Overlooked | How Immigrants are Saving Our Cities from the Inside Out
By Jarrett Meek
April 7, 2020
Are immigrants a blessing or a burden? That’s one of the more contentious questions being tossed around our current cultural moment. As Christ-followers, we’ve been shown how to recognize the value in people others have rejected. Jesus saw something special in Levi while he was still sitting at his tax booth—it wasn’t long before Levi’s friends were sharing a meal in his home with Jesus. When he spoke with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, Jesus saw into her heart and beyond; his vision included fields ripe for the harvest. It wasn’t long before this unlikely woman would lead an entire town to Jesus. Our Lord has a habit of making heroes out of marginalized people.
Viewing immigrants through this lens has led us to tell a different kind of story about our neighbors from other countries. Even beyond seeing these newcomers as people in need of compassion, it became clear to us that our friends from all places were bringing something of incredible value to our inner city neighborhood: revitalization. Over the last fifteen years of doing ministry in this community, I have seen this neighborhood transformation with my own eyes. The people I came to serve are serving and changing lives. They are becoming leaders in churches. They are starting businesses and fixing up homes. Our neighborhood is safer and more vibrant because they are here.
When you’re up close, the human stories are powerful and plentiful, and the community impact is notable. Even so, I was surprised when the story revealed by the data from my research matched so consistently with what we are seeing in real life; immigrants are saving our city from the inside out. “Overlooked” is our attempt at telling this story in a way that will challenge others to see immigrants from a new perspective—not as a burden, but as a blessing.
Jarrett Meek serves as the Executive Director and Pastor of Mission Adelante, a multicultural ministry community in Kansas City, Kansas. He earned his M.Div. from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.