Discussing the proper response of Christians to the issue of immigration, the conference’s goal was to seek a bipartisan solution by bringing together views of both conservative and progressive Christians. Photo credit: Scott Huck/Cedarville University
by Public Relations
November 1, 2011
Cedarville University welcomed over 200 guests and 1,100 of its own faculty, staff and students at the G92 Immigration Conference held October 20-22. Discussing the proper response of Christians to the issue of immigration, the conference’s goal was to seek a bipartisan solution by bringing together views of both conservative and progressive Christians.
G92 refers to the 92 times that the Hebrew word “ger” appears in Scripture. The word translates into stranger, alien or sojourner.
Each session began with a time of worship led by Cedarville University’s OneVoice Gospel Choir. Over 11 renowned evangelicals spoke at the conference, bringing a wide variety of views and perspectives on immigration.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, stated that evangelicals are called to be involved in culture.
“We have the responsibility to meet the needs of men, women and children today and to respect the dignity and value of every individual,” Land said.
Land stated that Christians must live their lives governed by five core spiritual values: neighborly love, compassion, dignity, meeting the needs of others and treating others as one would want to be treated.
Land also reminded the audience of the government’s authority that was ordained and established by God as seen in Romans 13.
“Our government has constitutional and covenantal responsibility to its people to reward those who do right, to punish those who do wrong and to provide security,” Land said.
Jim Wallis, president of the social-justice group Sojourners, fell on the other side of the issue, placing more emphasis on compassion and reform of a broken system.
“Twelve million people are caught in a system that we created,” Wallis said, speaking of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Wallis also brought up the issue of morality, stating that “enforcement of breaking up families is in direct violation of the morals and values that Christians hold about family.”
Shane Claiborne, founder of The Simple Way and author of “The Irresistible Revolution,” expressed his concern over the fact that “we [evangelicals] are so good at excluding the people who are so special to God, who are magnetized to Jesus.”
Claiborne encouraged Christians to stop being judgmental and instead to start loving others, loving immigrants and using every opportunity to bring others to Christ.
“Too often we become more known for what we hate than for what we love, for what we exclude than for what we embrace,” Claiborne said. “I don’t know about you, but I want to be known by my love.”
Carlos Campo, president of Regent University, opened the conference by stating that “we’re not here to convince anyone of anything. We want you to go to the Lord in prayer and decide your position yourself.”
The event influenced many of its attendees, causing them to reevaluate their own views on the issue of immigration.
“The most important thing I took away from the event was a compassion for and a new perspective on illegal immigrants,” said Faith Cook, a junior biology major at Cedarville. “As a result of the conference, my views have shifted toward being more compassionate to immigrants while still maintaining justice.”
“It was sobering to hear and see the faces that came to give their story of suffering and challenges of being an undocumented resident of the United States,” said Candace McHand, a junior social work student at Cedarville. “These are real people with real families, not just a statistic.”
Carl Ruby, vice president of student life at Cedarville, said that he believes the immigration issue is one of the major civil rights issues for this generation.
“I don’t want us to look back 30 years from now and wonder why the body of Christ was silent or why the people of Christ didn’t lead the way in providing effective solutions,” Ruby said.
Echoing the message of many of the speakers, Ruby encouraged listeners to love and reach out to immigrants.
“This is a discussion that impacts real people who are loved by God,” Ruby said. “This discussion isn’t just about politics or economics. It’s about people, some of whom are our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Cedarville University attracts 3,300 undergraduate, graduate and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at www.cedarville.edu.
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