The Evangelical Immigration Table has launched the "I was a stranger" prayer challenge to encourage Christians to spend 40 days reflecting on scripture passages dealing with immigration and pray about what they read.
Churches and individuals who take the challenge are provided with a digital copy of a bookmark they can use. The bookmark lists 40 Bible passages that speak to the immigration issue.
The Evangelical Immigration Table has a statement of principles, signed by many evangelical leaders across the country, calling for a bipartisan immigration reform based upon those principles. The principles are: respecting the God-given dignity of every person, protecting the unity of the immediate family, respecting the rule of law, guaranteeing secure national borders, ensuring fairness to taxpayers, and establishing a path to legal status or citizenship for current unauthorized immigrants.
In a Monday conference call with members of the press, Dr. Bill Hamel, president of Evangelical Free Church of America, explained that those principles do not provide specific policy solutions to immigration problems, but they are designed to provide a framework that will help members of Congress think through the issues as they work on immigration legislation.
Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, a Church Distributed, Longwood, Fla., added that in a democratic government that is designed to represent the interests of the governed, he expects that the values of the governed will be reflected in government policies.
"Our job as spiritual leaders," Hunter said, "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 compassion of Christ and informs the immigration system ... to the extent that we'll have a much better and more compassionate immigration system, and one that makes more sense even for the economy."
The name of the campaign is taken from one of Jesus' parables in Matthew 25. When the time comes for God to separate the righteous from the unrighteous, Jesus explains, the blessed will be those who fed the hungry, clothed the poor, helped the sick, visited prisoners and sheltered strangers, "... for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, ... ."
Heads of the Evangelical Immigration Table include Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and executive editor for The Christian Post; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and a senior editorial advisor for The Christian Post; and Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners.
Other evangelical leaders who signed the document include Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family; Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary; Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton College; author and speaker Eric Metaxas; and pastors Bill Hybels, Max Lucado, and James Merritt.
More information about the "I was a stranger" challenge can be found at the Evangelical Immigration Table website or by texting "immigration" to 877877.