Guest Blog by: Glen Peterson The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference presented a Champions of Justice Award to Matthew Soerens, co-founder of and US Church Training Specialist with World Relief. He won the award for his groundbreaking and tireless work for immigrants and immigration reform. The award was presented at a special celebratory church service during the week-long board meetings of the NHCLC. The 2,000-seat sanctuary was filled to capacity for the event that was open to the churches in the region. NHCLC President Samuel Rodriguez presented the award to Mr. Soerens along with Richard Land, President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Mat Staver of Liberty University Law School, and Robert Gittelson, Co-Founder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Rodriguez emphasized the important role of non-Hispanic allies in partnership with NHCLC to move forward compassionate immigration reform laws and changing the hearts of the larger body of Christ and American culture. He also focused on the important cultural contributions of the Hispanic community including food, music, and entertainment. More importantly, new immigrants are God’s agents to bring renewal to the churches and to impact the culture for good with compassion and hope. He also spoke of the impact on the body of Christ as Hispanic immigrants continue to make new disciples and fill churches in the United States. “It is fitting NHCLC recognize Matt Soerens of World Relief with the Champions of Justice Award,” comments M. Daniel Carroll R. (Rodas), NHCLC’s national spokesperson on immigration. “Matt is a national leading figure in efforts to educate local churches, denominational leadership, and national spokespersons about the realities of immigration and God’s concern for the strangers among us. Transforming the hearts of Christians on this controversial issue comes slowly and through tireless, but gracious, advocacy. Matt exemplifies the charitable spirit, wisdom, and energy that this process requires.” Dr. Carroll is distinguished professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary and author of Christians at the Border, Immigration, the Church and the Bible (Baker Academic, 2008). It is significant this award was presented at Iglesia en el Camino in Van Nuys, California. “In Southern California, we are so aware of the needs of immigrant congregations and we thank God for the work of Matthew Soerens and World Relief as they stand for the vulnerable,” says Dr. Sergio Navarrete, Superintendent of Southern Pacific District of the Assemblies of God. “Our current immigration system is an antiquated morass of laws which do not make sense either for immigrants themselves or for our nation’s economy, security, and values of liberty and justice for all.  Millions of hard-working families, including many within our local churches, are struggling as a result,” explains Matthew Soerens. “It’s past time to pass immigration reform, and I believe that the Church—Hispanic, Caucasian, African-American, Asian, and everyone else, operating in unity as Christ calls us to—can be instrumental in urging our elected officials to make it happen. Soerens continued, “I’m very honored to receive this award and am grateful for the good work that the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference does in mobilizing Hispanic evangelicals across the United States.  I’m convinced that the issue of immigration is a vital concern for the whole of the evangelical Church in the United States—not just for our Hispanic brothers and sisters, though many of them feel the pain of our broken system most acutely—and that if we respond in unity to the challenges and opportunities of immigration in ways consistent with biblical values of justice and compassion, it will lend credibility to the good news of Jesus Christ that we proclaim.” “In a year when the broken immigration system in our nation has provoked individual states to by-pass federal laws and pass their own controversial immigration laws, causing families to be torn apart and racial profiling to run rampant, the NHCLC will present the Champions of Justice award to men who exemplify the fight for justice. These men are using their time and energy to defend the principles embedded in our constitution and founding documents and taking a stand for the ‘foreigners’ referenced in the Bible,” stated the press advisory for the NHCLC. “I applaud the awarding of the ‘Champions of Justice Award’ to Mat Staver, Richard Land, Matthew Soerens and Robert Gittelson. Each recipient has worked tirelessly and sacrificially to enrich the lives of those living in the Immigrant Community. They are most deserving of this recognition,” said Dr. James Tolle of La Iglesia En El Camino. Pastor Tolle was awarded Pastor of the Year at the same event. In addition to Matthew’s work on his travels extensively in the United States speaking to evangelical church congregations about the Bible and immigration. He is co-author with Jenny Yang (Hwang) of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate (IVP Books, 2009).

Glen Peterson compiled this story and received the award on Matt’s behalf from the NHCLC which was presented at Iglesia En El Camino (Church on the Way) in Van Nuys, California. Glen is the World Relief Garden Grove office director serving various Southern California immigrant communities. 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.  We’re always looking for new guest bloggers; please check out our Guest Blog Submission Guidelines if you’re interested. 

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