My “multi-great” grandfather, Thomas Tinsley, landed in Jamestown in 1638 after a risky voyage across the Atlantic. My mother’s family, the Harper’s, came to America from Ireland. Along with them came others from Norway, Poland, Germany, Italy, and a host of captives from Africa. They were followed by still more from Asia, including refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Native Americans came first, beating all of us to this continent by a few thousand years. We have come from every corner of the earth. We are a nation of immigrants.
We are one nation with many ethnicities embracing every skin color and many languages. More than ninety languages are spoken in Houston. Polish is the third largest language group in Chicago with a Polish population equal to Warsaw.
The recent explosion of the Hispanic population with the rise of undocumented citizens has put pressure on our immigration systems to the point that we are tempted to forget our immigrant history and heritage.
In light of this, evangelicals across the United States are calling for an Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action for Immigration Reform on April 17, 2013. Leaders organizing the event include Leith Anderson, President of National Association of Evangelicals; Richard Land, President of Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and Gabriel Salguero, President of National Latino Evangelical Coalition. Keynote speakers at the Washington D.C. event include Bill Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church; Laurie Bechore, Mariners Church; and Lee de Leon, Templo Calvario in Orange County, CA. Supporters include a long list of evangelical organizations such as Focus on the Family, Navigators, Lifeway, and Missio Nexus. This represents a huge network across denominational lines to bring focus to one of the pressing issues of our time.
According to the event’s website, evangelicals across America are calling for prayer and bi-partisan legislation 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 wish to become permanent residents.”
M. Daniel Caroll-Rodas, distinguished professor at Denver Seminary, speaking to evangelical leaders in Ft Collins said, “The Bible teaches us to welcome strangers, and we must live that. We must make this a foundation for what we are communicating to our congregations.”
Faith leaders met in Florida on April 3 for “Who Is My Neighbor? A Forum on Immigration.” They urged people to turn to the Scriptures to see what Jesus would say about welcoming the stranger. Matthew Soerens of World Relief said, “We are working to build a moral movement of evangelicals who believe in just and practical immigration solutions that include an earned process for citizenship. Tens of thousands of Christians have accepted the ‘I Was a StrangerChallenge’ and are reading 40 days of Bible verse to learn about God’s heart for the immigrant.”