For Immediate Release CONTACT: 202-347-0040
January 14, 2013
Evangelical Leaders Launch “I was a Stranger,” Immigration Prayer Challenge and Video
National Leaders, Local Pastors Ask Lawmakers to Consider Immigration through Biblical Lens
**Listen to a recording from today’s press call at http://tinyurl.com/iwasastranger.**
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As we prepare for a national debate on immigration policy, the Evangelical Immigration Table launched an effort on Monday to encourage Christians to think about immigration from a distinctly biblical perspective. The diverse coalition of influential evangelicals will reach out to political leaders and more than 100,000 churches for their “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge.
Leaders announced the launch of a promotional video featuring high-profile evangelical leaders reading from the 25th chapter of Matthew, from which the challenge gets its name. This coordinated effort of churches and Christian ministries summons legislators to allow biblical teachings to inform their views on immigration. The challenge invites individual evangelical Christians, church congregations, and legislators to read 40 verses of Scripture that relate to immigration and to pray that these passages will evoke the political will to create a just immigration system that better reflects Christian values.
The statements below can be attributed to the following evangelical leaders:
Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief:
“For years, many people have asked whether evangelicals care about immigration. The “I Was A Stranger” Challenge mobilizes thousands of Christians to take action on immigration reform. Evangelicals are serious about Scripture and its command to take special care of immigrants living among us. As people all across our country put immigrants first, we believe our elected officials will understand reform is urgent, moral, and biblical, and that they must tackle it early this year.”
Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent, The Wesleyan Church:
“The church was birthed in diversity 2,000 years ago and for 2,000 years God’s people have been speaking and acting on behalf of the vulnerable. God’s call compels us to action today on behalf of immigrants in our congregations and communities.”
Taylor Bell, Student, Samford University (Alabama):
“This prayer challenge brings us evangelicals back to the scripture, reminding us that we are called as members of the community of God to welcome the stranger among us. I know from my own experience as a student in Alabama that we have a long way to go as evangelicals on the issue of immigration, and this prayer challenge will provide the biblical foundation we need to get there.”
Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association:
“Today, we are launching a campaign to explore the teaching of God’s Word regarding our call to love the stranger in our land. Join thousands of Christians over the next 40 days to discover God’s heart for our immigrant brothers and sisters.”
Dave Gibbons, Pastor and Founder of Newsong Church and XEALOTS.org (California):
“Loving God and Loving Neighbors is the same as Loving Immigrants. They are all symbiotically related.”
Dr. Bill Hamel, President, Evangelical Free Church of America:
“As an evangelical, I am committed to not missing this moment in history where we can lead a movement for Biblical justice and compassion. Evangelicals sat on the sidelines in the civil rights discussions but we must not this time!”
Dr. Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland Church (Florida):
“As a pastor, I want my congregation to have a Biblical framework for addressing challenges, not a primarily political one. The most powerful motivation for us to find a good way to include people who are marginalized is to read scripture and try to follow its guidance.”
For more information about the challenge, please visit: http://evangelicalimmigrationtable.com/iwasastranger/
Follow the conversation on Twitter at #IWasAStranger or text Immigration to 877877 to connect to the Evangelical Immigration Table and sign up for the I Was a Stranger challenge.