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February 10, 2017 - 

Steven Timmermans, executive director of the Christian Reformed Church, recently signed a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence expressing concern about the moratorium placed on refugee resettlement in the U.S.

“Our care for the oppressed and suffering is rooted in the call of Jesus to ‘love our neighbor as we love ourselves,’” the letter said. “As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now.”

Timmermans said he signed the letter because “I’m expressing the intent of Synod 2010’s decision when it said to ‘speak out against and seek to reform laws and practices concerning the treatment of immigrants that appear to be unduly harsh or unjust.’”

He said that in the U.S., the immigration of refugees involves a thorough vetting process and then resettlement through many religiously affiliated agencies. “Since there has been no reported evidence of the U.S.’s vetting practices to be deficient and because it is largely people of faith running these organizations for resettlement, which for me engenders trust, I think the actions of the recent executive order fit Synod’s target: treatment . . . that appear[s] to be unduly harsh or unjust.”

The letter acknowledges the crucial role of government in protecting from harm but said compassion and security must coexist. It also noted that in addition to welcoming persecuted Christians, there must also be a welcome for “vulnerable Muslims and people of other faiths or no faith at all.”

The letter closed with a promise of prayer for both elected leaders and the vulnerable individuals whom their decisions directly impact.

Among the 500 evangelical leaders who also signed the letter were Timothy Keller, Bill Hybels, Ann Voskamp, and Richard Mouw.

To those Christian Reformed Church members who may disagree with Timmermans’ action, he says, “Please call me. Let’s talk because we’re brothers and sisters in Christ, all trying to live out the call of the gospel."

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