in your gentleness the victims of injustice and the casualties of our own complacency. 

written by Rev. Luis Rodriguez, St Paul's Bakersfield

Prayer in a time of pandemic​
Loving God, throughout the Scriptures you call us to “Fear not!”, but these are troubling times for the hardiest souls. Give us courage to face the challenges of this new threat to your human family. Give us prudence, to do the necessary things to protect ourselves and others. Give us the clarity of vision to learn from this disease the lesson we are too prone to forget, that we are all connected, regardless of race or nationality or political persuasion. We pray for those who are struggling with this disease, that their health may be restored. We pray for medical personnel and first responders caring for those in need, that they remain healthy and unflagging in their life-saving work. And we pray for all those economically impacted, that they may find the resources to maintain themselves and their families.  We ask all this, trusting in your abiding love, a love that even death cannot defeat. Amen.

Written by Deacon Tom Hampson, St John's Lodi

Special Prayers for Immigrants During COVID-19

Oh Lord; in this time of Covid-19 as we take shelter in our homes, we ask you to spread your love and healing over our brothers and sisters held in overcrowded detention centers and refugee camps. 
We ask Lord that you may soften the hearts of those in authority, that them may care for our sisters and brothers in this time of crises.

We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen

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Undocumented Migration Project

International Rescue Committee

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) has developed a toolkit for supporting immigrants currently in detention.

Council on American-Islamic Relations