Today, in Washington, D.C., hundreds of evangelicals from across the country gathered to worship, pray and meet with legislators to advocate for immigration reform as part of the Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action for Immigration Reform. The day of action marks approximately 92 days after we launched the “I Was a Stranger” challenge in which we asked individuals, churches, campuses, and legislators to read 40 Scripture passages that relate to immigrants. Over the 92 days, more than 825 churches and ministries in 49 states have participated in the challenge. Through efforts like this, we are seeing not just a shift in evangelical attitudes towards immigrants, but concrete actions to use our voices to advocate for reform.
For years, many in the evangelical community grappled with how to balance compassion and mercy toward immigrants with the rule of law. As pastors and community members built relationships with immigrants, however, they suddenly encountered a broken immigration system in which many cannot get right with the law even though they desire to. Immigration has become not just an abstract political or economic discussion but a personal and moral issue for the evangelical community. It is about friends and real people in our community whom we have come to know in our church services and at our schools. Studies in fact have found that immigration accounts for the fastest—and, in some cases, the only—growth in U.S. evangelicalism today. For evangelicals, immigration reform is not an issue about them, but rather an issue about us.