“The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”
—Psalm 9: 7-9
The words of Psalms are often inspirational. This is a passage that inspires the work of Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), a ministry of the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. This Psalm reminds us that justice is a characteristic of the way God treats God’s people. Righteousness is another characteristic of God’s judgment. At Justice for Our Neighbors we take up these descriptions of the nature of God and apply them to help immigrants and refugees to keep their lives, and the lives of their families, safe and stable. At its best, our government’s immigration system can afford justice to immigrants and refugees, but it is much more attainable when there is a well-trained and experienced immigration attorney present as an advocate. Justice for Our Neighbors provides that advocacy, a work of righteousness as indicated in the Psalm.
The year of 2016 is coming to a close and JFON looks back at a new project that was very fruitful in terms of helping refugees. Looking again to the Psalm, we see that the word refugee comes from refuge.”
The Psalm gives us a definition: a stronghold in troubled times for oppressed people.
Indeed, the persons we see at JFON in our United Methodist Church-based legal clinics are oppressed people who have come to the U.S. looking for a stronghold in times of trouble. As a ministry of the United Methodist Church, the Iowa JFON network of six churches here in Iowa has been a part of this “stronghold.”
The chart shows the results of a new project called “Refugee Green Card Clinics” held at Grace UMC and DMACC in Des Moines on a monthly basis during 2016. The low-income refugees who attended were helped by volunteers trained and supervised by JFON immigration attorneys Ann Naffier, Brynne Howard and Emily Sohn Rebelsky. Beyond this monthly outreach, designed specifically for adjustment of status, all the six church-based legal clinics saw refugees for other refugee needs as well.
We choose justice and righteousness as our means of providing a refuge for the oppressed. Thank you to the many churches and many individuals who help us to ensure that stronghold will be there for refugees coming to Iowa for 2017 by donating through the Iowa Advance at #0375.