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Max Lucado, Beth Moore, and Hundreds of Evangelicals Call for Immigration Reform … Again

This time last year, just weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, evangelical leaders spoke out in an unprecedented way against his temporary refugee ban with hundreds signing on to an open letter published in the Washington Post.

Rallied by World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the group took out another full-page ad in the newspaper to bring up multiple concerns related to immigration policy in 2018. (The ad appears at the end of this post.)

Yet again, the list contains both vocal advocates as well as pastors not typically known for speaking out on political matters, topped by influential voices like pastor and devotional author Max Lucado, Bible teacher Beth Moore, and Village Church pastor Matt Chandler.

“As Christian leaders, we have a commitment to caring for the vulnerable in our churches while also supporting just, compassionate and welcoming policies toward refugees and other immigrants,” the letter opens, going on to request legal protection for the Dreamers who entered the US as children, an increase in the admittance of refugees and persecuted Christians, and quicker priority for immigrants seeking to reunite with their families.

Also listed among the hundred-plus initial signatories are Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp, Willow Creek’s Bill and Lynne Hybels, and Christianity Today president Harold Smith. More than 1,300 Christian supporters have signed the letter online.

“We believe we represent a convergence of evangelical belief that care for [refugees] is a central part of our Christian faith,” said Jenny Yang, the vice president of advocacy and policy at World Relief.

As CT reported last month, when several Trump faith advisers met with Nancy Pelosi, evangelicals are mostly eager to find a solution for the young immigrants once protected from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:

Nearly 70 percent of evangelicals believe Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the country, with 49 percent supporting a path to citizenship and 20 percent believing they should become legal residents but not citizens, Politico/Morning Consult found. (Overall, 75 percent of registered voters want the Dreamers to stay.)

“Our prayer is that these young people would be allowed to continue contributing to our society without fear of deportation,” the February 7 letter stated.

The DACA phase-out begins in just less than a month, leaving advocates to push for a Congressional fix before then. Among the 700,000 or so Dreamers are plenty of young church leaders, students at Christian colleges, and even members of World Relief’s own staff.

“This is a unique moment that we’re standing in. There’s a deadline and a requirement to act on a certain issue,” said Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, an evangelical who spoke to some of the letter’s signatories at a press conference in Washington on Wednesday.

“What I’m encouraging my colleagues to do is not stop the work… For these families that are waiting for the moment, they need to know what is the decision and what is the law.”

Fellow legislator Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine, referred to the ongoing debate over immigration in Congress as “a unique opportunity for us to carry out our moral and ethical responsibilities at the same time as we carry out our legal and political responsibilities.” He told evangelical leaders, “If there was ever a time for prayer it’s in the next 24 hours.”

Evangelicals have been speaking up for Dreamers in particular since the fall. Dozens of evangelical and Southern Baptist leaders gathered by Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) president Russell Moore signed onto a statement including positions like:

  • “We believe it is unjust to punish children for offenses they did not commit.”
  • “We believe we should welcome Dreamers of good moral character and who are working hard to contribute to our country.”
  • “We believe our government should provide a pathway to permanent legal status and/or citizenship for eligible Dreamers.”

Moore repeated his concern for this group of young immigrants on Wednesday, saying, “As Christians, dreamers are not some abstract category for us. Dreamers are teaching Sunday school … Dreamers are leading churches. When we see Dreamers in jeopardy, we see all of us in jeopardy.”

Shirley V. Hoogstra spoke as president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).

“We love our DACA students. These students are courageous, they are brave, and they are resilient,” she said. “These students deserve an opportunity to pursue an education without fear of deportation.”

Today’s letter also provided an update on the flow of refugees into the US, which fell from 96,874 in 2016 to 33,368 in 2017.

The number of Christian refugees from Iraq, Iran, and Syria—which have long rankedamong the top countries for Christian persecution—has dropped by 60 percent over that period. (Last year, Pew Research Center found that Christians still outpace Muslims—or any other religion—among refugees to the US.)

“Over the past decade, more of those admitted to the US have been Christians than those of any other faith background, so the dramatic reduction in refugee arrivals this year means far fewer persecuted Christians will have the opportunity to rebuild their lives in safety in the US,” World Relief president Scott Arbeiter said last summer.

Based on the arrivals so far, 2018 is on track to bring in the lowest number of refugees since the resettlement program was formalized in 1980.

“This, at a time when there are more refugees in the world than ever before in recorded history,” the letter said. “Our prayer is that the U.S. would continue to be a beacon of hope for those fleeing persecution.”

The cap for the 2018 fiscal year, as established by the Trump administration, is 45,000, and some predict arrivals won’t even make it close to that. Last year, refugee resettlement agencies reached the 50,000 cap in mid-July, a couple months before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

Anticipating the drop, World Relief closed five offices and laid off 140 staff members in the wake of last year’s refugee ban, which ended up disputed back and forth in the courts. The organization has not been forced to make further cuts since.

The organization’s director of church mobilization, Matthew Soerens, wrote last week in The New York Times:

The past year has been a disaster for refugees and for those of us who are deeply concerned — many because of the convictions of our faith — with their well-being. But, because of my Christian faith, I also believe that people can repent, turning from a wrong direction and moving in the right way.

It’s not too late for our leaders to examine the facts, apply the values of the faith traditions that inspire many Americans’ concern for refugees, and change course.

As the Trump administration has shifted policies on undocumented immigrants and individuals with temporary protected status (TPS), putting more individuals at risk of deportation, Christians have quickly brought up the dilemma of mixed-status families, whose children are US citizens but parents are not.

Last year, World Relief and other agencies saw a spike in inquiries from Christian immigrants concerned about their status and worried about themselves or family members getting deported. CT reported:

Half of all Latino Christians living in the United States are worried that either they or someone close to them will be deported, the Pew Research Center found. This includes 1 in 3 of those born in the US (including Puerto Rico).

Among Latino Christians, the concerns are highest among green card holders (71% worry about deportation) and undocumented immigrants (68% worry). Even among Hispanic Christians who were born outside of America but have become US citizens, more than half (55%) fear deportation for themselves or someone close to them.

The letter also asks politicians to consider families waiting for reunification, such as refugees or other immigrants applying to enter the US to be with their spouses, parents, or kids.

“God ordained the family as the cornerstone of society, and we believe that our country is stronger when our citizens can be quickly reunited with their close family members,” it said. “For some U.S. citizens, the waiting period can be years or even decades. We pray you will respect the unity of the family.”

Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and an adviser to President Trump, has repeatedly pled for policies that allow families to stay together.

Moore’s statement in October also included the line: “We believe a just government works to maintain the integrity of families.”

CT has recently reported on a ruling on behalf of Indonesian Christians in New Englandwho face deportation, the impact of the end of TPS protections on Salvadoran Christians in the US, and the nomination of an evangelical leader to serve as the next director general of the United Nations’s International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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Praying, Pleading, for Consensus That Protects Dreamers

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” the Bible tells us. Regrettably, Dreamers throughout the country have lived that experience repeatedly in recent months.

By Rev. Samuel Rodriguez And Abigail Molina

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” the Bible tells us.

Regrettably, Dreamers throughout the country have lived that experience repeatedly in recent months and in new ways in recent days. The creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 was life-changing for hundreds of thousands of young people—but the announcement of its termination last September meant, barring legislative intervention, that they would lose their jobs and potentially even face deportation. Reports of a bipartisan “deal” gave us new hope—only for it to be dashed within hours. We’re fervently praying that our elected officials will come together quickly to find consensus.

We write, respectively, as the leader of a network of more than forty thousand Hispanic evangelical congregations and as a staff member at one of those local churches—World Impact Center – Impacto de Fe in Commerce City, Colorado—whose employment is possible only because of the DACA program.

My (Abigail’s) story is similar in many ways to those of tens of thousands of others within churches that are represented by the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). I arrived in the U.S. on a tourist visa with my family on July 4, 1999. I thought the fireworks were there to welcome us to our new home. But when my family overstayed their visas—a concept I could not understand as a small child—and became undocumented, our life was very challenging. When my friends were applying for driver’s licenses, I discovered I could not. Though I was a strong student, I was ineligible for federal financial aid or for in-state tuition rates, so I could only afford to attend college part-time.

My family and I found strength in our local church, though, and I genuinely believe it came as an answer to the prayers of many in that church and in churches throughout the country that the DACA program came about, allowing me to work lawfully, pay my taxes, pay my way through college, and give back, serving on the staff of a local elementary school and now at my church. I am so incredibly grateful for this country and the many blessings it has offered to me, and I desperately want to be able to continue to contribute. But, without congressional action, I will lose my work authorization next year—a message I conveyed to legislators as I joined a delegation of other Christian Dreamers in Washington, D.C. recently.

I (Samuel) meet young people like Abigail on a regular basis in my role with the NHCLC and within the church that I pastor in Sacramento, California. They want nothing more than to continue to live, work, and contribute, using the gifts that God has given each of them to their fullest potential. Their churches are standing with them in pleading with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to come together to pass legislation.

But it’s not just Latino Christians who care about this: a  poll last fall found that more than 70 percent of evangelical Christians of all ethnicities support legislation to allow Dreamers to stay in the U.S. and keep their jobs. More than 60 percent of those who voted for President Trump want these individuals to be able to become U.S. citizens, according to a  Fox News poll. By roughly an eight-to-one margin, a recent  Quinnipiac University poll found, Americans prefer allowing Dreamers to stay to their deportation.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” the author of Proverbs continues, “but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Members of Congress from both parties can come together quickly to resolve their differences, and President Trump can have the opportunity to do something none of his predecessors have been able to do: offer real, permanent hope to young people who are Americans in every way except on paper. In doing so, we promise that they will bear fruit, giving back many times over to this great country.

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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Issues Statement Reacting to Leaked Comments from Closed-Door Immigration Meeting

“Every single person is created in the image of God. Without exception.”

 —Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, issues the following statement:

“Every single person is created in the image of God. Without exception. Therefore, as it pertains to immigration, we must provide a legal avenue, with rigorous vetting, that enables individuals from both Norway and Nigeria, from Holland and Haiti, to come to our nation if they embrace our values, commit to self-reliance and to enriching our collective American experience.

“In addition, and with great due deference, I believe that the comments attributed to our president can best be described as wrong, inappropriate, and hurtful. Why? Because when God looks at these nations, He sees His children.”

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Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Reacts to DACA Decision

Hispanic  Christians  to Launch  National  60-DayCampaign in  Support  of DREAMers,  Will  Put “Unrelenting  Pressure” on Members  of  Congress  Until “Every  DREAMer  can Dream Again”

“We  do  not  intend  on  letting  a  single member  of  Congress  have  a  good night’s  rest  until  they  guarantee  our young  people  can  rest  easy.” Rev. Samuel  Rodriguez

SACRAMENTO,  Calif.  —  Today, in  light  of  the White  House’s  decision on DACA,  the  National Hispanic  Christian  Leadership  Conference  and  its affiliate  churches  and  organizations, announces  a national  campaign  intent  on  putting  “unrelenting pressure”  on  “every”  member  of Congress  until  a permanent,  legislative  solution  is  provided  for “DREAMers.”

“Hundreds-of-thousands  of  Hispanic  young  people will  be  overcome  with  fear  and  grief today. Simultaneously,  a  multi-ethnic  coalition  of  tens-of-millions  of  law  abiding,  U.S.  citizens  will begin  to  put unrelenting  pressure  on  members  of  Congress  to provide  a  permanent  solution  for DREAMers, whose  fate  is  in  question  by  no  fault  of  their  own,”  said  Rev.  Samuel Rodriguez, President  of  the National Hispanic  Christian  Leadership  Conference.

“For  far  too  long  in  this country,  Hispanic  young people  have  been  the  political  bargaining  chips  of our  powerful politicians.  This  is  an  affront  to  the sanctity  of  life,  it  is  inhumane,  and  the  Hispanic community will  stand  for  it  no  longer.  Our  elected members  of  Congress  have  time  and  again, professed concern  for  the  Hispanic  community  and yet,  have  chosen  to  do  nothing.  We  will  not distinguish between  Republicans  and  Democrats but  between  those  who  stand  for  righteousness  and justice  and  those  who  do  not.”

Among  other  actions,  the  National  Hispanic. Christian  Leadership  Conference  will  be temporarily relocating  additional  staff  to  Washington,  D.C., launching  a  national  media campaign,  rallying  tens-of-thousands  of  the  nation’s  spiritual  leaders, coordinating  weekly meetings  on  Capitol  Hill  and  in State  Capitols.  Additionally,  the  NHCLC  will  be organizing  a “fly-in”  of  hundreds  of  prominent Hispanic  leaders  from  throughout  North  America  for a  prayer meeting  on  the  evening  of  Oct.  30, followed by  a  series  of  Congressional  visits  on Oct.  31.

Of  President  Donald  J.  Trump’s  decision  to  phaseout  DACA, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez  says  the following:

“I  am  disappointed  that  these  protections  are ending  and  I’ve  expressed  that disappointment to the White House directly.  I  also  understand  why they  chose  this course  of  action.  If  the  fate  of  DACA is  any  indication,  then  it  was  only  a  matter  of  time before  DACA  would  face  a  similar  fate  in  the  court sand,  in  fact,  the  entire  program  could be  ceased immediately  by  a  court  order  rather  than  being phased  out.  Thankfully,  It  is the  job  of  Congress  to make  laws,  and  now  the  President  has provided Congress  a  six month  window  to  legislate  a  more permanent  and  legally  defensible  solution  for DREAMers.  Six  months  is  too  long,  we  will  demand action  from  Congress  within  60 days.  We  do  not intend  on  letting  a  single  member  of  Congress  have a  good  night’s  rest until  they  guarantee  our  young people  can  rest  easy.  We  will  not  be  silent  until every DREAMer  can  dream  again.”

The  National  Hispanic  Christian  Leadership Conference  is  a  non-partisan  organization  that  has long  been  numbered  among  the  nation’s  foremost advocates  for  comprehensive  immigration reform.  It is  the  organization’s  official  position  that  it  is primarily  the  responsibility  of  Congress  to address the  nation’s  longstanding  challenges  with immigration  policy.  In  that  capacity  Rev. Samuel Rodriguez  has  worked  with  Democrat  and Republican  majorities  in  Congress  as  well  as with Presidents  George  W.  Bush,  Barack  Obama  and Donald  J.  Trump  in  advocating  for comprehensive immigration  reform.

###

Rev. Samuel  Rodriguez  is  president  of  the  National Hispanic  Christian  Leadership  Conference. He  has been named  by  CNN  and  Fox  News  as  “the  leader  of  the Hispanic  Evangelical  movement”  and  TIME Magazine nominated  him  among  the  100  most  influential  leaders  in America.

The  National  Hispanic  Christian  Leadership  Conference( NHCLC)  is  the  organization  recognized  and identified  by Time  Magazine,  New  York  Times,  The  Wall  Street  Journal, Christianity  Today,  Charisma Magazine,  NBC,  Telemundo, Univision,  Fox  News,  CNN,  and  a  number  of  additional media  outlets, publications,  and  periodicals  as  America’s largest  Hispanic/Latino  Christian  organization  with  40,118 certified  member  churches  in  the  United  States  and  in covenant  relationship  with  ministries  and  churches in  LatinAmerica  and  around  the  world.

 

Website  |  www.nhclc.org Twitter  |  @nhclc

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WATCH: Samuel Rodriguez and Franklin Graham Talk About Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast Speech on “Hannity”

WATCH: Samuel Rodriguez and Franklin Graham Talk About Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast Speech on “Hannity”

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Candidates must put human beings 1st at National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

When the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) gathers in Houston this week, we are united by a simple symbol: a cross. And like that cross, our shared mission is both vertical and horizontal. Vertically, we stand connected to God and His kingdom. Horizontally, to our left and to our right, we stand connected to family, culture, society and community. The members of our 40,000 Hispanic Evangelical churches in the U.S. care deeply about issues that lie along both these planes, issues such as faith, life, family, religious liberty, education and immigration.

I would like to propose something different for prospective candidates vying for a presidential nomination and courting the Hispanic vote or the Evangelical vote: don’t talk about diversity, talk about inclusion. Don’t talk about opting out, talk about opting in. It’s time to remind Americans that we are not only one nation under God, but we are also a nation of liberty and justice for all.

This Wednesday, over 1,000 Hispanic Evangelical pastors at our national convention will have the opportunity to hear from two Republicans who embrace the Christian conservative ethos of the NHCLC — Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee. While there are any number of “wedge” issues that candidates and their campaign supporters use to distinguish themselves from others, where the candidates stand on immigration and education reform will be critical not just to secure the support of the NHCLC but to reach the constituents of the more than 40,000 Evangelical Hispanic churches we represent. What I would like to hear is how candidates plan to reclaim the mantle of compassionate conservatism in which families and faith come first, and political orthodoxy provides a path to success rather than circles of division.

 

Our faith requires us to honor the imago dei in every person, enabling each to fulfill the potential God has given them. This holds true for students as much as adults, which is why I support non-federal high education standards which can be compared across states. Hispanic students graduate high school at a rate 10% lower than their white classmates. So many Hispanics fight to make it to the United States, and to see the education system failing our children is unacceptable.

While everyone seems engulfed in a debate over the semantics of the term Common Core, we need a common sense solution to address the educational disparity in America. The patchwork of academic standards across states has not been adequately preparing high school graduates for career or college. Research shows that 28 to 40% of enrolled college students need at least one remedial course; for a working student struggling to afford tuition, having to pay to learn material he or she should have learned in high school is just wrong. With nearly 40% of U.S. employers saying they have trouble finding workers with the job skills they need, the labor situation is dire.

Schools must be held accountable for the quality of education they provide, and high academic standards which can be compared across states are a key step toward educational equity. High academic benchmarks are the path to a high-quality education; individual district and school curricula are the steps on that path. And the end of the journey is a bright future for all students, where a high school diploma means as much in Ohio as it does in Iowa, Alabama or New Hampshire.

What I find most disappointing is hearing respected leaders reverse themselves because a political poll tells them to do so. We cannot expect to remain the world’s only superpower leading from behind polls. Strong, compassionate leaders understand that it is the right decisions, not the ones made on the altar of political expediency that will benefit our country for the future.

Just as our faith demands that we do better for Hispanic students, justice demands that we reconcile the rule of law with a process that does not tear families apart. Current immigration laws promote unjust working conditions and even human trafficking by making it near-impossible coupled with exorbitant costs to wait for legal means to enter this country.

Immigration reform is quickly becoming one of the most divisive issues our country has seen in generations, and it threatens to tear us apart. Inflammatory rhetoric leading to an “us vs. them” environment gets us nowhere, and does nothing to help the millions of Hispanics who live in fear of selective enforcement that makes a mockery of the law. This is dehumanizing, and denies people the ability to thrive as God wishes us to do.

I pray that the candidates who emerge from the 2016 presidential primaries will model themselves as compassionate leaders who put human beings first and politics a distant runner-up to last place. Common-sense immigration reform that prioritizes families, and education reform that starts with common goals of preparing all students to succeed in college and in the workplace, should be among the first steps taken. As the president of the NHCLC, I look forward to walking alongside a candidate who has the strength to take this path.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC/CONEL) and the Hispanic Evangelical Association.

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How Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are making a play for the Hispanic vote (Wednesday and beyond)

This story has been updated.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will both be making overtures to Hispanic voters Wednesday, speaking to national groups on issues that could increase their appeal within the rapidly growing voting bloc in the 2016 election.

What they will discuss — and how they will discuss it — could provide a preview for the different way in which the two candidates will reach out to Hispanics once the primary season is properly underway.

Fresh off a trip from Puerto Rico, Bush on Wednesday will speak the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in Houston, a gathering of Hispanic evangelicals where “faith, education, immigration, [and] racial reconciliation” will likely feature prominently, according to an event description.

“He’s faith-literate, he knows how to approach faith groups and have a conversation. And he understands how to have a good dialogue,” said Rev. Luis Cortes, the president and CEO of Esperanza, a national network of Hispanic evangelicals.

On the other side of the country, in Washington, Cruz will sit down with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for a question-and-answer-sessions to talk about economic growth and small businesses.

That event comes after USHCC president Javier Palomarez last month expressed dissatisfaction with Cruz for skipping the group’s annual summit, which came on the heels of Cruz’s presidential announcement. The Q&A seems to be (at least in part) an attempt to soothe tensions between the two teams – while giving Cruz chance to make his business-heavy pitch to Latino voters.

“For the senator’s part, his messaging to the Hispanic community will be one of economic growth, prosperity, opportunities for your kids,” said Cruz spokesperson Rick Tyler.

On the stump, Cruz frequently discusses his father’s immigration from Cuba decades ago. But, notably, his event with the chamber will likely not emphasize immigration reform, which Cruz opposes so long as any such legislation gives undocumented immigrants legal status.

“[M]y understanding is that while immigration is an important issue, it’s not polling among the top issues they’re talking about. They really want to talk about economic growth and small business opportunity,” Tyler said.

Despite heavy criticism from conservatives opposed to “amnesty,” Bush has remained committed to supporting an immigration reform plan that would provide legal status to undocumented immigrants, subtly calling attention to it time and again. In Puerto Rico Tuesday, the former Florida governor showed off his Spanish-language skills and spoke sympathetically about his bi-cultural family and the “immigrant experience.”

“Trust me, I know the power of the immigrant experience because I live it each and every day. I know the immigrant experience because I married a beautiful girl from Mexico. My children are bicultural and bilingual,” Bush said, according to the New York Times. Bush’s wife, Columba, was born and raised in Mexico.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who leads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, credits Bush’s rhetoric and work on immigration reform. Immigration “is the Jordan that Republicans must cross in order to step into the promised land of the electorate,” he said in an interview, using a biblical reference to the river the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land.

Rodriguez warned that in the coming year, as Republican presidential candidates talk about immigration reform, “The rhetoric throughout the course of the campaign needs to be very nuanced, very affirming of the Latino community.”

If Bush runs for president, Cortes said, Latinos will be eager to hear what he has to say about education reform and economic growth. But overhauling the nation’s immigration system remains a special, often emotional concern for Latinos.

“If you have a good message on jobs, education and immigration, I can’t see you losing the Hispanic vote,” Cortes said.

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Jeb Bush just made his most direct pitch to evangelicals

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) used some of his boldest religious language yet this year in his speech Wednesday to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in Houston, Texas.

In light of the spiritually laden messages coming from some other Republican presidential contenders, Bush has been comparatively less vocal about his personal faith.

But in his speech of Wednesday, Bush delved into his spiritual journey, calling it “one of the most important times of my life, the conversion to the faith of my wife.”

Bush converted to Catholicism in 1994, after his defeat in the Florida gubernatorial race.

“When I joined the church, like millions before me and millions who will come after me, I discovered in Christ the grace to do the Lord’s work,” he told the crowd, praising the powerful and liberating influence of  “Christian conscience in action.”

“In America today it is important to respect and to protect Christians acting on their faith, not just talking about their faith but there is a constitutional right and more importantly, for a loving society Christians need to have the space to be able to act on their conscience,” he added, comments timed just one day after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutional right of states to ban gay marriage.

Bush switched back and forth between English and Spanish in his remarks to the Texas crowd, that included his parents, former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Gov. Bush admitted he was “very intimated” to speak before the pair.

“The looming presence of my mother will make it hard,” he joked.

Wednesday marked Bush’s second major outreach to the Hispanic community this week.

On Tuesday, he traveled to Puerto Rico for a series of town hall style events and in his remarks on Wednesday, he highlighted the importance of upward mobility for all in the U.S. “no matter where you come for.”

“It doesn’t matter if you have a vowel at the end of your name … every American, every person in this country has the right to rise up.”

Bush also stressed his belief in the need for immigration reform: “we have to fix a broken immigration system and do it in short order.”

“It also means dealing with the 11 million undocumented workers that are here in this country, 11 million people that should come out from the shadows and receive earned legal status. This country does not do well when people lurk in the shadows,” he said, prompting applause.

“This country does spectacularly well when everybody can pursue their God-given abilities.”

At the conclusion of his remarks, Samuel Rodriguez, Jr., head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, took the stage and led the crowd in a prayer for Bush.

“You are a very important person. We do not know what God has for you, it could be something very significant in regard to the nations of our nation only God knows,” Rodriguez told him.

The Republican, who has not formally declared a presidential campaign, will travel to Washington, D.C. for events on Thursday and will be in North Carolina on Friday.

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Hispanic evangelicals give hearty welcome to Jeb

’11 million undocumented in this country who need to come out’

HOUSTON – Accompanied by his famous parents, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush received an enthusiastic welcome Wednesday at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which made it clear he is the leading GOP contender for the Hispanic vote.

“Historically, President George W. Bush had it right on immigration, and I do believe that Jeb Bush’s personal (story) shows he has a strong affinity with Hispanics, understands the context of immigration reform,” the NHCLC’s president, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, told WND prior to Jeb Bush’s speech.

Rodriguez clarified, however, he was not endorsing Bush either personally or on behalf of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

“I do believe Gov. Jeb Bush would be a better candidate to work with for the purpose of finding a solution to the immigration crisis,” he said, nevertheless.

Rodriguez said, however he “would not discard” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

“He is an evangelical with a strong Christian faith, and I have had discussions with Gov. Huckabee on this subject, and he is a very compassionate man,” Rodriguez said.

Huckabee is scheduled to be the group’s dinner speaker Wednesday evening.

“Governors Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee, as well as Sen. Marco Rubio, are the GOP presidential candidates that provide space for a discussion on immigration reform.”

Excluded from Rodriguez’s favorable comments were Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who emphasize border security as a precondition to establishing a path to citizenship in any comprehensive reform legislation.

‘Super honored to speak’

Jeb Bush began his speech to the more than 1,000 assembled Hispanic evangelical leaders speaking in Spanish.

“I am super honored to speak with you today, first, because you represent the new wave of hope for this country, and second, out of respect for speaking here today in the presence of my parents,” he said, according to a WND translation, referring to former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush.

In the 25-minute speech, Bush told how he met his Mexican wife, Columba, and discussed the importance of his conversion to Catholicism. He avoided any mention of his support for the controversial Common Core education standards and addressed border security only in the context of passing comprehensive immigration reform.

“We should have a country in which it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you were born,” Bush told the evangelicals. “Every person in this country should have the right to rise up.

“Let me speak about immigration, because it is a key element of our country’s success,” he said. “We’re a nation of immigrants. This is not the time to abandon something that makes us special and unique. Because of immigration, America has the chance to become young and dynamic again, to be an emerging country again, to be of optimism, believing our future is better than our present.”

But, first, he said, “we have to fix a broken immigration system and do it in short order.”

“That means controlling the border,” he said. “That means making legal immigration easier than illegal immigration.

“But it also means dealing with the 11 million undocumented in this country who need to come out of the shadows and receive earned legal status.”

As WND reported earlier Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, addressing the group Tuesday, singled out Bush from among the GOP presidential hopefuls as the candidate with the most favorable personal and family history on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.

“I’m going to vote for Hillary Clinton for president, because, in the reality of politics, I can’t get elected to Congress as a Republican in the 4th Congressional District of Illinois,” Gutierrez said, responding to a question from WND.

But if Bush wins, he said, he is “going to need me if he wants to get comprehensive immigration reform passed through the Congress.”

“My support might just be the kiss of death for Jeb Bush when conservatives get wind that ‘radical, socialist Gutierrez’ might get together with Jeb Bush, because then there would be open borders in the U.S.,” Gutierrez quipped.

The congressman said he will work with Republicans to “get immigration reform.”

“When I worked with President George W. Bush on comprehensive immigration reform legislation, I applauded him,” the congressman continued.

Gutierrez recalled that George W. Bush sent his Commerce secretaries, first Donald Evans and then Carlos Gutierrez, along with secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to “roam the halls of Congress” and garner support for the immigration bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Gutierrez stressed that U.S. demographics strongly suggest no GOP presidential candidate has any chance of winning the White House in 2016 without getting more than the 22 percent of the Hispanic vote that Mitt Romney got in 2012.

“One million Latinos turn 18 every year and there’s nothing anybody can do about it,” he said. “The GOP can’t forget that 45 million of the 55 million Latinos in the United States are citizens. We vote and we sit in the pews of the nations churches with those who are not citizens, documented and undocumented alike, citizen children in the same families with undocumented parents. We all sit in church together.”

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, or NHCLC, represents an estimated 40,000 evangelical Christian churches in the U.S. This year, the organization has joined CONELA, a Latin American-based organization that serves more than 487,000 Latino churches worldwide.

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April 28 NHCLC/CONELA Hispanic Christian Leadership Convention Focuses on Current Cultural Issues

HOUSTONApril 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)/CONELA today announced a new name – NHCLC/CONEL – and began its annual three-day convention of Latino Evangelical leaders in Houston, during which the following issues were discussed:

Supreme Court Oral Arguments on Same-Sex Marriage, Prayer for Nepal & Baltimore
During the opening session of the Convention, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of NHCLC/CONEL, challenged the hundreds of attendees to earnestly pray for the Supreme Court to uphold the traditional, biblical definition of marriage.

“As we are speaking, something critical is taking place right now at the Supreme Court of the United States,” Rodriguez said. “We could be politically correct and have everyone love us, but there is no such thing as a ‘comfortable Christian.’

“We believe in the biblical message and the spiritual covenant of one man, one woman,” Rodriguez continued. “At the same time, we repudiate all vestiges of homophobia. We open our churches to welcome every person on the planet. We are not a social club; rather, we are called to minister to the suffering and the hurting.”

In addition, Rodriguez led attendees in praying for the individuals in Nepal who were impacted by the April 24, 2015 earthquake as well as the current unrest in Baltimore, Maryland following the death of Freddie Gray.

In a later afternoon session, Dr. Russell Moore, president of The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also addressed the issue of protecting the family and traditional marriage.

“There are some people that would tell us [Christians] that if we want to reach the culture around us, we have to stop talking about the Gospel… the only way that we can reach culture around is with an authentic Gospel,” Moore said. “If we hold to what Scripture teaches, that marriage is between one man and one woman and that marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, they will tell us we are on wrong side of history; but the Christian church started on the wrong side of history.”

Immigration
Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) spoke to the attendees during the evening session, addressing the issue of immigration, specifically protecting innocent children.

“The [immigrant] community is hungry for information, and the only community centers to which they can go is the Church, so I came here to say, ‘Thank you,’ said Gutierrez. “You influence the way people live their lives and navigate the world, and how to raise their families. Speaking for the stranger was not easy for Jesus and it is not easy for you.”

Gutierrez went on to explain his parent’s own journey of immigrating to the United States in 1952.  “My mother came here from Puerto Rico,” he continued. “She came with no job, no clothes and no money, and it was the Church that gave her a coat and a job.”

Prior to Gutierrez’s address at the Convention, Jesse Rincones, executive director of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas, joined him at a press conference and also recognized the Church’s role in caring for immigrants.

“There are things our congregations can do that the government cannot do,” said Rincones. “The government can pass laws and write a check, but it cannot love.”

Pro-Israel Coalition Launch
NHCLC/CONEL officially launched the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC) during today’s convention, which will create the world’s largest and most influential Pro-Israel Latino entity.

HILC’s vision is to build bridges of reconciliation between Jew and Arab, to create a firewall of protection against the persecution of Arab Christians throughout the Middle East, to educate the church about the Christian persecution and to spread the Gospel to the Muslim Arab World.

Mario Bramnick, senior pastor of New Wine Ministries Church in Cooper City, Florida, will serve as President of HILC, working alongside NHCLC/CONEL President Rodriguez.

“This coalition is critical for Hispanics and our nation,” said Bramnick at a press conference announcing HILC. “Those who curse Israelwill be cursed. As biblical believers in the Word of God we must be pro-Israel. The day America turns its back on Israel will be day God’s judgment comes down.”

New Organizational Name

In reference to the new organizational name, NHCLC/CONEL, Dr. Gus Reyes, chief operating officer, explained that “con el,” Spanish for “with him” better reflects the dual mission of NHCLC working with Christ to make an impact around the world.

A full list of sessions and press conferences for April 29 and further media information can be found athttp://alarryross.com/newsroom/nhclc/2015nhclcconvention/.

NHCLC/CONEL is the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization. It serves as a representative voice for the more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals assembled in over 40,000 U.S. churches and another 500,000 congregations spread throughout the Spanish-speaking diaspora. For additional information, visit http://www.nhclc.org.

Logo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120912/CL72800LOGO

 

SOURCE National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

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