Leadership Profile: Bethany Christian Services
October 5, 2021
The Evangelical Immigration Table is a coalition of 10 Christian organizations that have come together to encourage distinctly biblical thinking about issues of immigration, provide discipleship resources and advocate for public policies consistent with biblical values. Each of these organizations brings a unique perspective and focus to the Table. Over the next several months, each of our EIT leadership organizations will be answering some questions to help us better understand who they are, what they do, why they care about immigration issues and how they came to be involved in the EIT. Today, we kick off this series with an interview from Bethany Christian Services.
Can you tell us a little bit about Bethany Christian Services?
Bethany Christian Services is an international nonprofit that is changing the world through family. 75 years ago, we began our work by serving one child. Today, Bethany partners with churches and communities across the United States and around the world, impacting hundreds of thousands of lives each year.
Bethany demonstrates the love and compassion of Jesus by strengthening and preserving families, finding families for children who need them, and supporting refugees and immigrants who have fled danger. We envision a world where all children, youth, and families are safe, loved, and connected.
Why does your organization believe that it is important to care about immigrants and immigration issues?
Bethany is motivated by our Christian faith, which compels us to care for the overlooked and ignored. Jesus taught his followers to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27) and used a powerful story to demonstrate what that love looks like. This kind of love extends not simply to our friends or those who live in our communities but reaches beyond our borders. Jesus defines a true neighbor as “the one who had mercy,” and he simply but profoundly instructs us to “go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)
At Bethany, we want to be great at the Great Commandment – Loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind and showing that we love God by loving our neighbor (Matthew 22:37). As Christ followers, we care about immigrants because they are created in God’s image and God deeply loves them; they are our neighbors.
How did your organization get involved in the EIT?
The Evangelical Immigration Table brings together followers of Jesus who are committed to living out biblical principles like loving our neighbor and welcoming the stranger. Bethany shares the Table’s principles and wants to be part of a movement of Christians who are living out their faith with action. Bethany has cared for immigrants for nearly 50 years, but our services for refugees and immigrants began rapidly growing in recent years. As Bethany’s work with unaccompanied children, refugees, asylum-seekers, and trafficking victims expanded, we sought out partnerships with organizations who share our faith and serve immigrants too. Bethany officially joined the Table in 2019.
What do you hope to see the EIT bring to the immigration conversation?
Too often Christians are known for what we are against rather than what we’re for. And Christians are divided over so many issues, including immigration. Just imagine if Christians were primarily known for these action items: loving God, loving our neighbor, and serving immigrants, orphans, and widows. At Bethany, we’re optimistic enough to believe Christians across denominations, with different doctrinal beliefs, can unify around these commands. The Table can be a unifying force for Christians who want to live out what the Bible says about welcoming the stranger.
Anything else you would like to share about your work with immigrants and refugees?
Bethany has served refugees and immigrants for nearly 50 years with an emphasis on finding safe, loving homes for refugee children who have lost their parents and families. In fact, Bethany finds homes for more unaccompanied refugee minors than any other organization in the United States.
To support immigrant children and families in the United States, Bethany relies on a network of churches, individuals, businesses that employ refugees, and other community partners. If you don’t know a refugee or a recent immigrant, we encourage you to meet one. You can sponsor a refugee family and help them adjust to life in the United States, provide temporary foster care for unaccompanied migrant children who are waiting reunification with their families, or get to know immigrants across social media platforms. As we learn one another’s stories, barriers break down.
Let’s be the kind of neighbor Jesus talked about and have love, compassion, and mercy for all our neighbors – the neighbor next door and the neighbor forced to live in a refugee camp.