Bill on Julia


I was reading this over lunch and I think it is an important piece in defining the Gillard reign. May that end soon.

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March 28, 2013

Bill Kelty

The ALP must forgo the politics of division and seize the chance to inspire pride in its achievements.

The politics of the next few months is no longer about the result of the next election. It is about the future of the ALP. Political parties are resilient, can defy the odds and rebuild quickly. However, the essence of that rebuilding begins with a clarity of purpose as to what the party stands for and its point of difference with its competitor.

When the last two warriors of the Hawke/Keating era are sacked or resign you know the situation is serious, very serious. Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson have given their entire lives to the labour movement, have mentored the Prime Minister and have been the banner carriers for loyalty.

The polls tell us that the party is headed for a devastating defeat, the divisions are on show and the accumulated wisdom of John Faulkner, Crean, Kim Carr and Ferguson has been sidelined.

Advertisement Politics can be made more difficult than it really is. There are three essential tenets. First, take responsibility; second, reject the ideas that distract, divide and discount the nation; and third, argue to the last breath for the ideas and ideals that make the nation a better place. Honesty will, nearly always, win over duplicity.

The starting point is responsibility. It is too easy to blame the opposition, the media or Kevin Rudd. The latter may have been an irritant, but in the big picture of recent politics he was a mosquito. The government’s problems do not stem from Rudd’s removal but the means and justification for doing it.

The result was that the electorate did not give the ALP the right to govern alone. In the process of forming government, concessions were made that had lasting significance. When a sensible policy of pricing carbon at international levels became a tax, it subverted trust in a government that promised it would not introduce such a tax. When the umbilical cord of trust between the governed and those who govern is broken, it cannot be easily restored.

When the mining tax was touted as a negotiating coup, somebody forgot to tell us about state royalties. These are errors of judgment and explanation.

All that was necessary was for the government to argue that the policies are natural extensions of pre-existing policies – the international pricing of crude oil and the petroleum resources tax. The tax will prove effective, but will have left behind a reputation for incompetence.

The two most recent prime ministers have sought from caucus a special right to select their own ministers, but in both cases, the cabinet process has been allowed to be frittered away. The media reform was moderate, but the process was flawed. A jackboot approach to discussions and timing would not have been permitted if the proper process of cabinet had been followed.

 

Once responsibility is accepted, the ALP must reject the ideas and processes that have no home in the party. A Labor Party that cultivates division, or taxes superannuation retrospectively, or cannot justify deficits, or makes regional tours presidential visitations, or reinvents class warfare, or steals the rhetoric of Pauline Hanson on migrants, or embraces the Pacific refugee solution of John Howard, or attacks single mothers and narrows its base to a mythical group of blue-collar workers, cannot win an election.

On the other hand, an ALP that demonstrates its commitment to future generations through education, health care, fair wages, superannuation, the environment and protection of the most vulnerable is capable of winning.

We need a new script for the ALP about this nation that begins with the premise that the nation should not be written down or diminished. A country proud of itself, comfortable that it has plotted a different course over past generations and the opportunities it has created.

The government should start with the benefit of strong economic credentials, measured by low unemployment, inflation and interest rates. Living standards have improved in difficult times and the rest of the world sometimes marvels at the model for success created in this country. The debt level by comparison with most other nations is small. We are in this position partly because of collective government and Reserve Bank management that opened the economy and because of the decisive action of the Rudd government on the global financial crisis. We need to win the debate that economic success is not measured by the size of the surplus.

But running a deficit does not imply that governments can in some magical ways find the capacity for free goods. The essential truth of what Crean and Ferguson were arguing is that a society must create wealth before it can be distributed. A productive and adaptive nation knows the vital role of businesses, both large and small, who invest in the country.

It knows that businesses often risk their home and life savings to make those investments. Business is vital, but people are not just economic units. It also knows that there is an essential role of unions in protecting the interests of workers and acting as agents for constructive change. If real wages and superannuation and conditions of work are to be improved, increases in productive capacity will be many times more important than fights over shares of the cake.

From these twin principles – a country writ large and consensus about our capacity to fund improvement in living standards – the ALP has an opportunity to define its priorities and commitments.

A simplified tax system for small business, investments in education, improvements in superannuation and healthcare, the development of an effective infrastructure, investment market, the adoption of the Crean blueprint for regional development (which institutionalises the role of local governments and regional leaders), and the generation of its own environmental credentials will give the party a policy base for the future.

There will be imposts and changes to tax necessary to produce these outcomes. The employees must know that their negotiated wage outcomes will contain superannuation, the minimum wage will contain a component in recognition of superannuation improvement. The Medicare levy may be required to help fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The government should not underestimate the common sense and compassion of the Australian people.

Politics is ultimately a choice between parties. The points of difference based on personality are peripheral and the real differences need to be based on principles.

The Labor Party will need to demonstrate it is the culture and philosophy that counts. In that regard Whitlam, Hawke and Keating have provided the party with a solid foundation. Crean and Ferguson have helped build those foundations.

The task for Julia Gillard is to build on them, not put them at risk.

Bill Kelty was secretary of the ACTU from 1983 until 2000 and a key influence during the Hawke and Keating governments.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/a-new-script-needed-for-labor-and-the-nation-20130327-2gufy.html#ixzz2OnIIWDiH

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Easter Away?…


For the first time in years, we are thinking to go away for the Good Friday and Easter Sunday weekend. A major event in the church calendar, we have always stuck around at this time for church matters. Typically there will be Good Friday services and Easter Sunday baptisms with a big lunch to follow.

Back in Malaysia there were also Maundy Thursday prayer meetings as well as sunrise services on Easter Sunday. Special Sunday school events abound too. Too many things happen at this time for us to be planning to get away.

All this busy-ness at this time was underpinned – anchored – by a fundamentally stable relationship with the local church. Absent this relationship it becomes a bit detached and these activities suddenly dissipate in terms of significance or importance. No doubt the Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection continues to be significant and important but the commemoration and celebration are meaningful only in the context of a community.

We don’t presently have that community and so we’re thinking of plans to go away. At least let the getaway – the road trip, the hideaway, the beach perhaps, the discovery of cafes, restaurants and wineries maybe – pale as they are in comparison, hopefully they will be salves for the ugly bits.

Media Quirks


I was flipping through the new look tabloid version of The Age newspaper at the tea room. As usual, I like the letters to the editor section so I went straight to those pages.

A lady from South Australia wrote a featured letter, which had a go at Tony Abbott for not being as brave as Julia Gillard. Apparently Julia was brave for showing up in the ABC programs of Q&A and Fran Kelly.

I suppose The Age would consider such a letter worth a feature letter status. And I suppose a letter which thought Abbott a coward for not showing up on Q&A and Fran Kelly’s radio show, could be taken seriously only in The Age.

On the other end of the spectrum, I think Julia Gillard can be termed a coward for not showing up in Andrew Bolt‘s tv show on Channel 10. After all, a show which regularly featured Peter Costello could hardly be a domain the poor imitation would want to front up.

Media bias is a given. That ABC would give the Left and Labor a constant stream of free kicks is a given.

I cringed but I accepted the lady’s right to vent her feelings. I cringed but I cannot accept how a supposedly serious and mainstream media like The Age can have that letter as a feature letter. Media bias may be a given but such poor judgment is cringe worthy and unacceptable. In my mind anyway.

Help and change – only for those who want it for themselves


Tress and I watched a documentary on Afghanistan last night. I wonder now why the west bothers. The Taliban was always going to find a nest to hatch more perpetrators of violence in the name of Islam and in the case of Afghanistan, it looks as though they (the Taliban) are just sitting it out, waiting for the Americans and their allies to wear themselves and their families (and nations at home) out and go home. David Kilcullen was an expert interviewed and he was one of the most insightful and practical commentator who sounded like he was a true expert who really understood not just the issues at hand but the macro and even historical context of the conflict.

I remarked to Tress, as we watched the Americans struggling to train local Afghans to be police many of whom appear to be either under heavy drug influence (marijuana and opium were plentiful) or just too tribal and uninterested in modern policing methods, that the west is really wasting their time because you can’t help someone who refuses to be helped. The Afghans appear likely to slip into their old ways the moment the western forces leave, and the Taliban would return and re-impose their presence and will on the people. Or maybe they don’t see a problem – it is even likely they perceive the Americans and their western allied to be the problem.

A similar thread flowed through this morning’s news items. Most of them dealt with Julia Gillard’s new team. Lightweight, inexperienced, unskilled politicians who’re the Steven Bradbury’s of politics after the purging of the Rudd supporters. Still, she blames everyone for her own lack of judgment and political skills – everyone but herself. If she doesn’t see herself as the problem, she would just soldier on. Never mind the country suffers as a result – her own perception of how best to manage the situation overrides the interests of the country.

Without the objectivity of identifying the problem, and especially without the honesty to tell the people you are supposed to serve that there is a problem, self-interest carries the day. If one doesn’t see the need to change or for help, no change will take place. Status quo – for better or for worse, will be the order of the day.

Need a good book…


It was a beautiful weekend, weather wise. Tress and I slept in a little, and after a quick round of dry cleaning drop offs etc, came back to home pulled coffee and toasts, after which we attacked the garden work. Our friendly app the weatherzone had predicted rain by about 12pm so we didnt waste anytime.

We sort of finished a bit before 1pm, and then gave the little fella a good bath. We rewarded ourselves at Madam Kwong with a late lunch, where we met a couple of old friends from ICC Church. Fancy calling ICC friends that way…

We then went and returned a DVD and I picked up a bean bag. We went home and filled the bag up and I tried it out in front of the telly and promptly went to sleep! A little after 4.30pm we decided to go watch a movie. I had thoroughly had fun with Die Hard 4.0 so the latest edition of this franchise sounded fun. It wasnt to be and it was a complete turkey. So if you’re thinking of giving Bruce Willis another chance with the latest Die Hard offering, save yourself some money, time and pain – avoid this one.

There was no game on with the world cup qualifying games and strangely no AFL games either with season openers all featuring inter-state teams. So we had a quiet night, wondering which church to go to the next morning.

Bridge Church in Doncaster has sort of become the default place for us and there are so many matters to be sorted out in my head that presently, I sort of just gave up, dumped all of  them in the “later” category and zoned out. Maybe that’s what helped because the service felt better yesterday. Later, I guess…

Cheng Hsian, Jason and I (and wives of course) then met up in Doncaster for lunch and coffee and had good conversations. We then went home and walked the little fella, before settling down for the new week ahead.

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This morning I was just glancing through the Herald Sun and saw this para:

Mr Rudd was given a rockstar reception at a black tie charity event in Queensland, while Ms Gillard hosted an egg hunt with radio shock jock Kyle Sandilands – a man who has fended off accusations of misogyny – as the Easter Bunny.

I wonder how long this crippled and ineffectual government would last. Some are predicting (more in hope I guess) that it would be gone by the time parliament resumes for the budget presentation in May.

Unfortunately, until I find a more gripping book (having finished Sonia Sotomayor‘s memoir the week before) than Gary Neville‘s “Red”, I’d have more time to read the papers …

Bleh leaders


And so the leadership thing petered out for lack of contest. I guess that’s what happens when the very idea of leadership in itself takes on centre stage as opposed to conviction of causes which drives the purpose of leadership.

How often leaders fail for either not having any conviction or not following through on their convictions.

Acting on one’s conviction takes courage and exmplifies what good leadership is.  Of course, character is important too and in this regard, this PM we now have is held in such low esteem that all I hear around me is unhappiness with her leadership. Terry McCrann of the Herald Sun went so far as to call her the worst PM ever. Why are our leaders today so flacid…

Will Ms Gillard please go?


Simon Crean is a bit of an elder stateman in the Australian Labor Party. He was acting like one earlier today.

Julia Gillard has succumbed to days – weeks – of pressure and has called for a vote to elect a leader of the ALP, and the PM of course. In a way this is a bit of a pre-emptive strike against Rudd. He would not have been ready but he is now forced to show his hands.

The vote will be on this arvo at 4.30pm. I know many in Australia will be hoping this PM goes and never comes back. We’ve had enough of the dishonesty, lack of integrity, and deliberately misleading Australians on a regular basis. I have found out for a while now, that I am not the only one to switch channels everytime she comes on, either television or radio. LIke many, I’d rather listen to the weather presenter than hear her speak for even 10 seconds.

I hope another succeeds this arvo.

Things that matter (no more?)


 

From: Teh, Ian

Sent:

To: ‘[ ]’

Cc: [ ]; [ ]

Subject: Easter Plans

Don’t worry – I wasn’t going to do anything about my friend and brother’s plans and desires in this regard. I have pretty much decided to just get out of anyone and everyone’s face and do my own thing.

I would probably never understand completely the travails our brother goes through day in and day out, concerning Kuang. Often he seems accepting and well adjusted that these things happen and it is how one reacts and responses that counts. And it is perhaps these sorts of experiences that sees the most deep seated beliefs, cultural influences and upbringing all played out in our responses. We come from a survivalist economic refugees’ heritage to whom superstitions play a huge part. How we let those elements taper off by filtering them through our relationship with our Lord Jesus and His word, will be our lifelong challenge. While I think we all have a role in helping each other in that way, I also believe we can only do so meaningfully if we all belong to the same community of faith in all sense.

But we find ourselves mired in the problems that material and consumerist emphasis brings to Melbourne’s churches in the eastern suburbs. We have pastors and leaders influenced by these emphases so that we end up chasing experiences – not unlike the world’s desire for good movies, good books, latest tech, food,… i.e. experiences. All that interferes with our duty to help each other become more godly, holy and more focused on the Great Commission.

I don’t think ICC/LG has honed itself enough. TF is too distracted by the ills of Melbourne’s disease and if almost always swept along and any attempts to train his thoughts are seen as being unfair to his own views of how to do church, which to me is an aspiration to set up the best shop to satisfy its own customers.

All I long for now however, is a home where I can be planted and grow and help others around me grow. All that learning and instruction bit are no longer what interest me, and neither is my desire to cross paths with people who cant be bothered thinking about what is happening around them.

Regards

IAN TEH

T: [ ]

M: [ ]

From:

On [ ] at [ ]:[ ] [ ], Teh, Ian <[ ]> wrote:

Good for you guys. I have a feeling he would stay on for the long haul, but he wants to make the church something closer to Clayton, Grace or even FGA in terms of look and feel. That’s all a by and by for me. Unfortunately.

We (I, more accurately) want to avoid going to repeated church services over the Good Friday/Easter Sunday long weekend because right now, my church going is perfunctory and borne out of a lifetime of habit. Again, unfortunately.

So, going away sounds even better a proposition than just for the usual reason of R&R.

It is only coincidental that I am glad we have a ready-made excuse for turning down the invitation to be part of the re-baptism service. I wonder if you think I can safely send the attached doc for his reading, and I wonder what you think about the issue of re-baptism. Personally, I think he shouldn’t do it and have been thinking about asking him to reconsider but I think I have had enough of doing things like this.

Regards

IAN TEH

T: [ ]

M: [ ]

 

From White to Red


 It rained all day today. Tress and I stayed home and tidied the place up. It was as also a fair bit cooler,with temp hovering between 13 and 15 for much of the day. So tonight I opened a bottle of red for the first time in months. It was a Cabernet Merlot from WA. It was ok. We got a video- Daniel Day Lewis’s “There will be blood” but ended up watching IIndiana Jones and John MacLean instead. Weirdos…

Merits of Migrant Work


bo pien lor bro, this requires hard work and less glamorous compared to jet-setting across the globe to missionise the indigenous…

On [ ], 2013 at [ ], Teh, Ian <iteh@superpartners.com.au> wrote:

Bro –

1.       See how (not) cogent an argument to focus ministry on ABC can be (“cannot invite friend to church because too many migrants”???!!!); and

2.       See how (increasingly) cogent an argument for a ministry that focuses on reaching out to migrant mission fields at our doorstep.

If LG is serious, it should at the very least, re-think its attitude towards migrant ministry and mission policies

Highlighted in one of the para’s was by me

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philosophicalfragments/2013/03/13/evangelical-support-immigration-reform-biblical-not-political-soerens/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PatheosPhilosophicalFragments+%28Blog+-+Philosophical+Fragments%29

Evangelical Support for Immigration Reform is Biblical, Not Political

March 13, 2013 By Timothy Dalrymple 2 Comments

Many thanks to Matthew Soerens, who specializes on immigration issues for World Relief, for reading the recent guest post from Mark Tooley and offering this response:

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Evangelical Support for Immigration Reform is Biblical, Not Political

By Matthew Soerens

Recently there appeared here at Philosophical Fragments a guest post by Mark Tooley, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, critical of evangelical leaders’ advocacy for what he calls “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” which he suggests is an example of American evangelicalism slinking toward the liberalism represented by the National Council of Churches.

It is true that many evangelical leaders—including distinctly conservative folks such as Richard Land, Mathew Staver, Jim Daly, Pat Robertson, and Ralph Reed, as well as leaders of more politically neutral institutions such as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, The Navigators, Prison Fellowship, World Vision, LifeWay Research, and my employer, World Relief, plus scores of Christian college and seminary presidents, denominational leaders, and influential pastors—support some of the same elements of immigration reform as the National Council of Churches.  The basic principles that many such leaders have advocated, which some have referred to as Comprehensive Immigration Reform (though that term does not appear in the Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform), and which are also supported by the U.S. Catholic Bishops and by leaders of the Mormon church, include:

  • Ensuring secure national borders (making it harder to immigration illegally);
  • Revising the U.S.  visa system to provide both the high- and low-skilled labor necessary to sustain economic growth (making it easier to immigrate legally in the future, not without limit, but so as to approximate the needs of the U.S. labor market and to keep families united as they migrate); and
  • Establishing a process by which most of those who are currently present unlawfully could, after paying a fine for having violated the law, passing a criminal background check, and meeting certain other requirements during a probationary period of several years, eventually earn permanent legal status, providing a process by which they could ultimately become fully integrated citizens of the United States

While I would not claim to speak on behalf of all evangelical advocates of such reforms, I believe that the primary reason that most have spoken out is not, as Mr. Tooley hints, an embrace of sentimental, liberal theology, but rather an orthodox commitment to the authority of Scripture.

Mr. Tooley is correct, of course, that the Bible does not provide a specific prescription for U.S. immigration policy, but the Scriptures do speak to the topic of immigration repeatedly.  The Old Testament, in particular, is replete with God’s commands to his people to love, welcome, and ensure just treatment of immigrants.  Immigrants are mentioned repeatedly alongside the fatherless and the widow as uniquely vulnerable groups whom God commands his people to love and protect (Ps. 146:9, Zech. 7:10, Jer. 7:6).  The Israelites are commanded to allow their own history as an immigrant people to inform their treatment of those who come into their land (Ex. 23:9, Deut. 10:19). Hospitality—not having one’s friends over for a meal, but, literally, the love of strangers—is mentioned as a requirement for leadership in the Church (1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:8).  We are commanded to love our neighbors (Lev. 19:18)—immigrants explicitly included (Lev. 19:33-34)—and Jesus’ response to the question of “who is my neighbor?” offers no hint that our love should be conditioned upon the neighbor’s legal status, ethnicity, or sinlessness (Luke 10:25-37).

Mr. Tooley argues that Scripture never specifically addresses how to treat immigrants whose presence is unlawful: true enough (although Ruth, an immigrant from Moab, was arguably not supposed to have been lawfully allowed into the assembly of Israel, according to Deuteronomy 23:3, but Boaz still allowed her to glean in his fields, as commanded in Leviticus 23:22).  However, we also have no biblical exemption that suggests that the many commands to welcome and seek justice for immigrants should apply only to those who are particularly virtuous and upstanding.  Efforts, published by an organization with population control roots, to argue that the Hebrew ger (the word for a resident alien) specifically meant a lawfully-present immigrant require a great deal of presumption and have been thoroughly critiqued by evangelical scholars.  Given the strong statements of God’s judgment on those who disregarded his commands to protect the rights of immigrants (Mal. 3:5, Ezek.22:4-7), I prefer to err on the side of a more inclusive interpretation even if there is any ambiguity.

While the Scriptures are abundantly clear that Christians should respond to immigrants with hospitality and kindness, sincere believers may still legitimately disagree on the policy applications of these many biblical passages.  My concern, though—and that of many of the leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table with whom I’ve interacted—is that most American evangelicals have not even reflected on what the Bible says on this topic.  The Pew Research Center found in 2010 that just 12% of white evangelicals say that their views on immigration are primarily informed by their Christian faith; that’s very likely a function of the reality that just 16% say they have ever heard the topic of immigration discussed by their pastor or other clergy.  It sure seems as if we have been skipping over the passages of Scripture that do not fit our political or cultural narrative—a practice of which I’ve been known to accuse theological liberals on other issues.  To correct this biblical blind spot, the Evangelical Immigration Table has launched the “I Was a Stranger” Challenge, providing a bookmark that lists 40 Scripture passages that relate in one way or another to the topic of immigration, which we are encouraging people to read, one passage per day.  The bookmark provides no commentary—we won’t even tell you which translation to use—and we are in no way insisting that every evangelical Christian come to the same conclusion on questions of public policy.  If we are to claim the authority of Scripture over all of our lives, though, we must at least be aware of what the Bible says.

Perhaps as a result of our generally myopic view of the Scriptural witness on this topic, only one in ten evangelical congregations in the U.S. has any sort of ministry or ministry partnership to reach immigrants: too many are missing what I am convinced is a divinely orchestrated missional opportunity.  Even with such a meager effort, though, immigrants already account for a significant and growing segment of American evangelicalism today: many evangelical denominational leaders have told me that their denominations would be on the decline if it were not for the arrival of immigrants—both those who arrive in the U.S. with a vibrant Christian faith and those who hear and accept the gospel for the first time in the U.S.  As churches engage in ministry, leaders encounter face to face the dysfunction of our U.S. immigration system, which in too many cases results in families living apart from one another for years or decades, sends those fleeing persecution back into harm’s way, facilitates workplace exploitation and even human trafficking, and threatens our national security, because it becomes nearly impossible to sort out the “needles” of those few with malicious intent from the “haystack” of the many simply seeking the dignity of a job, which was unavailable to them in their country of origin.  Our current system also mocks the biblical ideal of the rule of law (Rom. 13:1), because rather than spend billions of dollars to fully enforce a law that could devastate the U.S. economy, both Democratic and Republican administrations have looked the other way as employers and immigrants alike have skirted the law.

Mr. Tooley also suggests that evangelical leaders have not considered the consequences of reform; to the contrary, through their relationships with immigrant church leaders, in particular, many see and hear on a daily basis the dysfunction of our current system.  Many have studied very carefully—in consultation with biblical scholars as well as economists and legal experts—the effects of reform, and they have coalesced around support for policies that are also supported by both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the major labor unions, as well as by law enforcement officials and most Americans.

Indeed, most white evangelicals, most Republicans, most Democrats, and most Americans all say they support the same sorts of common sense reforms as evangelical leaders.  But legislators have been intimidated by carefully coordinated phone call and fax campaigns organized by population control groups, who oppose further migration because they believe too many human beings will result in environmental degradation.  The Human Life Review recently published an exposé on the extensive ties between groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA to the population control movement.  The founder of all three groups, whose population control ideology drives his opposition to immigration, is also a strong advocate of abortion rights: he started a Planned Parenthood chapter in Michigan and speaks approvingly of China’s one-child forced abortion policy.  NumbersUSA is explicit in its population control goals: “We’re very clear about what we are,” spokesperson Rosemary Jenks told WORLD Magazine recently.  Given that Mark Tooley’s Institute for Religion and Democracy’s website says it opposes “population control (which almost always includes abortion on demand),” and his reasoning that evangelicals should not address immigration policy because it might distract us from defending pre-born life, I was startled to note that the organization’s board of directors includes a NumbersUSA Vice President.

My challenge to Mr. Tooley would be to look carefully at where he is getting his information about immigration, and then to accept the 40-day “I Was a Stranger” Scripture-reading Challenge.  I’d further challenge him to invite an immigrant family from a local Latino church over for lunch, simply to listen and try to understand their perspective.  For many other evangelical leaders, that combination of Scripture and relationship has proven transformative, turning them into strong advocates for just, compassionate, common sense immigration reform policies.