Immigration is a thorny issue. Christians are torn between the desire to uphold the laws and the call to minister to the vulnerable. Citing history, personal stories, and statistics, world relief activists Soerens and Hwang confront us with the current system's inadequacies, suggesting a number of concrete ways to overcome them. 192 pages, softcover. InterVarsity.
Immigration is one of the most complicated issues of our time. Voices on all sides argue strongly for action and change. Christians find themselves torn between the desire to uphold laws and the call to minister to the vulnerable. In this book World Relief staffers Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang move beyond the rhetoric to offer a Christian response to immigration. They put a human face on the issue and tell stories of immigrants' experiences in and out of the system. With careful historical understanding and thoughtful policy analysis, they debunk myths and misconceptions about immigration and show the limitations of the current immigration system. Ultimately they point toward immigration reform that is compassionate, sensible and just, as they offer concrete ways for you and your church to welcome and minister to your immigrant neighbors.
Matthew Soerens serves as the US Church Training Specialist for World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. In that role, he helps local churches and denominations to address issues of immigration from a distinctly biblical perspective. Previously, Matthew served as a Board of Immigration Appeals-accredited legal counselor with World Relief's local office in Wheaton, Illinois.
Jenny Hwang Yang is vice president of advocacy and policy for the refugee and immigration program of World Relief in Baltimore, Maryland.
Leith Anderson (D.Min, Fuller Theological Seminary) is senior pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He is the author of eight books including and . He is the president of the U. S. National Association of Evangelicals.
"While Sorens and Hwang may not answer all your questions about the correct response to current immigration policies and, indeed, may even raise more complex questions, they do show us that, if we are to act justly, we will have to consider all its complexities."
"The authors have done a masterful job pulling together the most compelling data and information on immigration and explaining it. This is the only book a Bible-believing person needs to read to understand the importance of immigration reform."
" Welcoming the Stranger offers an introduction to the many aspects of immigration and the controversies surrounding it."
"Every Christian leader seeking an informed, biblical response to this urgent issue should read this book."
"Biblical, urgent, readable. An excellent introduction to this complex moral issue. All thinking evangelicals should read it."
"Thinking of immigration policy requires that we think first about the kingdom of God--God's rule and reign; his plan, will, agenda and story. Only then will we be able to think well through the secondary lenses of nation-states, tribes and ethnicities. The parable of the good Samaritan, while easy to understand, has fallen victim to global, political and economic complexities. Welcoming the Stranger, without being simplistic, clears our thoughts and lights a way forward to love and serve twelve million undocumented neighbors."
"A daring and desperate call to remember the story of God that begins with baby Moses being floated down a river in the middle of Pharaoh's genocide and climaxes with God's Son entering the world as a homeless refugee in the middle of Herod's bloodshed. It is a story of immigrants and strangers. This book invites us to participate in the radical inclusion and grace of God. Welcoming the Stranger is written with the urgent sense that we cannot wait for politicians to tell us how to treat immigrants but we simply need to pick up the Bible and reimagine what it means to be the people of God. Here is a reminder that as a people of rebirth our love does not stop at the borders of nations."
" Welcoming the Stranger is a great primer on immigration for the church. It is a historical, current, biblical and theological resource for the person who is trying to understand immigration issues today."
" Welcoming the Stranger is a must-read for one who desires to take a fresh biblical look at the issue of immigration in the U.S. I believe this is the compassion and justice issue of our day, and we need to do careful work so we are accurate and biblical in our solutions. I wholeheartedly endorse Jenny and Matt's wonderful work and commend it to you for your study."
"Immigration stands as the metric of whether or not America embraces social justice in the twenty-first century. In Welcoming the Stranger Jenny Hwang and Matt Soerens contextualize the narrative of an issue that requires analysis and discussion not from the extremes of political ideology but rather from a platform of truth, justice and compassion. Jenny and Matt equip us with the necessary acumen to reconcile Romans 13, the rule of law, with Leviticus 19, treating the alien as one of our own. Accordingly, the universal Christian symbol is the cross. The cross is both vertical and horizontal, redemption and transformation, conviction and compassion. This book will challenge us to meet at the point of convergence, the great intersect, where John 3:16 meets Luke 4, immigration via a biblical worldview."
"Finally, a book on the immigration challenge that combines head and heart! Soerens and Hwang have experienced both the frustrations and the hopes that come with caring about people in difficult circumstances. This book is deeply personal in a way that helps us all be compassionate, yet it does not dumb down the challenge we all face with our natural propensity for shallow platitudes and partisan politicking. This book helps us find our way as Americans and as Christians to understanding the real issues, and it will help us shape a comprehensive public policy direction that honors both law and love."
"Drawing from their experience in the trenches, Soerens and Hwang challenge their readers to move beyond the all-too-contentious and simplistic debate and think critically and biblically about what it means to love our immigrant neighbors. Clearly written and theologically informed, Welcoming the Stranger combines evocative stories of real people and the complexities of their lives with lucid explanations of immigration policy. Soerens and Hwang's book offers balanced yet impassioned analysis that is so rare but so essential to help Christians bring their faith to bear on this vexing policy issue."
"Justice, compassion and truth are too often missing from the immigration debate in this country. Welcoming the Stranger provides all three with comprehensive information on every aspect of the current problem, its roots and commonsense solutions. Every Christian seeking an informed response to this critical issue should read this book."
" Welcoming the Stranger lays the groundwork for and practically equips Christians to continue practicing what it means to follow Christ's commandment to love God and love neighbor in a fallen world."
"Immigration is one of the most pressing issues facing our country today. Some twelve million undocumented immigrants live among us, but their lives are largely in the shadows. They are our neighbors and we are theirs. The ethical challenges that face us all are numerous in the legal, economic, educational and health areas. What would God have us do regarding these new neighbors? Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang have made an invaluable contribution to Christians through their book Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate. With great precision and fairness, they lead us through the difficult and thorny ethical issues of immigration. They provide personal stories and abundant statistics. Most of all, they bring God's Word to challenge us to obey God and to welcome the strangers among us. This book is must-reading for every Christian and every congregation that desires to love the strangers in our midst."
"Here is a book for every Christian and every church leadership team interested in one of the greatest mercy/justice issues of our time: how will the church care for immigrants in our midst? The authors write with sensitivity concerning the volatile emotions on all sides of the debates as they offer essential information designed to help us formulate responses to this very complex issue. Welcoming the Stranger inspired me to expand my heart of compassion and take action."
"Soerens and Hwang argue persuasively that immigration has been and is valuable to the United States."
"Soerens and Hwang advocate a generous, biblically based invitation to all immigrants to take part in America. This book will not persuade all Christians to support liberalized immigration laws, but even the skeptical should find the authors' approach useful."
"Soerens and Hwang have injected justice, compassion, and truth into what needs to become a new conversation on immigration--values that are often in short supply in this debate."
"Soerens and Hwang do an impressive job making a complex and charged issue accessible for the average reader."
"In this highly engaging, well researched and documented book, Soerens and Hwang team up to survey and analyze the history of immigration in the United States and attempt to solve many of the problems that immigration faces through well-reasoned argumentation and personal experience. Most importantly, they do all of this not through the eyes of partisan politics, but rather through the lens of the Christian worldview. Welcoming the Stranger is a timely and important book at a point in America's history where the immigrant population is considerably growing and many Americans seek to 'do something about it.'"
"A fresh, compelling call from Scripture to live out the gospel with boldness and courage in the twenty-first century. A significant pivotal guide for the church in these times."
"In the next forty years there will be an estimated 132 million Latinos in this nation, and a critical concern for our community is fixing our broken immigration system. Welcoming the Stranger is a must-read that helps us to embrace a biblical response to this critical issue."
Author: Matthew Soerens
Located in: Wheaton, Illinois
Submitted: December 21, 2008
Tell us a little about yourself. I work as an immigration counselor at World Relief DuPage in Wheaton, Illinois. I'm a graduate of Wheaton College and a member at Church of the Resurrection in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Prior to my current work, I worked with World Relief's local affiliate in Nicaragua. I'm originally from Neenah, Wisconsin.
What was your motivation behind this project? In my work as an immigration counselor, I spend most of my days explaining to immigrants and refugees what their options are under immigration law. I also spend a good number of Sundays in front of Sunday School classes, trying to integrate my Christian faith with the immigration 'problem' and to help others do so as well. In the process, I've found that there is a lot of confusion, misinformation, and frustration with the immigration issue. This book, written in collaboration with my colleague Jenny Hwang, aims to help Christians integrate their faith with this pressing issue.
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? I hope that folks will combine a biblical worldview with an accurate understanding of the current immigration situation in our country, and then respond, prayerfully and in obedience to God's call as revealed in the Scriptures, with justice, compassion, and Christ-like love for our immigrant neighbors.
How were you personally impacted by working on this project? This book was really the fruit of our own personal questions of how, as Christians, we should engage with our immigrant neighbors and with the larger, structural questions of immigration policy.
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? I lived in Central America for an extended period of time a few years back, and while there I was welcomed into two different families and their respective churches. They have taught me much about authentic Christian hospitality; much of the inspiration for this book has come out of wondering how my own culture and society could emulate this hospitality.