Because quotes or statements can often be taken of context in the media, here is my full statement from today’s press conference in DC:
As a pastor, it is neither my calling nor my job to write bills or advocate for laws specifically. It is my call to mobilize people to serve those God has called us to serve.
We are at a time right now when it probably seems like many evangelicals and many evangelical churches are trying to keep immigrants and refugees at an arm’s length. I am here to say that is not true for all evangelicals, and it is certainly not true for all evangelical churches.
It has been a challenge to shepherd our congregation to do the work of Jesus Christ among the nations, especially in the last 18 months. As a church, we are located in the most affluent part of our city. For the most part, we are very homogenized in our “whiteness”. In the last few years, however, we have become home to several international people – immigrants and refugees from all over the world. As we have sought to open up our doors and serve them, we now see people from over 30 different countries in our church building on a weekly basis.
In this last year, the State of Oklahoma has played a prominent role in discussions regarding compassion for immigrants. This has been, in no small part, due to the leadership and courageous voice of Senator James Lankford.
We have been blessed to engage refugees and dreamers and to call them part of our church family.
A handful of pastors like myself have also dared to step out into the fray on behalf of our immigrant neighbors, and at times we have paid a price for it. At the same time, I certainly have not experienced anything comparable to the deep insecurity that our “dreamers” have felt. To be forced to ask questions like: “Will I be able to stay in the only country I have known my whole life? If I do, will I be able to stay in school? Will I be allowed to work legally? Will I have health care? Will I lose my driver’s license? Will my loved ones and I still get to be together?”
Right now, the future of almost 2 million young adults hangs in the balance.
Just this morning, I spoke with an exceptional 25-year old “dreamer” from Peru who has lived in Tulsa for 20 years. She is an incredible young woman. Most of her family already have permanent legal status or are citizens. As things stand right now, she could be separated from her family, and there is nothing they can do for her.
If you want to hear the story of a “dreamer,” you will not have to look far. Many of us know a “dreamer” personally, even if we are not aware of it. They are teenagers and young adults who live in our neighborhoods, attend our schools, play on our child’s ball teams, and even attend our churches. They have been raised by us, and they are part of us. They speak English. They learned to stand and pledge allegiance to our flag. They bolster our economy and bring immense value to our communities. If they are taken from us, we will notice they are gone. And we will grieve.
They have heard about Christ’s compassion; and they are appealing to His followers for help. They have heard that our Bible commands us in dozens of places to seek justice for the immigrant who resides among us. They are asking us to speak out on their behalf.
This is what brings us to our nation’s capital today. I am here as a pastor, not a politician. I, along with others, am calling on members of Congress, and my brothers and sisters in the Church, to speak and act on behalf of the “dreamers” now, before expirations with serious consequences begin next month. The “dreamers” are being used as leverage, and the clock is ticking.
I believe history will judge us on this. If we fail to do right by these young people, our children and grandchildren will ask us why. I choose to not only be on the right side of history on these issues, but more importantly where I believe the Lord would have us be, standing alongside the marginalized and oppressed.
-To watch the entire press conference, visit World Relief on Facebook to see their saved Facebook Live video here.
-To read the letter we published in the Washington Post this morning, find it here: Washington Post Letter_full_page_02062018_final.
-If you are interested in learning more about who the DACA “dreamers” are, and why this is important, you can read more here – https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/us/daca-dreamers-shutdown.html
-For a sobering look at what they are facing, read these FAQ’s put out for the “dreamers” regarding the current situation – https://www.nilc.org/issues/daca/daca-termination-faq/