Much has been written about the discrimination, exploitation, threats, and mistreatment that immigrants suffer. The purpose of it all is to stir up the conscience of host countries about the rights immigrants have to dignified treatment in the country to which they have migrated. As we have written in this blog, “immigrants have a special place in God’s heart,” and we join with any effort that is extended to create such a conscience.
Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fact that the Word of God speaks not only about the rights but also the responsibilities of foreigners. We find two of those responsibilities in Jeremías 29:7, which reads:
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to theLord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (NIV)
The Jewish people were practically slaves in Babylon and in that condition, what they would have least desired was the good of the country that held them captive. But God made them responsible to work for the peace, security, and development of the country they lived in–and not only that, but God also assigned them a second responsibility: to pray for the city, its governors, and its citizens. Why would they have asked God to bless their enemies, their oppressors? Why would they have desired the best for their exploiters?
God gave them the answer: If things went well for the city, they would also go well for them. If the country they were living in prospered, they also would prosper. If Babylon enjoyed peace, they would also live in peace.
Even in the midst of a society that marginalizes them, immigrants ought to make an effort to do their work with diligence and raise up their host country in prayer, since in the long run, it will redound to their own benefit and to that of their families. Fulfilling these two responsibilities, immigrants can cause a great impact that will not go unnoticed in the country that has adopted them.