taking the words of Jesus seriously

Editor’s note: Five powerful and diverse evangelical voices came together in a first-ever “National Town Hall on Evangelical Faith and Politics” (Aug. 6, Facebook Live), moderated by Lisa Sharon Harper, to bravely start the conversation Evangelicals need to have in this consequential year for our nation: Charles Robinson from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma works with The Red Road, a non-profit that shares the love of Jesus with native people in a culturally relevant and biblically sound way. Rev. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra, is Fuller Seminary’s assistant professor of Integral Mission and Transformational Development in the school of Intercultural Studies and Centro Latino. Rev. Justin Adour is lead pastor of Redeemer East Harlem Church in New York City. Kyle J. Howard is a theologian and trauma-informed soul care provider. Andrea Lucado is a journalist and an author based in Texas. Everyone except Andrea is an Evangelical of color. What follows is Part 5 of our 8-part series based on the National Town Hall.

We tackle another hot topic this election cycle: Immigration. Alexia has been deeply involved in the immigration reform movement for decades. I asked her how she’s seen immigration policy shift under the current administration and how scripture guided her when considering what our immigration policy could be? She went to Psalm 139.

Alexia: Psalm 139 talks about how we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. What I think about is how do we treat children, not putting them in cages, right? You are wonderfully made. How do we take that seriously in all the ways we deal with each other? 

I have been working with our immigration system and with immigrant ministry for 40 years. It’s a horribly broken system, ineffective, illogical, unjust and inhumane. But since this administration came in, I have never in my life seen, through Democrat and Republican administrations, anything like this. There have been over 200 Executive Orders and regulations passed, all of them restrictive. I don’t have any other word for it but vicious. Most people know about the children in cages and separation of families, that’s the tip of the iceberg. 

READ: We Go There: Abortion

Guatemala is a country where what’s going on there is so terrible in terms of human rights violations that we have consistently given asylum to people coming from Guatemala. This administration declared Guatemala a safe third country. So people coming from El Salvador, for example, have to have asked for asylum in every country they came through on the way to coming to the United States. They declared all these countries safe third countries, even though they are countries, like Guatemala, where you regularly grant people asylum who are running from these countries. They declare them safe third countries for the sake of not having to consider people’s asylum cases. 

The Statue of Liberty is weeping at some of the viciousness of these policies. There are 92 scriptures that specifically talk about hospitality to the stranger. Here in terms of importance to God’s heart. Beyond that, I think about the compassion of Christ. If Jesus looks at us and suffers with us, and if we feel Jesus’s compassion, we have to look at other people and suffer with them.

I’m pretty moderate with regard to immigration reform policies. I don’t think we can’t have borders. But I think we have to have immigration policy that is logical, just, and humane. What this administration has done is nothing short of vicious. And some of what our churches have done  — some of it is blind support, and some of it is real de-prioritization of immigrants as human beings, and as our brothers and sisters, as members of our families. You know, these are complex issues about where we draw the line, but there’s not even a conversation here. 

Many Evangelical churches and Pentecostal churches are right there working on this issue, so I’m certainly not painting everybody with that brush. But I am saying there are so many of my brothers and sisters, as Evangelicals, white Evangelicals, who just aren’t paying attention, who are not treating us as members of the same body.

If we are brothers and sisters. Why don’t you see us as fearfully and wonderfully made?

The National Town Hall on Evangelical Faith and Politics was convened by Freedom Road LLC in partnership with Evangelicals for Justice, The Voices Project, Global Immersion Project and Evangelicals for Social Action. You can watch the inaugural Town Hall on Facebook. Follow Freedom Road on Facebook and Instagram @FreedomRoadUs.

About The Author

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Lisa Sharon Harper is the founder and president of Freedom Road, LLC, and the author of several books, including the critically acclaimed, "The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right." Asked why she does what she does, Lisa's answer is clear: “So that the church might be worthy of the moniker ‘Bride of Christ.'" Through preaching, writing, training, network development, and public witness, Lisa—an Auburn Senior Fellow—engages the church in the work of justice and peacemaking. She was named “#5 of the Top 13 Women to Watch in 2012” by the Center for American Progress and was awarded the 2013 Faith and Justice Leadership Award by the National Black Women’s Round Table. She formerly served as the Chief Church Engagement Officer at Sojourners.

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