TRAVELERS REST, S.C. (BP) -- As support for immigration reform continues to grow among Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians, Frank Page said in a recent speech that the U.S. stands "at a crossroad of opportunity" for dealing justly with the nation's undocumented immigrants.
Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, spoke at a "New American Generation Conference" at North Greenville University's Turner Chapel. Alberto Gonzales, who served as attorney general under President George W. Bush, was keynote speaker for the event.
Page shared his thoughts on immigration reform with a story by Billy Graham, a glimpse at Micah 6:8, and a reminder of King David's example.
President John F. Kennedy once told Graham he needed to talk with him in person, but Graham wasn't feeling well and told the president he couldn't make it. Three weeks later, Kennedy was assassinated. Graham has said he regrets his decision to this day because it was an irrecoverable moment.
"There are times for nations when these moments come," Page said of the issue of immigration reform. "Our nation is at a crossroad of opportunity."
Page quoted Micah 6:8: "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
Said Page, "This should be our platform for immigration reform."
The Southern Baptist Convention must do a better job of reaching ethnic groups, Page added. "I want to see their involvement in all areas of convention life," he said. "We must do rightly and act justly."
Loving mercy is essential for immigration reform, Page said. As David showed mercy to Mephibosheth, the crippled grandson of King Saul, so reform must involve the rule of law while at the same time establish policies based on laws that demonstrate mercy, he said.
Finally, Page said immigration reform must include humbly walking before God. David made big mistakes, but his repentance was great as well, Page said.
"Humility calls for kindness," he added. "While some didn't agree with the messenger-approved 2011 SBC resolution on immigration, we must deal with each other with a humble spirit."
Southern Baptist Convention messengers in 2011 approved a resolution on immigration reform that called for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus while pursuing justice and compassion. The measure urged the government to make a priority of border security and holding businesses accountable in their hiring. It also requested that public officials establish, after securing the borders, "a just and compassionate path to legal status, with appropriate restitutionary measures, for those undocumented immigrants already living in our country." It specified that the resolution was not to be interpreted as supporting amnesty.
Gonzales told the audience he is a "champion for immigration reform because the right policy will help with security and our economy. Diversity is one of the great strengths of the United States."
Gonzales also credited the "Gang of 8" senators for addressing the issue of immigration reform.
Martin Wiles writes for the Baptist Courier, newspaper of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, online at http://www.baptistcourier.com
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