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Front Range Christian hosts discussion on immigration

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Gathering focuses on faith's role in the debate

By Ramsey Scott

In the debate on immigration reform, much of the discussion focuses on the politics and economics of potential changes to the system. 

The G92 group thinks the debate also should include what faith says about immigration.

Front Range Christian School hosted a conference by the evangelical Christian organization Friday and Saturday to educate parents and students about the issue of immigration and what the Christian faith has to say about it.

“Usually these issues are not talked about from a Christian perspective,” said Jeff Haanen, coordinator of the event and an admissions director for Front Range Christian. “It’s political; it’s economics. It’s important as evangelical Christians to see what the Bible has to say about immigration.”

The name G92 refers to the 92 mentions of the Hebrew word for immigrant, “ger,” throughout the Old Testament. The focus of the group, said director Daniel Watts, is to encourage evangelical Christians to view the immigration debate through the lens of their faith.

Watts, a recent college graduate, started G92 in 2011 as a one-time conference to kick off a conversation about what the Christian faith says about immigrants. The one-time conference has turned into a national movement of evangelicals to break down stereotypes and inform Christians about what the group sees as the Biblical call to accept and love immigrants.

“It starts the conversation at a different place,” Haanen said. “We’re praying that it starts up a good dialogue.”

While the group believes the immigration system in the United States is broken and needs to be fixed, the group doesn’t advocate any policy solution, Watts said. Instead, it wants people to approach the debate with compassion, which the Bible says Christians should have for immigrants.

As part of trying to break down stereotypes and connect Christians to the stories of immigrants, the conference featured the stories of Christians working in the immigrant community and of Christian immigrants themselves. 

One of those immigrants to share her story was Buna Dahal, an immigrant from Nepal who sits on the board of Littleton Immigrant Integration Initiative. Dahal said she wanted the audience to recognize their own families’ immigration stories and the hardships facing those arriving in the country now. 

“We are connected on a deeper level,” Dahal said. “I hope they take away the determination, courage and perseverance (of immigrants), and there’s always hope for the future.”

Aylen Alfaro, 22, told her story of struggling to fit in to her new home while missing her native Guatemala, sometimes through tears, to the audience at Front Range Christian. Alfaro said she shared her story so people would understand the emotional cost immigrants endure.

“It’s important for people to know the emotional side of it,” said  Alfaro, who came to the U.S. when she was 8. “There are kids like me going through what I went through.”

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.