Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Church leaders by the hundreds of thousands have made the pilgrimmage to Willow Creek across the past twenty-five years or so to glean wisdom on church growth and effectiveness from Hybles.
Now Bill and Lynne Hybels participate in Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform as advocates for the millions of immigrants who find themselves in the U. S. without the documentation that they need to function fully and freely.
I find the statement made by the Hybels before Congress both surprising and encouraging.
Here's the beginning of a longer statement:
I, Lynne Hybels, would like to submit this testimony on behalf of myself and my husband, Bill Hybels … Even though the issues of immigration can often be viewed as a political, economic, or security issue, our perspective on immigration has been formed at the community level as local church leaders. In this capacity, we are continually confronted with immigration, not necessarily as a policy issue but as a personal issue in which we witness the human consequences of a broken immigration system every day.
Our faith informs us that we were all strangers and aliens once, separated from God. Because God was willing to include us in his redemptive plan, we “are no longer strangers and aliens, but [we] are fellow citizens” (Ephesians 2:18-19a). As Christians, we accept the biblical perspective that we are all sojourners on this earth, commanded to steward it while we await the full arrival of God’s eternal kingdom. Recognizing that we are all sojourners on this land, no matter what our legal status, compels us to extend solidarity to all. This deep sense of solidarity with others is a foundational truth of our country. We are a nation with historical roots grounded in immigration: out of necessity, many of our ancestors came to this country, and then found a home here.
This perspective can help inform our current perspectives on immigration. Remembering our own history as immigrants, we must take God seriously when, in Scripture, he repeatedly calls on his people to remember their past as sojourners and to treat the aliens among them accordingly. “The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33-34). Throughout the Old Testament, God repeats the command to love the alien just as he himself does (Deuteronomy 10:18), and makes clear his desire for us to emulate his special concern for the foreign-born who, along with orphans and widows, are recognized as particularly vulnerable (Psalm 146:9, Zechariah 7:10).
To read the entire statement click here and follow links to all of the material.
Bravo, Hybels! Bravo!
While you're at it, take a look at the editorial comment that appeared in The New York Times last Sunday, October 11, 2009 by clicking here.