For Immediate Release CONTACT: 202-347-0040
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., JANUARY 14, 2013 — 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.
For Immediate Release CONTACT: 202-347-0058
Evangelical Leaders Call for Immigration Reform in First 92 Days
WASHINGTON, D.C., NOVEMBER 13, 2012 — Leaders from across the evangelical community came together today to release open letters to President Obama and to the House and Senate leadership, seeking action on immigration policy. On a press call this morning, leaders discussed the implications of the 2012 election and their plans for harnessing the growing consensus in the evangelical community around reform.
The letters highlight why evangelical leaders are concerned about the current immigration system, lay out moral principles for reform and explain why leaders have called for reform in the first 92 days of President Obama’s second term. The letters state:
We are driven by a moral obligation rooted deeply in our faith to address the needs of immigrants in our country. Compassionate and just treatment of immigrants is a frequent topic in scripture. The Hebrew word for immigrant, “ger,” occurs 92 times throughout the Bible.
The letters call for balanced immigration reform that respects the God-given dignity of every person, guarantees secure national borders, protects the unity of the immediate family, ensures fairness to taxpayers and respects the rule of law, but also establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.
The Evangelical Immigration Table, which launched in June 2012, represents diverse evangelical leaders from across the political spectrum, including The National Association of Evangelicals, Sojourners, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. A full list of partner organizations is available at www.evangelicalimmigrationtable.com, along with a list of more than 150 prominent evangelical leaders who have endorsed the Table’s principles for reform.
The group discussed their legislative and campaign priorities. The letters read, “We stand ready to support legislation that reflects Christian values and builds the common good.”
Full quotes from the members on the call can be read below:
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC): “This election season split our country, but today we come together in an unprecedented show of unity within the evangelical community: black, white, Hispanic and Asian. Our country needs a just immigration system, and Congress and President Obama must act this coming year.”
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals (NAE): “Immigration is not just a Hispanic issue. Immigration is not just an Asian issue, European or African issue. It is a Christian issue. It is a moral issue. And how our country chooses to handle our immigrants reflects the character of our entire nation. As a Christian, my faith calls me to be concerned for all my neighbors, whether or not they look like me, talk like me or even believe like me. My mother was an immigrant — we are a country of immigrants, and many of us are just a few generations separated from our families arriving on this nation’s shores. Immigration is an issue close to my heart because it is close to the heart of God. It is of concern to me because it is of concern to my neighbors.”
Dr. Danny Carroll Rodas, Immigration Spokesperson, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and professor at Denver Seminary: “There is a movement spreading and a new consensus on immigration is growing. The Evangelical Immigration Table has organizers across the country with CCDA, World Relief, NaLEC, Esperanza, and NHCLC working in states such as Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Texas who are all building out an infrastructure of advocates who are passionate about immigration reform. This work is built on the premise of relationships that cross ethnic lines and denominational differences. When people get to know their neighbors, they come to know the concerns and the struggles their neighbors face. As Christians, we are called to bear one another’s burdens. And that is what is happening.”
Dr. Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention: “The Evangelical Immigration Table is politically diverse. Not everyone on this call voted the same way on Election Day. But, we share some core convictions about the values our nation should reflect. We are united in the belief that all people are created in the image of God and worthy of respect and dignity, regardless of country of origin. We are fighting for the right of families to stay together, for business owners to have the ability to hire the workers they need and have a system that ensures fairness to taxpayers. We don’t need to choose between American security and treating immigrants who are already here with respect and dignity.”
Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners: “During the election we heard the media talk a lot about “evangelicals,” and what they were normally referring to was a political term. But when we use the word “evangelical” we are using it as a theological term. We are all united by shared belief the Christ has come, Christ has risen and Christ will come again — and that is good news for us all and the world. We stand ready and willing to work with both Republicans and Democrats who are committed to fair and just immigration reform. The country is hungry for its political leaders to tackle this challenge. They want to see a bipartisan win that shows we can work together as a country and move mountains.”