Jeff Haanen

Update: This last week, the small group curriculum for this immigration video series was released. This .pdf is a great resource to go along with videos, and is structured around facilitating a small group discussion. Feel free to use and share as needed. Here it is. 

Today I travel to Washington D.C. My friend Michelle Warren, with the Evangelical Immigration Table, is flying several of us from Colorado to the capitol to meet with Congressman about immigration reform.

Because of budget battles, immigration reform is long overdue. The US hasn’t updated its immigration laws for almost a generation, and the situation has become dire. But the right solution has evaded many. Should there be a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants? How about immigrants should we admit on family visas, high skilled visas, low skilled visas? These are all foundational questions, but for me, the most important starting point is: What does my Christian faith have to say about immigrants and immigration?

Last Spring I helped to organize a conference on the topic of immigration, and we now have a set of 5 videos that were produced by both Phil Mildren at Denver Media House and the Evangelical Immigration Forum. In my opinion, they might be the best video introduction to the topic of immigration for anybody with honest questions. Who are immigrants? Why do so many come illegally? Aren’t they a drain on the economy? Doesn’t the Bible tell us to obey the laws of the land?

I’ve included videos that answer many of these questions, along with their descriptions. They’re perfect for discussion in a church small group or even with your family. The five titles are “Stepping Into the Story of an Immigrant”, “Migration as a Metaphor for the Christian Life: What Does the Bible Have to Say?” “Immigration as an Opportunity for the American Church; What does the American Church Need to Know?”, “Stephan Bauman, God’s Heart for the Vulnerable; 10 Reasons Why Immigration is Good” and “Answering Some Frequently Asked Questions About Immigration.” For the conference, we had top flight speakers, including Dr. Daniel Carroll, Professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary, Stephan Bauman, CEO of World Relief, and Dr. Carlos Campo, former President of Regent University.

If you have time, watch one or two this week. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

(Side note: to some this will seem like an aside from my main topic on this blog: the integration of faith and work. But I suppose this depends how you look at it: millions of immigrants have exercised the deepest levels of faith on their journey to the US. Others are employers who are simply looking for enough hands to pick grapes, clean rooms, and cook dinners. Ironically enough, the current immigration crisis has been caused by a combination of demand for labor and a political system that hasn’t adjusted to current needs. So, is this an aside from conversations about the integration of faith and work? Well, not for most of my Latino friends.)

Listening to the stories of immigrants strengthens one’s ability to engage in the immigration conversation on a more personal level. This video segment is designed to explore a few of the millions of stories behind the issue of immigration getting beyond the strident and divisive tones of the national debate.

In this segment, Dr. Daniel Carroll R. encourages Christians to “let the Bible orient us so that we can capture the heart of the metaphor of being a migrant and as we do that, to capture the heart of what it means to be a Christian.” Highlighting the Old Testament stories of Abraham, Joseph, Ruth and Daniel to reveal God’s heart for the foreigner, Dr. Carroll helps listeners understand why people migrate and how they assimilate. He reminds Christians about their responsibility to care for the vulnerable, encourages them to start with scripture when approaching the immigration issue, refuse to oversimplify the discussion, and to pray that God would use the church to be a voice for compassion, truth, and order — for the good of the immigrant and for our country.

In this segment, Matthew Soerens of World Relief highlights ways in which Evangelicals in the United States can take a fresh, biblically grounded look at the immigration debate and engage with immigrants in their communities. As Christians we have responsibility to both love and provide for the widow, orphan, immigrant, and the poor. Citing research from Pew, personal experience, the Founding Fathers, and scripture, Matthew exhorts listeners to see immigrants as an opportunity and blessing — for our communities, our country, and for the Gospel.

In this segment, World Relief CEO Stephan Bauman shares ten reasons why Christians must welcome the stranger. Beginning with a reminder of God’s heart for the vulnerable, he encourages Christians to act on behalf of the less fortunate neighbor while touching on economic considerations, justice, American values, and God’s presence. Viewers are ultimately reminded of Jesus’ words that “whatever we do for the least of these you do for me.”

This video segment helps answer some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding immigration in our country today.

The videos in this series were recorded at the G92 Conference on April 26-27 2013, hosted by Front Range Christian School in Littleton, Colorado. G92 is a culture-shaping movement seeking to equip and inspire the next generation of Christian leaders for an effective, biblical response to immigration.

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