Study Committee on Immigration [2015]

Report of the Study Committee on Immigration

EDITOR’S NOTE: The findings of this report resulted in Conference adding a statement on Immigration to the Biblical Principles for Living.

FIRST READING – 2015 Yes – 136; No – 11 Minutes
SECOND READING – 2016 Yes – 113; No – 1 Minutes

The committee met five (5) times in 2014. We appreciate the opportunity that we have had to serve in this task.

At the 130th BFC Conference, it was Resolved, “That the Moderator of the 130th BFC Conference appoint two study committees to study the following issues and review pertinent statements of the Biblical Principles for Living after completing their study.” One of the committees was Immigration, which was tasked with exploring these two questions:

a. What does the Bible teach about the Church’s attitude toward immigrants?

b. What does the Bible teach about the Church’s response to the presence of undocumented immigrants in the United States?

In our report to the 131st BFC Conference, we included these observations:

The study committee has completed its work on the viability of a BPL article on immigration and is in agreement that the study committee should produce such an article because of the following concerns facing the Church:

1.) Myths concerning immigration

2.) The responsibility of the church to strangers and aliens

3.) The unique needs of the undocumented, victims of slavery, and legal refugees

4.) Illegal or undocumented immigrants as leaders or members in the local church

5.) Church and church members providing jobs or financial assistance to undocumented workers

6.) Churches providing sanctuary for undocumented aliens

7.) Aiding in the refugee process as mercy ministry or evangelism

We understand that BPLs, as statements of principles, should be more general and long-lasting. By including a BPL article on immigration, we are underscoring the issue and making a statement as to its importance. There are a number of issues which are impacted by laws which themselves at this point in time are in flux; nevertheless, the study committee believes that enduring principles of a biblical, moral, and ethical nature should be formally stated through the creation of an article on immigration. Conference accepted our report and we understood that to be a mandate to compose a new BPL addressing immigration issues.

Whereas, Bible Fellowship Churches exist in varying geopolitical situations, and

Whereas, in the United States, where the majority of our churches are, there is great flux and redefinition of illegal/undocumented workers, and

Whereas, our greatest allegiance is to be to the Kingdom of God and the furtherance of its work and not to a political entity, and

Whereas, the relocation of those without the gospel to proximity to biblically-based churches provides great opportunities for Gospel outreach, be it

Resolved, that we add the attached article to the BFC BPLs.

Study Committee on Immigration: John Elias, Chairman; Michael D. Roberts, Secretary; Miguel Gonzalez, David E. Gundrum, Cali Magallanes, and Dana E. Weller.

150 – Declarations on Particular Issues

Article 156 – Immigration

156-1 – God has a special love and compassion for the alien—whether an immigrant, stranger, or outsider in our midst.1 He created all human beings in His image, and therefore all people from all cultural backgrounds are sacred.2 Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as a child escaped into Egypt, per God’s instructions.3 Our Savior understands the plight of refugees, who leave hostile conditions.

156-2 – Jesus equated welcoming a stranger with welcoming Him. He gave special attention to people who were not accepted4 and spent time with those on the fringes of society. His mission included bringing good news to the captives, broken-hearted, and oppressed.5 The New Testament writers challenge the church to break down barriers of hostility and to recognize that we too are strangers and aliens.6

156-3 – People migrate for many reasons, including economics, armed conflicts, and family needs. Such migration provides gospel opportunities which might not otherwise exist. The church should seek ways to reach the alien with the good news of Christ and disciple the new believer in a way that will honor the Lord and obey the laws of government.7

156-4 – Christians are to obey the laws of government,8 except in cases where a regulation is in conflict with the law of God.9 Circumstances vary from country to country; however, a believer should attempt to follow the legal process in order to remain in the country. Christian employers should make every effort to comply with the law10 while seeking ways to assist the employee.

156-5 – The church must understand the priority of its heavenly citizenship.11 The church must not allow political issues to surpass her mission of gospel-centered ministry.12 Pastors and church leaders should give biblical counsel to those illegally residing in a country, proclaim the truth, and pray for the Holy Spirit to work in the believer’s life.13 The church should assist believers seeking legal status.

156-6 – Not all are aliens of their own volition. They are victims of human trafficking and slavery, unwillingly working in situations as diverse as the commercial sex trade and child labor. They are found in places as varied as restaurants, factories, brothels, laundries, and sweatshops. The church needs to stand against this evil by praying and advocating for such victims. The church should be ready to minister to them.14

1 Lev. 19:9-10, 24:19-22; Deut. 10:17-19, 14:28-29, 24:17, 26:12-13
2 Gen. 1:26,27; I Cor. 11:7; Jas. 3:9
3 Matt. 2:13-18
4 Matt. 25:31-46; Lk. 17:11-19, 19:1-10
5 Isa. 61:1; Mk. 7:24-30; Lk. 4:18-20
6 Acts 10:28; Eph. 2:11-22
7 Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Heb. 13:1-2
8 Rom. 13:1; Tit. 3:1
9 Acts 5:29
10 I Pet. 2:13-20
11 Phil. 3:20; Tit. 2:14
12 I Cor. 2:2
13 Heb. 4:12; I Pet. 5:1-2
14 Philemon 16

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *