People of faith have been pivotal in advocating for immigrant rights in the U.S. historically and in contemporary times, according to Biola University sociology professor Dr. Brad Christerson. The professor co-authored, God’s Resistance: Mobilizing Faith to Defend Immigrants, to explore how faith-based organizations have the ability to uniquely leverage impact when engaging with those who have recently immigrated.

“[God] walks alongside and empowers people who are marginalized,” said Christerson. “It was just incredible seeing God’s hand at work, getting people released from detention, reuniting families, just against all odds.”

While writing the book, Christerson shared he was awakened to aspects of God's character – specifically, God’s hand in freeing and protecting the marginalized.

The book revolves around six case studies of faith-based organizations advocating for immigrants and refugees, specifically regarding Southern California's immigrant crisis. It contains powerful testimonies from over 40 individuals — asylum seekers, detained immigrants, activists, leaders of congregations and lay participants who invite readers into their stories. These individuals’ stories help illustrate the practical solutions proposed in the book.

Christerson teaches courses in the Biola sociology department, which focus on inequalities and injustices built into systems. His coursework focuses on how the Christian faith inspires a kingdom with no hierarchy — where everyone is given an equal chance to thrive. Christerson shared how liberating it is to know a God who carries more power than governments who oppress the marginalized. Christerson integrates his passion for this topic into the classroom.

“[In] one of my classes called, ‘unequal justice,’ we talk about the immigration system and the injustices built into it,” said Christerson.

This book was co-authored alongside Rev. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra, Rev. Dr. Robert Chao Romero and Dr. Nancy Wang Yuen. Salvatierra has been a leader in this movement for 30 years, and in many ways pioneered the exploration of this book. The interdisciplinary nature of its chapters enriches the topic, according to Christerson.

“We all kind of bring different gifts to the table,” said Christerson. “Alexia has been in this movement for 40 years, so she has such a wealth of knowledge and insight to draw from. Robert, as a historian of Latino Christianity, knows a lot about the past, and how historically the church has been at the forefront of the movement for immigrant rights. And Nancy and I are sociologists, so we did the more in-depth interviews, and used our qualitative analysis skills to come up with some sociological principles.”

Visit the website to learn more about Biola’s Department of Sociology. Order God's Resistance: Mobilizing Faith to Defend Immigrants for purchase on Amazon.

Written and photographed by Abigail Goosen, strategic communications assistant. For more information, contact Media Relations at