An overwhelming majority of evangelicals leaders (97 percent) agree that Christians have a responsibility to assist immigrants even if they are here illegally, according to the November/December 2022 Evangelical Leaders Survey. Around 71 percent strongly agree, while 26 percent somewhat agree. This compares with a recent LifeWay Research survey that found 58 percent of evangelicals agree that Christians have a responsibility to assist immigrants, including undocumented immigrants.
“Most evangelicals love and assist immigrants wholeheartedly and without discrimination based on their immigration status,” said Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). “Evangelical leaders also clarified in their responses that ‘assisting immigrants’ does not mean helping them break the law, and where possible we seek to help them achieve their goal of complying with immigration laws.”
For example, Greg Johnson, president of Standing Together, said, “This does not mean that we should have open borders as a country. However, we are strongly compelled by Holy Scripture to aid everyone in their moment of need.”
Many churches are doing just that. Douglas Sauder, lead pastor of Calvary Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, noted the church ministers to immigrants at a nearby transitional detention center. “As we lead weekly Bible studies and groups, our help is often focused on getting people back to their families abroad. Whether here legally or illegally, we feel compelled to serve whoever comes into our city,” he said.
Rich Nathan, founding pastor of Vineyard Columbus, added, “In order to help immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, Vineyard Columbus has offered a variety of programs for the past 15 years, including a nonprofit immigration law clinic, a large ESL program and citizenship classes.”
Scott Arbeiter, president emeritus of World Relief, reasoned that the law of Christ and the law of the land are not mutually exclusive. “Loving our new neighbor as ourselves in their time of need is our calling, even as we support those who set and enforce the immigration laws. We practice compassion while others adjudicate law,” he said.
Shirley Hoogstra, president of Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, summarized, “Regardless of how they arrived — if they need help, we should serve them in Jesus’ name.”
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.