A sign outside a church in a diverse Arkansas city is raising questions from community members for its message on immigration. The Apostolic Faith Church in Springdale, Ark., is upsetting some residents with a marquee that reads, “Heaven has strict immigration laws, hell has open borders.”
“When I first passed the sign, I almost wrecked my car because I couldn’t really believe that that’s what I read,” Alice Gachuzo-Colin told Rogers, Ark., news station KNWA. “When you put that on a sign in city that is so rich in diversity as Springdale, it is essentially a slap in the face to all the undocumented people that help make Springdale the place it is today.”
Springdale, the fourth-largest city in Arkansas, boasts a population of 79,599 people — with 36.5 percent identifying as Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. census.
Apostolic Faith Church confirmed to KNWA that the word “immigration” was taken out of the message — however, the community was still not pleased. “We still know that’s the word that was there. That’s what you mean to say,” Gachuzo-Colin said.
“Some of my best friends are undocumented. These are people that go to school, have a career and are doing a lot of good things in the community,” resident Irvin Camacho told the news outlet. “People are more than welcome to share whatever message they want to share on their church, that’s their right, but just know that the community is going to stand up and be vocal about it. We’re not going to stay silent.”
The church on Monday took to Facebook to write, “Jesus loves the little children, ALL THE CHILDREN OF WORLD! Red, & yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves all HIS children of the world. Everyone is welcome to our church we LOVE people from ALL over the WORLD!!”
When a commenter on the post wrote, “Jesus does, but your message is only if they are white and from the U.S. Maybe you should read the Bible yourself,” a church member responded in kind.
“Sir you are misreading our sign. There are strict rules for Heaven. We must walk in Gods grace and obey his rules in order to enter in,” the church member’s comment read. “However Hell is open for anyone who won’t. Our church LOVES all the people in the world. This was not put up to offend it was put up as a warning.. Jesus is coming soon we must be ready for his coming.. this means repentance, water baptism in Jesus name and being filled with the Holy Ghost Acts 2:38.”
Michael Pennington with the Apostolic Faith Church provided the following statement to Yahoo Lifestyle: “First, let me start by saying that in no way was this sign intended to be a racial or a political statement. The meaning behind our sign is to inform people that regardless of what some may tell them, Heaven is not going to be as easy to make as people think it is… Revelations 21 talks about the walls and gates of Heaven, meaning the only way in is through the gate… the sign was no way political or racially motivated, it was all Biblically motivated.”
He went on to say, “The people who started the controversy didn’t expect us to receive the outpouring of support that we have received, not only from our local city and area, but tremendous support and encouragement from other states as well. … I would say that we are receiving 15 to 20 positives for every one negative.”
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