I was raised in a brown evangelical church in a small, predominantly white town in central Texas. Our “mother” church was one of the many First Baptist Churches in the Texas Bible Belt. Our congregation was composed mainly of poor, uneducated, largely undocumented migrants from rural Mexico. And while we were a brown church, the Jesus we worshiped was white.
“ICE may think they can just deport Gilles and that will be the end of it, but I have some news for them. This is just the beginning of what God is doing through Gilles and through Greenwood Forest Baptist Church because of his witness.”
Denied humanitarian parole, a longtime member of a North Carolina Baptist church has been deported to the Republic of Congo, his pastor announced Feb. 23. Pastor Lauren Efird of Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary, N.C., said immigration officials woke 58-year-old Gilles Bikindou from his holding cell in Atlanta at 2 a.m. on Friday and told him he was leaving.
When two Baptist ministers launched a legal aid ministry for immigrants in Virginia in the fall of 2016, it was aimed largely at helping Latinos attain and maintain legal residency. But Donald Trump’s election a couple months later, and his high-profile immigration crackdown since taking office, has slowed demand for Greg and Sue Smith’s LUCHA Immigration Legal Services in Fredericksburg, Va.
Members of Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary, N.C., said church member Gilles Bikindou “should be released to his community of faith where he has been a law-abiding resident and productive member of society” since coming to America legally from the Republic of Congo in 2004.
“When ICE trapped Gilles in Charlotte, they trapped Jesus. When Gilles was throw into prison and denied his medical care, Christ himself was imprisoned and denied treatment, ” said North Carolina pastor Lauren Efird.
I’ve never felt so helpless as a pastor as I did on Tuesday, Jan. 9, the day Gilles was unexpectedly detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. I couldn’t do anything to stop the horrifying set of events that was about to happen that was going to change Gilles’ life.
A North Carolina Baptist church claims immigration officials entrapped a long-time church member held for deportation after applying for permission to stay in the United States due to a life-threatening medical condition.