Thousands of persecuted Christians have emigrated from the Soviet Union during the past year. This unprecedented event presents the evangelical community with the opportunity to welcome fellow believers to America, assist them in their efforts to become naturalized citizens and help them adjust to life in the United States.

For decades, many believers in the Soviet Union have struggled vigorously for permission to leave because of harsh religious persecution. A thaw in relations between the United States and the Soviet Union in recent years is partly responsible for the sudden surge in the number of Christians and other religious minorities who have been allowed to emigrate. Refugee experts predict that perhaps up to 10,000 Christians and 30,000 Jews will leave the Soviet Union in 1989. The majority of Christians in the Soviet Union are prepared to endure whatever hardships occur because of their faith and to remain in their country. A small minority, however have chosen to leave and seek refuge in countries where they can exercise their faith freely. These Christians believe they do not have a place in Soviet society.

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) calls on the evangelical community to provide a generous and enthusiastic response to our brothers and sisters in Christ in their journey to freedom. We who live comfortably in this free society can learn from those who have suffered and endured persecution for the sake of the Gospel.

We call upon our government, as we have in similar situations, to consider the plight of these believers, recognizing that they have a well-grounded fear of further persecution and are thus entitled to refugee status. We also ask that serious consideration be given to increasing the number of refugees that will be allowed to immigrate to America from the Soviet Union.

Moreover, we call upon our individual members, churches and denominations to continue to support the efforts of World Relief Corporation, our international assistance arm, as it responds to meet the needs of believers from the Soviet Union who need to be speedily processed in Western Europe and resettled in the United States.