John Smyth and Thomas Helwys fled England for Holland at the beginning of the 17th century.

Migrating across the English Channel, Smyth and Helwys arrived on the shores of Holland as hopeful immigrants seeking to follow their conscience, practice their faith and discover a new life for them and their families.

As Englishmen on foreign soil, they established what historians declare to be the first Baptist church in the world. Just think what might have happened if Holland turned them away.

When Roger Williams was exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony on Oct. 9, 1635, he found himself facing a brutal New England winter.

As an alien wandering in the wilderness, Williams encountered the Narragansett tribe, who welcomed him into their village.

Facing certain death, the Native Americans embraced their English immigrant, nursed him to health and even sold him land that eventually became Rhode Island.

If it were not for the generosity and hospitality of the Narragansetts, religious liberty as we know it may have never come to fruition.

These reminders bring me to the immigration debate unfolding in the U.S. right now.

Our history indicates that early Baptists were a people on the run. In many instances, they were fleeing persecution looking toward a hopeful future.

Our Baptist DNA suggests we were born from immigrants seeking a better opportunity to practice their faith and provide for their families.

For this reason alone (and there are numerous biblical reasons as well), Baptists should be the champions of immigrants and refugees.

Therefore, Baptist leaders from across the country are calling on all Baptists to support Dreamers.

Today, leaders are encouraging Baptists to call their elected U.S. senators and representatives urging them to support a “clean” DREAM Act. has provided a webpage that demonstrates the united voice of Baptists in support of Dreamers. It includes a link to find out the contact information of senators and representatives.

Some might be unfamiliar with calling an elected official, so we want to provide valuable information for first-time callers.

Do not expect to speak to the senator or representative. You will most likely talk to an aide assigned to take calls.

Be kind and respectful because aides are responsible for passing along information and could be an elected official in the future.

When the aide answers the phone, kindly say, “Hello, my name is ____________. I am a Baptist constituent of Senator/Representative ____________. I would like to speak to someone assigned to immigration and the DREAM Act. Thank you.”

They might redirect your call to another person or ask you to share your thoughts with them. Here is an example of what you might say:

“Hello, I am calling today as part of the #Baptists4Dreamers Day. I want to encourage the senator/representative to support a ‘clean’ DREAM Act that protects ‘Dreamers’ from deportation and provides them a pathway to citizenship. My Baptist faith inspires me to stand beside these incredible immigrants who were brought to our country by their parents. They have become inspirations to us all and productive people within their communities. I hope the senator/representative will do what is right, supporting and voting in favor of a ‘clean’ Dream Act. Thank you for your service, and God bless.”

Give the aide a moment to respond and ask any questions for clarification. The aide most likely will register the call, thank you and hang up.

When a senator or representative receives a call from a constituent, it carries more weight with them.

Identifying yourself as a person of faith also makes them evaluate the DREAM Act from a spiritual, moral and ethical position. and each partner in this effort appreciate your willingness and commitment to stand beside the marginalized.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he offered this phrase, “Your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

As you make each of these phone calls on behalf of Dreamers, you bring a little bit of heaven down to this world. You are taking to heart the words of Jesus and offering hope to those who need it.

Thank you, and let’s keep working as Baptists to keep the DREAM alive.

Mitch Randall is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics and executive editor of You can follow him on Twitter @rmitchrandall.

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