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Evangelical Leaders Call for Compassion for Refugees

For a recording of the call click here. 

WASHINGTON, D.C., DECEMBER 2, 2015 — National and local evangelical leaders from across the country joined a press call today to voice their support for welcoming refugees and asylum seekers, and highlight the biblical call to welcome the vulnerable.

As Congress considers how to move forward on refugee-related legislation, Evangelical Immigration Table organizations also sent a letter to Congress today, calling for compassion and declaring their churches’ and colleges’ commitment to help refugees resettle and integrate successfully.

“Our faith inspires us to respond with compassion and hospitality to those fleeing violence and persecution,” the letter states. “Jesus himself was a refugee, and he teaches us to do unto others as we would have them do to us. Compassion is not in conflict with national security.

“The U.S. refugee resettlement program has embodied both values and continues to be a valuable humanitarian tool that should be supported. Our nation has rich history as a beacon of freedom and hope. Please help us as we write the next chapter in this history.”

The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:

Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:

“Evangelicals have strongly supported the U.S. refugee resettlement program for decades because it not only reflects the American value of protecting human life and freedom, but also our Christian commitment to caring for the most vulnerable. The United States has the best and most secure refugee resettlement program in the world. Our approach has worked so well because evangelical Christians and others have played a prominent role in welcoming the 3 million freedom-loving refugees who are now valued members of our communities and churches.”

Ali Chambers, Lead Pastor of Mosaic Church, Memphis, Tenn.:

“We come to the issue of immigration with a Christian perspective and with a historical perspective. In the history of humanity, we have all been refugees or immigrants, many of us fleeing persecution. As a pastor I lead my people to approach immigration and the outsider in that way. We always want to be welcoming to those who are less fortunate than we are, who are vulnerable, who are hurting. This is the heart of the gospel message. And we would hope that our country’s response would reflect that as well.”

Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:

“The Middle East is in great turmoil today, but the church is not. Our security resides in a Savior who overcame death itself. Some look at the current Syrian crisis and respond with fear. Fear divides, love unites. Our confidence in God can empower us to look past fear and see in the refugee a fellow human being, created in God’s image, who needs our love and help.”

Tyler Johnson, Lead Pastor of Redemption Church Arizona:

“The responsibility of pastoral leadership is to remind congregants of God. Christians believe God is seen perfectly in the man Jesus Christ. Jesus himself was an international migrant whose family was fleeing violence. Christians are to call one other to greater love and good deeds. The Bible tells us that this call to love extends even into the purpose of government. Government is given by God to create more loving and just societies.”

Chris McElwee, Local Impact Pastor, Wheaton Bible Church, West Chicago, Ill.:

“Immigrants bring things to our community that are so welcome and so needed. We learn so much from our immigrant brothers and sisters: their grit, their determination, their high value of family and community. We as a church have benefited from learning from these people who have come from all over and joined our congregation. It has been a real gift to have the opportunity to learn from them, grow with them, and see their families thrive in our community into the second and third generations.”

Mike Phillips, Senior Pastor, Immanuel Fellowship, Frisco, Colo.:

“We are advocating a compassionate approach to the Syrian refugee crisis. Many evangelicals, specifically here in Colorado, are increasingly bothered by negative rhetoric that is fueling hate and fear. As I’ve looked at the vetting process, I think it’s a very tight, very good process, but I understand that some people are frightened. I’m hearing from evangelicals that they want to be more proactive to help the millions of refugees.”

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:

“Evangelical leaders across the country are standing with refugees as an outward sign of their compassion and faith. The U.S. refugee resettlement program must continue to welcome the most vulnerable refugees from around the world. We urge Congress to not restrict the program in any way and instead work with local faith communities and governments to welcome refugees.”

 

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The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

Evangelical Immigration Table – Syrian Refugee Letter

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December 2, 2015

Dear Members of Congress,

With more than 50 million refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people in the world, we are facing the world’s worst displacement crisis since World War II. The conflict in Syria alone has forced approximately 4 million individuals to flee the country, with millions more displaced internally. The deliberate, brutal targeting of Christians solely because of their faith is especially alarming.

Since the inception of the modern U.S. refugee resettlement program in 1975, 3 million individuals fleeing violence, conflict and persecution have started their lives anew in the United States. Many of these refugees have been welcomed by local church communities that have helped them get back on their feet. Just last year alone, the United States resettled close to 70,000 refugees. In 1980, the United States received more than 200,000 refugees in one year. Resettlement to the United States is not the sole or primary solution to the displacement crisis, but this important tool in humanitarian protection rescues the most vulnerable refugees and embodies the best of our country’s values. It also promotes a positive image of our country abroad and encourages other nations to follow our example.

As Congress considers legislation to reform the program, we ask you to consider the following:

  • Reject damaging changes to the U.S. refugee resettlement system that would cause this life-saving program to grind to a halt. Adding additional layers of bureaucracy to a proven system will not make us any safer, but it will keep us from providing refuge to people whose lives have already been threatened. The U.S. resettlement program is a life-saving tool that rescues some of the most vulnerable refugees around the world. It is also one of the most secure programs the United States has for allowing anyone to enter the country. While tourists, students and business travelers may undergo minimal security screening, it takes on average 18-24 months for a refugee to be vetted through the security process. Biographic and biometric data is collected and checked against multiple U.S. security and intelligence databases. In addition, each refugee has a face-to-face interview with a trained Department of Homeland Security official as well as a thorough medical screening before they are admitted. This process has worked to exclude individuals who could be a potential threat to our national security.
  • Do not exclude any religion or nationality from the U.S. refugee resettlement program. The hallmark of our refugee resettlement program is that it accepts refugees based on vulnerability and ties to the United States. Religion and nationality are factors to consider in evaluating the refugee claim, but the program should not exclude a refugee on one of those grounds alone. Each refugee story is unique and as such should be treated on its own merit.
  • Increase the resettlement of Christian refugees. The persecution of Christians is uniquely severe given their extreme minority status. Christian communities in the Middle East are facing attacks that can only be considered genocidal in intent. The United States must do more to protect them.
  • Do not neglect other vulnerable refugee groups. We are concerned about the plight of religious minorities in the Middle East, including Christians. Resettlement is one tool of protection which can and should be used in cases where refugees cannot return home or locally integrate. The United States should identify and receive a larger number of religious minorities from the Middle East including, but not limited to, Christians. The United States can increase the resettlement of persecuted Christians in addition to other vulnerable religious groups, including Yazidis, Muslims, and others.
  • Address root causes of the conflict so more refugees do not have to flee. Resettlement is a durable solution of last resort in extreme situations and is not an option for most refugees. Refugees often prefer to return home once conditions in their home countries improve or locally integrate in the countries of asylum. Thus, we urge you to dramatically increase assistance to refugees in places where they seek refuge, while also acknowledging that resettlement is a key durable solution for many refugees who are unable to return home or locally integrate in a country of asylum.
  • Work with governors and local communities to welcome refugees. The U.S. refugee resettlement program is a federal responsibility that depends on the cooperation of local and state governments, as well as churches and volunteers. We urge you to work with state and local elected officials to ensure that states continue to fulfill their responsibilities. Many businesses and faith communities welcome refugees and work in close partnership with state and local governments to help refugees become self-sufficient, quickly integrated, contributing members of their communities.

The United States resettles less than half of 1% of the world’s refugees. At a time when turmoil and war are forcing millions of people to flee their homes, the United States should ensure the refugee resettlement program, a vital lifeline, continues to protect the world’s persecuted. As our country does so, many evangelical Christians within local churches and college campuses are eager and willing to volunteer their time and resources to assist in the resettlement and successful integration of refugees.

Our faith inspires us to respond with compassion and hospitality to those fleeing violence and persecution. Jesus himself was a refugee, and he teaches us to do unto others as we would have them do to us. Compassion is not in conflict with national security. The U.S. refugee resettlement program has embodied both values and continues to be a valuable humanitarian tool that should be supported. Our nation has rich history as a beacon of freedom and hope. Please help us as we write the next chapter in this history.

Sincerely,

The Evangelical Immigration Table

25 Wisconsin Evangelical Leaders Sign Letter Calling for a Respectful Immigration Dialogue

Effort Precedes Tuesday’s GOP Debate

MILWAUKEE, NOVEMBER 9, 2015 — In an open letter running online through tomorrow in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 25 Wisconsin pastors and other evangelical leaders call on GOP presidential candidates to address immigrants and immigration respectfully and focus on solutions.

The letter counters harsh rhetoric toward immigrants from some presidential candidates and other political leaders. It follows a similar letter from Colorado evangelical leaders on Oct. 28.

“Scripture repeatedly calls us to extend hospitality and kindness to immigrants,” the letter writers state. “As many local churches throughout our state have sought to do so, we have been blessed by the immigrants within our community, many of whom are now integral parts of our local churches.

“ … We are looking for presidential candidates who offer sensible policies on immigration that will not only secure our borders and meet the needs of our labor markets, but which also address immigrant communities with compassion.”

“We hope that the candidates will heed the urging of many Wisconsin evangelical leaders,” said Liz Dong, Midwest Regional Mobilizer for the Evangelical Immigration Table. “A civil and informed discussion on immigration will help us move forward as a country.”

63 Colorado Evangelical Leaders Sign Letter Calling for a Respectful Immigration Dialogue

Effort Precedes Tonight’s GOP Debate
BOULDER, COLO., OCTOBER 28, 2015 — In an open letter published this morning as a full-page ad in the Boulder Daily Camera, 63 Colorado pastors and other evangelical leaders call on GOP presidential candidates to craft respectful, solutions-based messages on immigration.

In a key state for 2016, the letter counters harsh rhetoric toward immigrants from some presidential candidates and other political leaders.

“The immigrant community and our community are one and the same,” the letter states. “Together, for several years we have diligently worked to create space to dialogue and learn from one another about how the broken immigration system has affected our communities, keeping us divided. And, we have come to this shared conclusion: Immigrants are vital in our communities, and we must treat them with respect and dignity. Our laws must reflect that conclusion.”

“So many of us feel that we need to do something to stand up to the negativity around the immigration debate,” said Michelle Warren, an Evangelical Immigration Table leader in Colorado. “We are desperate for a conversation that welcomes immigrants with compassion.”

Letters Urge Congress, Administration: Welcome Refugees

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 1, 2015 — In letters today, the Evangelical Immigration Table urges Congress and the Obama administration to welcome refugees and significantly increase the number of refugees the country admits in the next fiscal year.

“The United States of America has a proud history of welcoming refugees, and local churches have long been eager partners in the process of integration. As evangelical Christians, our faith compels us to respond with compassion and hospitality, recognizing that each is made in God’s image and is a neighbor whom God commands us to love,” the letters state. “ … We are calling upon our government to do more.”

The full letters are available here.

The following are quotes from Table leaders:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:

“When others are in desperate need, we remember Jesus’ golden rule to treat others as we would want to be treated. Let’s rescue refugees. It’s the Christian thing to do.”

Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief:

“World Relief has worked with local church partners throughout the nation to resettle more than 250,000 refugees since the late 1970s. As the world faces the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, we are ready and eager to do all that we can to welcome and help integrate those fleeing persecution. At this unique moment in history, we challenge our generous nation to do more, and we challenge each local church throughout the country to commit to welcoming a refugee family.”

Noel Castellanos, CEO and President, Christian Community Development Association:

“The current refugee crisis drives home the urgent need for leaders at home and abroad to work together to address the needs surrounding migration. People are leaving their countries of origin to flee poverty, violence and war, making migration a necessity for survival, not a sin. We need to look at the root causes of our current crisis and work together to create sustainable solutions that work for those who are migrating and for those who are receiving them.”

Bishop Jose Garcia, Director of Church Relations, Bread for the World:

“Throughout history the United States has been a ‘city of refuge’ for countless immigrants escaping political persecution and oppression. As a nation ‘under God’ we have the faith and moral imperative to become the hands and heart of God by reaching out and welcoming the stranger.”

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:

“The United States has been blessed with such an abundance of resources that we have the opportunity to bless others. We have the educational and employment opportunities that allow refugees to contribute in meaningful ways to the United States and to fulfill their God-given potential. Increasing the number of refugees is consistent with our biblical mandate to take care of the least of these.”

Dr. Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:

“These millions of refugees, fleeing the most brutal kinds of persecution and oppression, are some of our world’s most vulnerable and defenseless people. Over and over again in Scripture we see that God has an interest in whether or not the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow are treated with compassion and care. By welcoming those whose religious and personal liberties have been trampled on by tyrants, we can embody our conviction that all people are made in the image of God, whether they are without a family, a home, or a country.”

Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference/CONELA:

“Our greatest strength as a people lies in our God-graced ability to save lives. When the world cries out for help, we respond. Accordingly, this current refugee crisis requires our nation, this proverbial ‘city on a hill,’ to shine the light of compassion once again. Let us open our hearts and homes to the suffering and those fleeing destruction. Let us ‘be light’ once again.”

Rev. Jim Wallis, Founder and President, Sojourners:

“When people are in such great trouble and fear that they leave their homes with no place to go, the test of loving our neighbors—as Jesus tells us to do—is to welcome them with compassion, grace, and love—without political considerations. The Pope has asked the churches to take in the ‘strangers’ from Syria. Catholic or not, it is time for Christians everywhere to respond.”

Robert Zachritz, Vice President, Advocacy & Government Relations, World Vision US:

“It can be hard during a time of crisis to have a response of love instead of fear. Scriptures admonish us to love the refugee in our midst.”

 

 

Evangelical Immigration Table Celebrates Three-Year Anniversary

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 12, 2015 — In three years, the Evangelical Immigration Table has broadened and deepened its network of leaders calling for a just, compassionate immigration process rooted in biblical values.

Since leaders of national evangelical organizations launched the Table on June 12, 2012, nearly 1,700 local and national leaders have signed its Statement of Principles. Signatories urge legislators to advance meaningful reform that:

• Respects the God-given dignity of every person.
• Protects the unity of the immediate family.
• Respects the rule of law.
• Guarantees secure national borders.
• Ensures fairness to taxpayers.
• Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.

In the Table’s three years, local and national organizers have held hundreds of pastors meetings, prayer events, press conferences and fly-ins. The Table’s documentary film, The Stranger, has screened more than 3,000 times in 46 states and Washington, D.C., since its June 2014 premiere.

The following are quotes from Table leaders:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Three years ago an impressive group of evangelical leaders came to the same commonsense principles for immigration reform. The movement now includes thousands of local pastors and organizers across the country. Our voice is louder, and our message is the same. We want immigration reform.”

Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief:
“On the three-year anniversary of the Evangelical Immigration Table, I am amazed to see the shift in evangelical attitudes towards immigrants and am proud of the work the Table has done to mobilize hundreds of individuals for immigration reform. The growing consensus around immigration reform reflects the deep conviction that many evangelicals have that we are to welcome and love the stranger as we would Christ Himself. We hope that our Congress heeds the calls of many evangelicals in passing immigration reform that would allow millions of our fellow brothers and sisters who live in the shadows of our country to become fully integrated members of our society.“

Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association:
“I remain proud to stand among evangelical leaders who came together three years ago across the denominational, political, cultural and racial spectrum to call on our elected officials to replace the broken immigration system. Since then we have seen growing support from the broader evangelical community. But we have waited too long. In our work, the CCDA encounters families still living in fear of separation and people remaining in the shadows. Our elected officials must act on their moral courage and find solutions that will support immigrants, our economy and our communities. We remain committed to this effort.”

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
“Advancing the well-being of people through immigration reform is what Christian Higher Education wants to be ‘for.’ This coalition of evangelicals brings dedication and hard work to a tough problem. It is in unity that we have hope.”

Dr. Russell Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission:
“In the past three years, I’ve been grateful to see God at work in churches all across this country. God is reminding us that ‘immigrants’ are not an abstraction. They are our neighbors, created in the image of God, and many of them are our brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray that three years from now, we see not only a more just system in the public arena, but also more and more churches that reflect the glorious unity and diversity of the kingdom of God.”

Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“Today we celebrate the collaborative work of the Evangelical Immigration Table. Together, we have won the moral argument for the need of immigration reform. We stand on the edge of a proverbial ‘Jordan River,’ inches away from stepping into the Promised Land. We never would have crossed the desert of apathy and fragmentation without the Evangelical Immigration Table.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“The work of this broad coalition of evangelical leaders for immigration reform has been nothing short of inspiring. Political leadership should take note of the faith-inspired, principled, and trans-partisan efforts of evangelicals and move on immigration reform. We are praying together for solutions.”

Rev. Jim Wallis, Founder and President, Sojourners:
“To see evangelicals coming together to support immigration reform across our racial, cultural, theological, and political differences has been one of the most hopeful signs we have seen for a long time. This is gift to the church, and a blessing to the country by showing divisive politics the way forward.”

‘The Stranger’ Celebrates More Than 3,000 Screenings in First Year

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 4, 2015— Today marks the one-year anniversary of the world premiere of The Stranger, a compelling documentary film that looks at our current immigration system from a biblical perspective.

Since its premiere, more than 3,000 screenings of the film have taken place across 46 states plus Washington, D.C. The film, which is still available for download at www.thestrangerfilm.org, highlights the stories of three families caught in our broken immigration system.

The Stranger is just as relevant now, if not more so,” said Linda Midgett, the filmmaker. “There is so much misinformation and misunderstanding about immigration laws in our country. I’m thrilled that we’ve had more than 3,000 screenings, but I hope more people continue to watch the film and encourage their churches and communities to do the same.”

“In the past year thousands have been able to witness the plight of our undocumented immigrant brothers and sisters through The Stranger,” said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “As millions wait in expectancy for our immigration system to be reformed The Stranger reminds us of the urgent need for reform to pass.”

One year later our country is still dealing with an immigration system that results in families being separated. But the film has helped to change the hearts and minds of evangelicals across the country.

The Stranger is impacting Iowa, and our first showing in our church was a success,” said Luis Gabriel Arredondo, Cultural Ministry Coordinator at the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, Iowa. “The best comment I heard was, ‘We need to let the truth be known.’ The film captured a wide range of situations that helped people get a broad understanding of this issue. This is bringing real-life stories to our community, which longs to speak for the voiceless, for the sojourner who is a stranger to many.”

The Stranger puts a human face on the challenging discussions surrounding immigration reform, said Will Stoller-Lee, Director of the Fuller Theological Seminary in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “It introduces us to the lives of three families, trapped in the current broken immigration system. The stories of these families help show that these are not strangers at all, but people you might already know in your own neighborhood, at your school, in your church, or at your workplace. It will change the way you view immigrants in our society and transform how you think about immigration reform.”

While delving into one of the most complex issues of our time, The Stranger returns the conversation to Scripture, and to the stories of real people.

“Good movies make you care. Good movies make you see the possibilities. Good movies speak to your soul. The Stranger does all those things exceptionally well,” said Tim Moore, Senior Pastor of Walk Worthy Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. “But this movie was also about real people whose lives have been needlessly put on hold, families spent into near bankruptcy trying to do things right. I’m praying for the sequel, where these lives are filmed living their God-given potential, contributing to the country that has always been her best when opportunity to live the American dream was the hope of every immigrant.”

“While our country continues to debate the need for immigration reform, millions of men, women and children created in God’s image continue to live in the shadows,” said Dr. Barrett Duke, Vice President of Public Policy and Research for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, who is in the film. “The Stranger has served remarkably well in telling a small portion of the story of the human toll involved in our nation’s broken immigration system. I pray that God will continue to use this film to spur us all to action for the sake of our nation and the stranger in our midst.”

Follow The Stranger on Facebook and Twitter.

Evangelical Churches, Pastors Engage on Immigration

On Reform, Recent Poll Indicates Broad Support in the Pews

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 22, 2015 — Evangelical Christians on the local and national levels continue to call for solutions for our broken immigration system and to address immigrants from a biblical perspective.

In the past week, more than 250 leaders from local churches around the country signed up for Evangelical Immigration Table webinars in English and Spanish on the biblical response to immigration and resources available to pastors as they engage their congregations in the conversation.

“Politicians may not be taking a serious, collaborative approach to solving the broken immigration system, but church leaders are working to ensure that their congregations look at immigration through a biblical and not a partisan lens,” said Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association. “We must bring attention to the fact that our immigrant brothers and sisters suffer daily because of injustice in our current immigration laws.”

From Alabama to Iowa, local pastors are continuing to speak out on the moral imperatives for reform and urge a constructive political conversation around immigration from candidates for president. Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, sounded a similar note in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Reiterating his theme, Moore said, “The immigration skirmishes over the past several years have turned the topic into a culture-war issue it should never have become. America isn’t a silo of limited resources that will be spoiled by adding more people. Evangelicals have rightly insisted that people should never be regarded as a burden on society, and many of our healthiest and most evangelistic churches are filled with first-generation immigrants. More than that, evangelicals increasingly see the need for a tough but fair solution to our nation’s immigration crisis that highlights both justice and compassion.”

Meanwhile, more churches are engaging on immigration, including some of the largest churches in Iowa. Among pastors, the number signing on to the Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform continues to grow as well.

“There is no doubt the issue of fixing our broken immigration system remains at the forefront of people of faith,” said Rev. Tony Suarez, Executive Vice President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). “Our moral convictions do not allow us to look the other way while children and families suffer.”

“Thanks to widespread Bible reading, prayer, preaching, and awareness campaigns, the groundswell of evangelical support for immigration reform continues to build in churches and communities across the country,” said Galen Carey, Vice President for Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals. “Politicians seeking support from evangelicals in 2016 should take note and offer voters a positive vision for an immigration policy that is pro-family and that promotes economic growth.”

And this spring, LifeWay Research found that nearly 70 percent of evangelical Christians support broad immigration reform that provides not only for border security but also for an opportunity for immigrants lacking authorization to earn legal status and citizenship. The same percentage say Congress should act this year. The findings moved Daniel Carroll Rodas of the Denver Seminary to write in the Christian Post about an evangelical community interested in the biblical perspective on immigration.

“We are experiencing a significant shift in how evangelicals understand immigration,” said Stephan Bauman, President and CEO of World Relief. “Welcoming the stranger is a biblical and moral imperative, and fixing our current immigration system is urgent. LifeWay Research’s recent polling confirms that most evangelical Christians want Congress to take action and lead our country toward a more just, compassionate immigration system. We call upon Congress and the future presidential candidates to embrace the call of the faith community.”

“Despite the failure of Congress to act, we will continue our work of bringing people of faith together around the need for comprehensive immigration reform,” said Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners. “We will also hold all presidential candidates accountable for their policy positions on immigration, and we will keep at it until the job is done.”

“Recent research confirms that immigration reform is important to students,” said Shirley V. Hoogstra, President of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. “Those who are undocumented and have no pathway toward legal status face hurdle after hurdle in obtaining the education that will allow them to fulfill their God-given abilities and to better their lives, their communities and the country they have lived in for most of their lives. The CCCU has joined the Evangelical Immigration Table to urge Congress to act and ensure that all students in the U.S. have the opportunity to pursue an education that will give them a brighter future.”

While voices ranging from political to cynical are leading the immigration conversation in Congress and among presidential candidates, more and more evangelical Christians are taking a biblical approach.

“Christians recognize the Bible calls us time and time again to treat the most vulnerable with compassion and care, with several passages specifically mentioning the refugees in our midst,” concluded Robert Zachritz, Vice President of Advocacy & Government Relations for World Vision. “Doing so in a manner that shows respect for the rule of law while also providing a path to citizenship is a way to bring hope to people in desperate situations.”

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The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.

New Poll: Evangelical Support for Immigration Reform Remains Robust

For a recording of today’s press call, click here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 11, 2015 — Support for broad immigration reform from Congress is strong among evangelical Christians, according to a new poll from LifeWay Research, an evangelical research firm.

More than two-thirds of the poll’s 1,000 respondents expressed support for reform that both boosts border security and provides undocumented immigrants an opportunity to earn legal status and eventual citizenship. Poll results are available online.

The following are quotes from local pastors and national evangelical leaders, across denominations and communities, who discussed the findings on a press call today:

Ed Stetzer, Executive Director, LifeWay Research:
“The survey results show that evangelicals are supportive of immigration reform, yet also wary about some of what that might include. Law and order seems to matter more, but families and faith issues seem to move evangelicals into the pro-immigration reform column. Considering the current political climate and the assumptions in the current political discourse, evangelicals are surprisingly open to immigration reforms.”

Evelyn Chaparro, Spanish Pastor, The River Church, Brandon, Fla.; President, Radio Genesis, Tampa:
“The stories that I hear day to day from those I pastor and from the listening audience of the radio station are very real and sometimes very heart-wrenching. There is real fear and insecurity, and that dominates the lives of the people I serve on a daily basis. We need to speak for those that can’t, and we need to recommend and support immigration reform consistent with biblical principles. Latinos and other ethnic minorities have particularly strong views on this topic. The results of this survey help us see where we agree and where we still need to work.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“It’s very interesting to see the alignment for younger evangelicals, which includes strong support for a pathway toward legal status and citizenship. Young evangelicals recognize that immigrants are people who share our values. I think that the future is with this group of young people, who want to see reform sooner rather than later. Not only is diversity essential for learning today, but it will only grow in importance. Our colleges and our student bodies want to be in the midst of the emerging diversity conversation because it prepares everyone for a global future.”

Kevin McBride, Senior Pastor, Raymond Baptist Church, Raymond, N.H.:
“These results are important and encouraging to me as a pastor to continue to help our congregations see that Biblical principles do apply to current issues and challenge people to be involved. As a pastor I see this issue as a biblical mandate for me in the context of helping the poor and disadvantaged in society. Evangelicals are not as one-sided as sometimes we’re made out to be on this issue. People in our churches want to know how Scripture applies to what we’re seeing in the daily news.”

Ryan Perz, Lead Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Orange City, Iowa:
“I’m personally concerned about immigration reform because of how it affects the community I live in. If you come and visit my community, it’s filled with many immigrant neighbors, working very hard … they’re a vital part of the community. As a pastor and a lover of Christ, I want to be obedient to his command to love my neighbor as myself.

“The polling results show that any candidate has a lot to gain and very little to lose by supporting immigration reform. As potential candidates come to visit, I hope they’ll take note of these findings.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“Hispanic evangelicals are glad the new research by LifeWay Research shows broad and diverse evangelical support for commonsense immigration reform. Our prayer is that Congress can follow the example of this evangelical coalition and pass immigration reform this year.”

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“For years, many evangelicals have been responding to immigrants in their communities with compassion and by calling for immigration reform. What this new polling shows is widespread support for immigration reform among people in the pews. Evangelicals believe there is an urgency for Congress to reform our laws because they personally know immigrants who are affected, or they may be immigrants themselves. We hope Congress, instead of being swayed by the minority, takes up immigration reform that a majority of evangelicals across the country supports.”

Documentary Film Explores Biblical Response to Immigration

HOUSTON, OCTOBER 16, 2014 The Stranger, a documentary film that looks at immigration from a biblical perspective, screened Tuesday at Pleasant Hill Ministries. The film highlights the stories of three families who are caught in our broken immigration system. It is available for download via www.thestrangerfilm.org.

At a panel discussion following the screening, local evangelical leaders spoke about the immense human costs our immigration system exacts on churches, families and communities:

Dr. Steven Bezner, Senior Pastor, Houston Northwest Church:
“In a world filled with shrill tones and harsh words, it is more important than ever for the followers of Jesus to faithfully discuss, lead, and engage the important issues of our day. It is thrilling to see Christians working together on the issues of immigration. I’m excited about the possibilities if we work together.”

Pastor Harvey Clemons, Jr., Senior Pastor, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church:
“It is clear to those who are sensitive to human rights issues that there are systemic problems with our current immigration policy. The effect of this failed system impacts families, the economy and psyche of our nation, not to mention our relationship with the creator. For these reasons the faith community must be a light in the midst of the darkness that this policy has perpetuated. We at Pleasant Hill are honored to host the viewing of this film and invite those interested in understanding Scriptures call on this issue to join with us in a time of learning and dialogue.”

Graciela Saenz, Attorney, Saenz & Burkhardt, PLLC:
“Our God wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves. I begin with that premise and put myself in the shoes of those that seek something better in their future. God has blessed me with many opportunities to do this in my own life so I see myself over and over again in the eyes of those that are coming to our great country. I pray that God continues to open my eyes, my ears and my heart to my neighbors. This film seeks to show but a small amount of what God really has in store for us all to know and understand. We should be confident that He will provide us with the tools and wisdom to do what is right and good in His eyes.”

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