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Unexpected Mission Field

By Devin Tressler

If you ask Liang where he’s from, he’ll tell you simply, “Burma.” But if you talk to him much longer about his home, you find out that it’s complicated: He’s of the Zomi people from Chin State, in the country most of the world calls “Myanmar”. Where you’re from and what you call yourself is important there. Many of the Zomi people are Christian. In fact it was their faith that led the government of the mostly-Buddhist country (controlled by a different ethnic group) to expel them from the country.

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Trump Admits Only 23 Christian Refugees From Mideast In 2018

August 13, 2018 

In a now embarrassing January 2017 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Donald Trump was asked, “The refugee changes you’re looking to make, as it relates to persecuted Christians, do you see them as kind of a priority here?” Trump answered, “Yes. They’ve been horribly treated . . . We are going to help them.” However, a new letter from the Evangelical Immigration Table notes that in the first half of 2018, the Trump administration admitted only 23 Middle Eastern Christian refugees. 

Read more from Forbes>>

Adopted and Undocumented

August 12, 2018

Mauricio Oviedo Soto was 6 years old when a judge in a Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, circuit court officially recognized his adoption. With the stroke of a pen, he became Mauricio Cappelli, taking the surname of his new American father.

Nearly 32 years later, on March 12, 2018, Cappelli stepped off a commercial flight at Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José, Costa Rica, in the country of his birth. He was still processing the last 24 hours: Early that morning, officers entered his holding cell in a South Texas immigration detention center and told him he would be deported that day to his native country for the second time in his life.

Read more from The Intercept>>

Evangelical Leaders Urge White House To Raise Refugee Admissions For 2019

August 9, 2018

Seven evangelical Christian organizations have jointly criticized the Trump administration for allowing refugee resettlement to hit a historic low at a time when the global refugee crisis is intensifying. 

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and religious freedom ambassador Sam Brownback, the leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table told the administration its drastric cuts to refugee admissions could be undermining its pledge to protect religious freedom worldwide. 

Read more from Huffington Post>>

Making Sense of Missouri

August 9, 2018 

Making Sense of Missouri: “Democrats may have scored their most definitive win of Donald Trump’s presidency on Tuesday, as unions routed Republicans in a Missouri ballot measure battle that showed shocking strength from organized labor,” Politico’s Ian Kullgren reports.

“Unions crushed the state’s so-called right-to-work law, overwhelming conservative opponents by a 2-to-1 margin after running a deep-pocketed campaign,” Kullgren writes. “The outcome signals that unions still have paths to victory in red-leaning states — and provides a new playbook for fighting the policies of Republican-controlled state governments.”

Read more from Politico>>

Evangelical Leaders Ask Trump to Raise Refugee Ceiling for 2019, Cite Religious Freedom

August 8, 2018 

Seven evangelical leaders have directly voiced concern about the Trump administration’s drastic slowing of refugee resettlement to the United States, citing the administration’s own call to protect religious freedom worldwide.

Leading Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore and prominent Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez joined their colleagues from the Evangelical Immigration Table on Tuesday in sending a letter to three top federal agency officials expressing “deep concern about the impact on international religious freedom of recent changes in the U.S. refugee resettlement program.”

Read more from The Christian Post>>

A Kind of Homelessness: Evangelicals of Color in the Trump Era

August 7, 2018 

Before the 2016 election, Nikki Toyama-Szeto had thought of the term “evangelical” as neutral. “It was about theology,” she told me recently. She had a long history working with evangelical organizations like International Justice Mission and Intervarsity, and as the executive director of Evangelicals for Social Action, she was a well-known speaker and activist in evangelical circles. Her faith had been central to affirming her own racial and gender identities.

Read more from Religion & Politics>>

How Can We Enhance Our Moral Attention Span?

August 3, 2018 

I have been making preparations with a neuroscientist for a forum on depression in the context of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In the course of our preparations, we discussed the need to help care-givers understand that these matters are extremely complex. We all need to increase our attention span on the subject. As a result, statements like “Will yourself to stop being depressed” is not sufficient for addressing psychological and mental health concerns.

Read more from Patheos>>

Trump Considering Reducing US Refugee Cap By Over 40 Percent; Christian Groups React

August 2, 2018

Christian groups are speaking out after a report this week indicates that President Donald Trump is mulling a 40 percent cut to the already historically low limit on refugees being resettled to the United States. 

The New York Times reported Wednesday that the White House is considering reducing the refugee resettlement cap for the next fiscal year, although the 45,000-refugee cap set by the president for fiscal year 2018 is already the lowest limit set by a president since the passing of the Refugee Act of 1980.

Read more from The Christian Post>>

Citing Religious Liberty, Evangelical Leaders Urge Trump Administration to Support Refugee Resettlement

August 8, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Evangelical Christian leaders have sent a letter asking the Trump administration to raise the refugee ceiling, citing religious liberty and our nation’s history of offering safe haven to people fleeing religious persecution.

Signatories express deep concern that further cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement program would harm religious freedom internationally. The letter was sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.

“We ask you each to do all that is within your authority to ensure that the various departments of the U.S. government cooperate to resume refugee resettlement at a level consistent with historical norms, including recommending to the president a refugee ceiling of at least 75,000 for fiscal year 2019 and allocating necessary resources to ensure that refugees are being processed and vetted as efficiently as possible overseas,” the letter reads in part.

The following are quotes from national evangelical leaders who have signed on to the letter:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Those who are persecuted and displaced because of their faith need our support. For many, it is a matter of life and death. We urge our leaders to resettle at least 75,000 refugees in the coming year.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“Compassion and security are not mutually exclusive. The United States has for many years been a beacon of hope to persecuted people around the world. We have also been an example to many other nations who have followed our lead to welcome those persecuted for their faith. We have nearly abandoned this place of moral leadership — admittance of persecuted Christians from particular countries is down 98 percent, for example. We urge our leaders to return to our national heritage of welcome to persecuted people of all faiths (or no faith at all).”

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“The United States has long welcomed people from around the world who are fleeing dangerous situations, including religious persecution. Our faith calls us to care for those who are most vulnerable. The Church stands ready to assist refugees; there are good and ready solutions to urgent problems. We urge this administration to support these solutions.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Korean Churches for Community Development/Faith and Community Empowerment:
“Our country was founded by those seeking religious freedom. We urge Secretary Pompeo and other leaders to continue to honor our country’s legacy and leadership. The recent stark decline in the number of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities allowed into the U.S. refugee resettlement program is appalling. We urge the administration’s leadership and commitment to those seeking protection and freedom and to reset the settlement numbers to past historic numbers.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador, General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church:
“As a participant in the recent ministerial conference on religious freedom, I was encouraged concerning the commitment of this administration to the suffering people. We in the faith community stand ready to welcome the persecuted and are ready for increased numbers.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“I’m grateful for efforts to support religious freedom throughout the world. Until other countries are free of religious persecution, though, it is vital that the U.S. continue to welcome refugees who have been persecuted on account of their faith. As a nation, we must not turn our backs on the persecuted church.”

Travis Wussow, Vice President for Public Policy and General Counsel, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“One key measure of our country’s commitment to religious freedom abroad is how we treat the refugee fleeing persecution. Unfortunately, while attention to religious freedom is growing, the number of refugees admitted to the United States – including the admission of persecuted Christians – is shrinking. Our commitment is wide in speech, but is it deep enough in action to welcome refugees upon our shores? We are expected to do both.”

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