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Evangelicals view immigration as an opportunity, not a threat

Migrants cross the border near Del Rio, Texas, in September 2021.
Migrants cross the border near Del Rio, Texas, in September 2021. | YouTube/Reuters

As a Baptist pastor in Central Texas, I have witnessed how immigration issues are a high priority for many members of my church. When I minister to families about the complicated process of U.S. immigration, we are able to find common ground on the Scriptural mandates to assist the poor, be an advocate for the marginalized, and show hospitality as a church.  

Now, there is growing evidence that my church is not an outlier. A Lifeway Research survey this fall shows that many Evangelicals are changing their perspective on immigration and are being guided by their faith when contemplating the refugee and immigration issues facing our country.  

In Matthew 25, Jesus reminds His followers that the way they treat the vulnerable among them is a direct reflection of their love for God, saying, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” The Biblical mandates to care for the vulnerable members of our communities should compel us to advocate for immigration reform and dedicate ourselves to caring for immigrants. As each person bears the image of God, we must treat them with the respect and dignity that image demands.  

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Many Evangelicals already recognize the importance of immigration reform to their Christian testimony. In the Lifeway Research poll, 80% of Evangelicals want to see Democrats and Republicans work together to develop bipartisan solutions that provide a pathway to citizenship for those brought here as children, secure our border and provide farmers with an adequate legal workforce. 

Alongside evangelicals’ growing conviction of the importance of extending compassion to immigrants, there is also a mounting recognition of the need for immediate action. Over 70% of Evangelicals polled want Congress to pass such solutions this year.  

People are coming to the United States for opportunity and safety. Fleeing extreme poverty and violence has brought generations to our country since its establishment. However, nowadays, immigrant families are being challenged by immigration policies and living with the risk of being thrown back into environments where the ramifications are literally life and death. We need to provide solutions because real lives are at stake, and many of these lives are our brothers and sisters in the church.  

As a Southern Baptist, I have been taught to be generous to vulnerable people around the world through giving weekly to missions globally. By bringing immigrants into our country, God in His providence has brought the world to us and given us the opportunity to be generous to people in our communities, churches, and workplaces, as well as opening more doors to reach other countries with the good news of the Gospel. 

For hundreds of years, the Evangelical church in America has sent missionaries overseas to proclaim the Gospel, some of whom spent a lifetime working for one convert in a culture opposed to Christianity. Each person that is converted to Christ in the United States has intimate connections in their homeland that make cross-cultural evangelism and missions organic and effective. As part of a missional-minded church, I have begun to see immigration as an effective pathway back to countries of origin through the deeply established relationships of those seeking a new life here in the States.  

Welcoming immigrants is a great opportunity for the church to step up and be a real voice to the vulnerable. Where we have failed to represent the Kingdom of God in the past, immigration provides an opportunity for the church to redeem itself by being a united voice for the love, compassion, and justice of Jesus Christ. 

Amos Humphries is the Senior Pastor of Park Lake Drive Baptist Church in Waco, Tx. This multi-ethnic congregation proudly supports Immigration Reform that affects a large segment of their fellowship and the North Waco community.

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