Twelve years ago, I proudly lived and served as the resident director in Edgren Hall, the residence hall named after the founder of Bethel University — John Alexis Edgren. Edgren grew up in Karlstad, Sweden, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1862. Today, I live in south Minneapolis where many of my neighbors grew up in Axochiapan, Mexico, and immigrated to the U.S. in the last 15 to 20 years. On rare and sweet occasions, my “home” life merges with my “Bethel” life. This week is one of moments. Bethel is proud to host a G92 Immigration Gathering on April 12, 2013. The event’s goal is to promote a high-level conversation about immigration reform in a way that honors the example of Jesus Christ. We are reaching back to our institutional roots (having been founded by an immigrant) and our biblical roots (our Savior Jesus having identified himself with the poor, the marginalized, the immigrant).
As with many initiatives at Bethel, this event would not have happened without a passionate donor and the energy and passion of our students—many of whom attended the first G92 Conference at Cedarville University in October 2011. Taking its name from the 92 references to the ger — the immigrant, in Hebrew — in the Old Testament, G92 has now grown into a national student movement that seeks to understand and respond to the challenges and opportunities of immigration in ways consistent with biblical values of justice, compassion and hospitality. Those students were lit on fire for immigration reform—and now they have brought G92 to Bethel.
This week’s conference at Bethel will include presentations by national, local, and Bethel leaders pursuing biblical action on issues related to immigration. The keynote address will be delivered on Friday night by Dr. Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals and Senior Pastor Emeritus of Wooddale Church (Edina, MN). Program contributors include Matthew Soerens, U.S. Church Training Specialist for World Relief; Colleen Beebe Purisaca, Co-International Director of Peace and Hope International whose US headquarters are in Minneapolis; Dr. Leon Rodrigues, Chief Diversity Officer at Bethel University; Dave Muhovich, Associate Professor of Nursing at Bethel University.
The conference is seeking a bipartisan solution that adheres to the objectives outlined in the “Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform,” including elements such as respecting “the God-given dignity of every person” and guaranteeing “secure national borders.” This statement has been signed by dozens of evangelical leaders (including our very own President Dr. Jay Barnes!). The Bethel G92 Immigration Gathering will keep Jesus and His word at the center of our discussion. We are committed to transcending partisan sound-bites and modeling an exceptionally high level of civility as we think carefully about an issue that is both complicated and important. Our desire is to equip a new generation of leaders to respond to this issue in a way that exalts Jesus Christ and draws people from every nation to Him
The conference held at Bethel University on April 12 is free to participants. For more information, visit http://cas.bethel.edu/campus-ministries/events/g92-immigration-gathering.
Matt Runion is the associate campus pastor at Bethel University.
Please note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of everyone associated with G92, or any institutions with which the blogger may be affiliated.
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