On Monday a group of prominent faith leaders belonging to the Evangelical Immigration Table gathered on a press call to launch largest evangelical mobilization effort for immigration reform known to date.
Reaching out to more than 100,000 evangelical churches nationwide and more than 875,000 followers through social media, leaders promoted the “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge and a feature video that encourages congregations to participate. During this initiative, participants are asked to read one scripture on immigration a day for 40 days and reflect on it to help inform their views.
This campaign is part of a broader evangelical effort to help change the hearts and minds of policy makers and build the political willpower to pass immigration reform. Faith leaders encouraged our nation’s leaders — especially those who are compelled by their faith — to take the challenge and enact immigration policy that is driven by biblical principles.
“Evangelicals see scripture as the highest authority in both belief and conduct in life. We look to scripture to have its own guidance for us,” said Dr. Joel Hunter, senior Pastor of Northland Church in central Florida. “ … Our job as spiritual leaders is to shepherd those in our realm of influence according to the values of scripture. We believe that will percolate up into policy that reflects the passion of Christ and reforms the immigration system, which everyone agrees is broken.”
For Dr. Bill Hamel, President of Evangelical Free Church of America, the issue is not only a moral responsibility, but a personal reminder of what is just.
“In the 60s, I was a college student and I missed the civil rights movement. I watched and did nothing, and I am committed to not sit this one out,” Hamel said. “…That time, we were on the wrong side biblically and politically and we will not stand on the sidelines this time.”
The leaders seemed to be in consensus that the issue of immigration, while complex in scope and partisan at times, is one that needs to be solved. It is affecting real human lives and society as a whole.
“It’s no longer us and them — it’s a we issue,” said Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church. “… These are our brothers and sisters, and it’s where we need to follow the word of Jesus.”
Evangelical leaders feel prepared now more than ever to enact immigration reform — and they are optimistic that they can change hearts and minds by focusing on the truth in scripture.
Success for this campaign will largely depend on participation, so we encourage you to embark on this challenge with the rest of the country today. Join the challenge by downloading your free bookmark here!
Ivone Guillen is the Immigration Campaigns and Communications Associate for Sojourners.