[Press Release] Evangelical Pastors & Leaders Call for Reconsideration of Refugee Order

Feb. 9, 2017

WASHINGTON— On Thursday, national evangelical leaders and local evangelical pastors joined a telephonic press briefing to discuss a letter they and other pastors recently sent to President Trump and Vice-President Pence, urging them to reconsider the harsh reduction in refugees to be welcomed to the US—a provision of the President’s Executive Order unaffected by recent judicial challenges.

Driven by their commitment to the Bible, many local churches throughout the country are actively involved in ministry to refugees, and the reduction of refugees who could come to the US limits churches’ ability to minister.

The letter, which was signed by some of the most prominent evangelical pastors in the country and coordinated by World Relief, appeared as an ad in the Washington Post on Wednesday.

The following are quotes from the leaders on today’s press briefing:

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief: 

“With this letter we are raising our voice on behalf of those whose voices are not being heard. We also are giving a platform to thousands of pastors and other leaders to speak out on their support for the refugee community around the world.”

Jason Webb, Senior Pastor, Elmbrook Church, Brookfield, WI:

“As followers of Jesus, who himself was a refugee, we have no choice but to care for the refugee.  We are called to always give voice to the voiceless, hope for the hopeless, and refuge for the refugee.  If we fail to do this, we fail to truly be the church.”

Eric Costanzo, Senior Pastor, South Tulsa Baptist Church, Tulsa, OK: 

“Many of us do not realize that thousands of Middle Eastern, Muslim people are crying out to the Church for help. They have heard of Jesus’ and His followers’ reputation for kindness and charity.  I signed the letter because I believe caring for those who are suffering, oppressed, poor, broken and vulnerable comes directly from the heart of God.”

Lisa Jernigan, Advocate for Global Engagement Central Christian Church, Mesa, AZ:

“Our church has been involved in serving refugees for several years… and they bless us so much by allowing us into their story… I am engaged because it’s the human thing to do and because I believe it is the way of Jesus and the way of love.”

Ed Stetzer, Professor, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL:

“My hope is that evangelicals (and others) will take a fresh look at just how safe the refugee program has been. According to a recent Cato Institute study, there is a 1 in 3.64 billion per year chance that you will be killed by a refugee-turned-terrorist. We can have—we have had— safety andsecurity.”

Eugene Cho, Lead Pastor, Quest Church, Seattle, WA:

“We as a nation should do more, not less, to welcome refugees as our world faces the greatest refugee crisis in our recorded history.”

Galen Carey, VP of Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals:

“A partnership between churches, volunteers, and government to resettle carefully screened refugees who are fleeing violence and persecution contributes to our safety and theirs, while closing our doors grants a propaganda victory to terrorists.  Compassion and security go hand in hand, as Jesus taught and as we have seen throughout our history of successful refugee resettlement.”

Jenny Yang, SVP of Policy and Advocacy, World Relief: 

“Seeing church leaders from every state in our country speaking up for refugees demonstrates how many evangelicals care for refugees and want our government to do the same. With this letter and outpouring of support, we believe we are changing the narrative around who refugees are and who we are as followers of Christ.”

A full recording of today’s call is available at bit.ly/EvangelicalRefugeePressBriefing.



World Relief is a global humanitarian relief and development organization that stands with the vulnerable and partners with local churches to end the cycle of suffering, transform lives and build sustainable communities. With over 70 years of experience, World Relief has 25 offices in the United States that specialize in refugee and immigration services, and works in 20 countries worldwide through disaster response, health and child development, economic development and peacebuilding.

Website  WorldRelief.org |  Twitter @WorldRelief