On Immigration, the Pandemic and Where Hope Resides

Leadership Foundations

Leadership Foundations

For many of our local Leadership Foundations, immigration is not simply an abstract issue.  

It is a shared story and first-hand experience etched into the lives and faces of real human beings – women, children, men – those who make the uncertain and often dangerous journey to a new land.  

Cities are Magnets…

They draw diverse peoples in search of safety, opportunity, and more. And yet, with COVID-19, many immigrant and refugee communities have found themselves increasingly isolated, overlooked, and often attacked.

In our most recent City as Playground podcast, Sam Rajshekhar of the YuvaLok Leadership Foundation describes how so many immigrants have experienced deep deprivation during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangalore, India. He depicts a particular group of migrants—the Domari people—who have been marginalized for centuries in India and are now facing unprecedented levels of poverty and privation–creating a kind of hellish purgatory. 

Tragically, this story is not an uncommon one—but what I am struck most by in Sam’s description is how the heartbreak that he describes in gut-wrenching detail seems to clearly be a reflection of God’s own heartbreak. 

We Are All Sojourners

Throughout scripture, God reminds the Israelite people to care for the stranger, the sojourner, in an especially attentive way. Why? Because…

wait for it…

they too were once sojourners.

And Jesus doubles down on this message by becoming an immigrant himself–fleeing to Egypt as a tiny baby. And then he calls his followers to become immigrants as well – to leave everything to follow him.


Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.   

Luke 14: 25-27 (NRSV )

Real Hope – Where God’s Heart Resides

This is the source of our sustaining hope at Leadership Foundations in cities throughout the world – that God who incarnated God’s self in the person of Jesus, who became an immigrant and asks us to do the same, is ever present, ever personal, and always possible for those hardest pressed.    

As a supporter of Leadership Foundations, I invite you to continue to hold immigrant peoples throughout the world in your prayers. And know that your support continues to meet the tangible needs of such people.  

In Bangalore, the YuvaLok Leadership Foundation has created a broad coalition of faith-based and secular organizations to meet immigrant needs. And Leadership Foundations, with our unique charism of finding common ground for the common good, is uniquely positioned to meet such needs.  

Please, join us in this work. 

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Celia Vigil

Communications Associate

What book, movie, quote, or tv show has most shaped your understanding of leadership or the city?   

A quote that has shaped my understanding of leadership and the city is, “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

While the amount of work there is to do to transform cities is great, this quote reminds me that we are freed from having to complete it all, though our obligation to continue remains. We may never see a huge transformation in our lifetime. The work stretches far beyond us. However, this does not make our acts of faithfulness in the day to day less significant, no matter how small they may seem.