Why is the "protector of the free world" unconcerned for the neighbors in its own backyard? The United States's political motivations are complicated, but it's clear that we reserve our cavalier interventions for the protection of only a certain subset of children.
And so girls and boys from "low-priority" countries "knowingly [set] out on harrowing journeys to come to the U.S. because the alternative—staying in their home countries and waiting for some other kind of relief—means almost certain death."
In a recent sermon, Rev. John Edgar wondered how bad it would have to be to feel that the only option was to send your child, empty handed and alone, thousands of miles on the chance that they might find safety and refuge. With all the poverty and violence happening in our own streets, can we imagine it getting so bad that we would be forced to make such a decision for our own kids? To send them away, rather than keeping them close under your own protection?
Imagine having to decide that it is in the best interest of your 10-year-old girl to send her by herself from Washington DC to San Francisco to escape the conditions of her own neighborhood. Imagine sending her over mountains, through deserts, across rivers, in the hope that she manages to arrive safely on the west coast. Imagine that you hear that she actually managed to make it, only to be met by angry mobs telling her "go home" and "don't take my stuff." And what is more, you hear that these hoards were led by Christians--that it was God's own people that rejected your child. Could you send away your 10-year-old child under these conditions? Would you send even your 16-year-old? How heart wrenching must it be? How dangerous the consequences of failing to do so?
|Click to enlarge: |
"Via an unknown road"
Don't we follow a Christ that taught us that whatever we do to the least to these we have done to Him? Weren't we told to give the cloaks off our backs and care for the afflicted? Scripture tells us "when a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself" (Leviticus 19:33-34). And we are warned "I will be swift... against those who thrust aside the sojourners, and do not fear me" (Malachi 3:5).
Our faith is founded on the shoulders of unaccompanied children immigrating to strange lands. As a teenager, Joseph narrowly escaped death, forcibly leaving his parents to live in a foreign country. Moses's mother sent him down the river in a basket to escape imminent death. David spends much of his life fleeing those trying to destroy him. And Jesus himself was a child forced escape violence and oppression by becoming a refugee in a foreign country. People of God, have we forgotten who we are?
What if Joseph hadn't be able to get a housekeeping job in the new country? What if Pharaoh’s daughter hadn't taken in a child in need? What if Saul's son, Jonathan, hadn't defied the law for David's sake? What if the Egyptian immigration agents had stopped Joseph and Mary at the border? Where would we be today, but for those immigrants and refugees?
|Click to enlarge|
There are indeed some Christians actively living into their values of hospitality on the border. There are others who are working tirelessly to affect change in public perception and policies. But what message does it send when the hateful voices are the loudest? What if instead we boldly proclaim the God that rescues. The God that saves. The God that does not heartlessly tell us to "go away," but says instead "welcome home."
|"Photo taken inside a shelter in McAllen, Texas."|