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Frontline Report: The Border

Re-posted with permission from World Relief: https://www.worldrelief.org/blog/frontline-report-the-border 

By Ted Oswald and Kevin Woehr

September 6, 2018

Lea este artículo en Español, Aquí.

Ted Oswald, World Relief Sacramento’s Immigration Legal Services staff attorney, and Kevin Woehr, DOJ Accredited Representative with World Relief DuPage/Aurora, recently returned from Tijuana, Mexico as part of a team comprised of World Relief staff from across the U.S. advising asylum seekers at the border. The following offers a brief but powerful glimpse into their time on the border.

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Evangelical Leaders Urge Trump Administration to Admit More Refugees

Click here for a recording of today’s call

September 12, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Further cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement program would harm religious freedom internationally, local pastors and national leaders said on a press call today.

The Trump administration is expected to maintain or lower the refugee cap from this year’s historic low of 45,000, despite the record-high number of refugees worldwide. No matter the cap, the U.S. is on track to take in a record-low 22,000 refugees this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Refugees of all backgrounds, including Christians and other religious minorities fleeing persecution for their faith, have been shut out.

National leaders from the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter in August asking the Trump administration to admit more refugees, citing religious liberty and our history of offering safe haven to people fleeing religious persecution. Grassroots leaders have since joined them; more than 400 local pastors and lay leaders have signed on to the letter.

The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:

Nathan Bult, Director of Government Affairs, Bethany Christian Services:
“At Bethany Christian Services, we know that refugee resettlement saves lives, and that is why we are deeply concerned about the decline in refugee admissions. Every refugee has a name, every refugee has a story, and every refugee matters to God — that means every refugee should matter to us. As persecution of religious and ethnic minorities escalates around the world, Bethany remains committed to welcoming refugees just like Jesus has called us to.”

Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Over the past 40 years, American evangelical Christians have opened their hearts and homes to hundreds of thousands of refugees, including many persecuted believers who would otherwise not be alive today. This extraordinary ministry of mercy has nearly ground to a halt as the sharp reduction in refugee resettlement approvals has left tens of thousands of refugees stranded in dangerous refugee camps and settlements. We can and must do much better than this. We ask President Trump to allow at least 75,000 refugees to resettle in the United States in the coming year.”

Eric Costanzo, Senior Pastor, South Tulsa Baptist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma:
“At a time when the needs of the world’s most vulnerable are the greatest, we are in danger of welcoming fewer children, women and men than ever in our refugee resettlement program’s history, including after 9/11. The program has nearly been ground to a halt, and its infrastructure for the future is evaporating. As American evangelical Christians, living in a country with unmatched wealth and extravagance, I believe we must absolutely ask ourselves how God would have us respond on behalf of people made in His image during the worst refugee crisis the world has ever seen. We are praying that the current administration and our elected officials will listen to those of us who work with refugees personally, and restore responsible vitality to our resettlement program.”

Patrick Vaughn, Assistant Pastor, Christ Church East Bay, Oakland, California:
“As an evangelical pastor, I believe hospitality toward refugees reflects the heart of God. As followers of Jesus and as Americans, I believe the Church has extensive resources for welcoming refugees. It is my sincere hope, along with other evangelical Christians, that as a country we will be courageous by sharing our resources by welcoming refugees into the freedom and security that our country has to offer to refugees.”

Jenny Yang, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“The drastic decline in refugee resettlement over the past couple years has meant that far fewer persecuted people, including those persecuted for their Christian faith, have been able to find safety and religious freedom in the U.S. A further cut to the ceiling for refugee resettlement would harm even more people persecuted for their faith. We’re praying that President Trump will set the ceiling back at 75,000, and World Relief and our many partner churches, along with other resettlement organizations, stand ready to welcome them.”

Statement on the Life and Legacy of Sen. John McCain

August 30, 2018 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The leadership of the Evangelical Immigration Table issued the following statement reflecting on the life and legacy of Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), who died on Saturday. Quotes from Table leaders and Arizona evangelical pastors follow the statement:

“As evangelical leaders, we honor the life and leadership of Sen. John McCain. We will particularly miss his leadership in the long struggle to reform our broken immigration system. Sen. McCain pushed for immigration reform for years, participating in countless meetings with evangelical leaders both in Arizona and in Washington, D.C. He expressed appreciation for the approach and principles of the Evangelical Immigration Table, with a concern for border security, family unity, refugee resettlement, a responsive legal immigration system and a workable solution for the undocumented.

Representing a border state at the center of the nation’s immigration debate, he displayed a clear understanding of the issues and a keen appreciation for the invaluable contributions of immigrants to strengthening our nation. 

Sen. McCain was a man of character and faith, which he displayed in the many meetings during which he requested the prayers of faith leaders. He frequently would take the time to pray with those he encountered as he sought wisdom and courage to carry out his leadership duties faithfully.

His passing leaves a large void in Congress, not only on immigration but on other issues, including religious freedom and human rights. His leadership and role as a senior statesman will be missed deeply. Our prayers are with Sen. McCain’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.  We pray for others to take up his mantle of courageous and compassionate leadership.”

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment (formerly Korean Churches for Community Development)

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador and General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

The following are quotes from national leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table and from local pastors in Arizona:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“John McCain courageously sought immigration reform — seeking answers instead of arguments. Who will courageously continue his cause?”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“Sen. John McCain was a champion for refugees, immigrants and vulnerable people around the world. His values-driven leadership made our country and the world better, and he will be greatly missed.”

Caleb Campbell, Lead Pastor, Desert Springs Bible Church, Phoenix:
“Sen. McCain represented me in Washington for the majority of my life. Though a maverick, he was no island. He was part of the community and nation he served. His steadfast courage, principled leadership and winsome storytelling will be greatly missed.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“What a great loss for our country and the world. We will miss Sen. McCain’s leadership and presence.”

Chris Schutte, Former Rector, Christ Church Anglican, Phoenix:
“In the midst of his busy schedule in the fall of 2013, Sen. McCain took time with meet with a group of evangelical pastors to discuss how we might best engage our congregations on the issue of immigration. The senator took many personal risks in his consistent advocacy for a compassionate, pragmatic, and inclusive immigration policies—respectful of the rule of law while also understanding the complexities of individual stories—and his courage inspired us to draw on the biblical stories of welcoming strangers in our own life and ministries. He also seemed genuinely desirous of prayer. No one can replace Senator John McCain, but I’m hopeful that his vision for Arizona, America, and the world might take root in these most troubling times.”

Small Town Life and the Great Commandment

Re-posted with permission from Texas Baptists: http://txb.life/article/small-town-life-and-the-great-commandment 

By Chris McLain

I can’t speak for those living in urban contexts, but in Crowell it matters whether you’re native-born or a transplant from elsewhere.

Let me explain. It’s not that new people who move into our community are any less welcome or loved than the locals, but their experience of small-town life is certainly different.

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Over 750 Faith Groups, Leaders Say Trump Must Allow More Refugees in the US

August 26, 2018

An interfaith coalition of more than 750 religious groups and leaders have demanded that the Trump administration allow for more refugees to settle in the United States.

The Trump administration has garnered controversy for its reduction in the number of refugees being allowed to resettle in the United States.

In a letter addressed to President Donald Trump and officially dated Aug. 21, the religious groups declared that “people of faith will not stand by idly as the United States turns its back on these individuals.”

Read more from The Christian Post>>

Unexpected Mission Field

By Devin Tressler

If you ask Liang where he’s from, he’ll tell you simply, “Burma.” But if you talk to him much longer about his home, you find out that it’s complicated: He’s of the Zomi people from Chin State, in the country most of the world calls “Myanmar”. Where you’re from and what you call yourself is important there. Many of the Zomi people are Christian. In fact it was their faith that led the government of the mostly-Buddhist country (controlled by a different ethnic group) to expel them from the country.

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Trump Admits Only 23 Christian Refugees From Mideast In 2018

August 13, 2018 

In a now embarrassing January 2017 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Donald Trump was asked, “The refugee changes you’re looking to make, as it relates to persecuted Christians, do you see them as kind of a priority here?” Trump answered, “Yes. They’ve been horribly treated . . . We are going to help them.” However, a new letter from the Evangelical Immigration Table notes that in the first half of 2018, the Trump administration admitted only 23 Middle Eastern Christian refugees. 

Read more from Forbes>>

Adopted and Undocumented

August 12, 2018

Mauricio Oviedo Soto was 6 years old when a judge in a Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, circuit court officially recognized his adoption. With the stroke of a pen, he became Mauricio Cappelli, taking the surname of his new American father.

Nearly 32 years later, on March 12, 2018, Cappelli stepped off a commercial flight at Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José, Costa Rica, in the country of his birth. He was still processing the last 24 hours: Early that morning, officers entered his holding cell in a South Texas immigration detention center and told him he would be deported that day to his native country for the second time in his life.

Read more from The Intercept>>

Evangelical Leaders Urge White House To Raise Refugee Admissions For 2019

August 9, 2018

Seven evangelical Christian organizations have jointly criticized the Trump administration for allowing refugee resettlement to hit a historic low at a time when the global refugee crisis is intensifying. 

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and religious freedom ambassador Sam Brownback, the leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table told the administration its drastric cuts to refugee admissions could be undermining its pledge to protect religious freedom worldwide. 

Read more from Huffington Post>>

Making Sense of Missouri

August 9, 2018 

Making Sense of Missouri: “Democrats may have scored their most definitive win of Donald Trump’s presidency on Tuesday, as unions routed Republicans in a Missouri ballot measure battle that showed shocking strength from organized labor,” Politico’s Ian Kullgren reports.

“Unions crushed the state’s so-called right-to-work law, overwhelming conservative opponents by a 2-to-1 margin after running a deep-pocketed campaign,” Kullgren writes. “The outcome signals that unions still have paths to victory in red-leaning states — and provides a new playbook for fighting the policies of Republican-controlled state governments.”

Read more from Politico>>

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