South Carolina Evangelical Leaders Call for a Vote on Immigration Reform

Local Pastors to Fly to D.C., Meet with Members of Congress Next Week

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Top South Carolina evangelical leaders held a press conference this morning to highlight the biblical call to welcome the stranger and urge Congress to move forward with a vote on immigration reform.

The press conference featured local pastors who discussed the moral imperatives for immigration reform, their efforts during the April congressional recess and their April 29 #Pray4Reform trip to Washington, D.C., when pastors from all six of the state’s Republican districts will meet with their members of Congress.

The following quotes are from pastors at today’s press conference:

Johnny Baker, Senior Pastor, Abundant Life Church, Greenville:
“I am the Pastor of one church with two congregations, one English-speaking and one Spanish-speaking. Our motto is ‘two congregations — one heart.’ I have become involved in immigration reform because of my relationship with hundreds of Spanish-speaking people. The message of Jesus says to ‘go into all the world and make disciples.’ That’s my call as a Pastor. I happen to pastor a church in the middle of a community with thousands of Hispanic people. That’s the mission field God has given me, and I want to be faithful in His service.”

Dr. Manuel Izquierdo, Senior pastor, Jesus El Rey Assemblies of God Church, Greenville:
“As Pastors we understand the immigration issue has moral and legal implications, both of which are clearly dealt with in the Scriptures. We are a nation of immigrants that historically has extended a hand to the less fortunate, and as a result we have seen God extend His grace over us. But America is a land of justice. The Lord teaches us about restitution when law has been broken. That why we stand for immigration reform that respects the rule of law though the application of fair financial retribution, while ensuring that the immigrant population does not unfairly become a taker of rather than a fair participant in the opportunities our nation.”

Jason Lee, Senior Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Spartanburg:
“I’m passionate about this issue because first the Bible speaks to how Christians should concern themselves with compassion for their neighbors and justice for the ‘stranger in our midst.’ But beyond just the biblical instructions and commands about how we should respond as Christians, we must remember there are approximately 12 million lives (undocumented immigrants) that are battling with this issue. It’s beyond just a compassion and justice issue now; we need comprehensive immigration reform to happen, and this will take courageous political action. So we are pleading with the House of Representatives to take action now.”

Pastor Carlos Ruiz, Senior Pastor, Iglesia Bautista Filadelfia, Taylors:
“I am involved in this because I think we need to do something for this situation, not only for the Latino community, but for immigrants from all nationalities. God tells us in the Scriptures that we show the love of Christ through our actions — and we have a moral, spiritual and economic problem that we need to address. My heart breaks when I see my congregants suffering under this unjust system. We have seen families separated by deportations in many cases, and the outcomes are devastating. Something must be done.”

Dale Sutton, Pastor, Overbrook Baptist Church, Greenville:
“I am a pragmatist. We have a national dilemma that needs a pragmatic fix. One of the major issues for Christ-followers is that political issues tend to be painted with broad strokes by those with vested interests or individuals on the opposite ends of the political spectrum. But we need to remember that real people, real families, innocent children are caught in the middle of the political debate. For too many years, we have talked about immigration, we have talked about our opponents in the immigration debate, but we have not solved the problem. Regardless of how we got here or who is to blame, this issue needs to be addressed. Immigration is a moral, economic, legal, social and spiritual mess. To solve this issue will require courage and leadership. I want to encourage our congressional delegation to fix this broken system.”

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