It is President Trump’s fault! No, it is the Democrats! No, it is the Republicans! No, it is the immigrants themselves! No, it is the fault of their home country!
The picture of Oscar Alberto Martinez and his daughter, Angie Saleria M, who drowned while crossing the Rio Grande on Sunday, has crushed me. My heart did a similar thing when the picture of Alan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy, drowned on September 2, 2015, in the Mediterranean Sea.
The truth is, although my heart hurt by Alan’s picture, it was still a problem over there, far away, nothing I can do or say about it. Oscar and Angie’s death though was right on our border. There are around 2,000 children in Border Patrol custody on any given day. This problem will not go away. Sure, a picture of a dead father and daughter can pull your heart strings but there are countless others who are suffering who don’t have a picture to document their realities.
Jesus said in Matthew 25:44-45 (CEB); “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’”
Does it matter who started the issue at the border, whether it was Obama or Trump? Does it matter if these families, men, women, and children are arriving for a better life or seeking asylum? I keep asking myself, “What hell would I need to escape to risk the lives of my own wife and children like all of these people?” Whatever that reason is, it doesn’t matter.
For decades I have listened to people call the United States of America a Christian country. I have seen time and time again the cross is wrapped in the American flag or vice versa. Over and over we paint the picture that America is a place where the love of Jesus Christ is lived out and professed. But this is more for patriotism than discipleship.
We like to think we are the best country in the world, but it has been a while since we took a long look in the mirror. There are kids…CHILDREN…dying or suffering at our borders and in our custody and we have turned a blind eye. We are happy to ignore it because we don’t take our walk with God seriously enough. We will follow only when it is convenient. Only when it strokes our egos or pushes our agendas.
“We recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God. We affirm the right of all persons to equal opportunities for employment, access to housing, health care, education, and freedom from social discrimination. We urge the Church and society to recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all. We oppose immigration policies that separate family members from each other or that include detention of families with children, and we call on local churches to be in ministry with immigrant families.” [2016 Book of Discipline, Social Principles ¶162.H] But do we truly believe this?
Jeremiah 22:3 (CEB), “The Lord proclaims: Do what is just and right; rescue the oppressed from the power of the oppressor. Don’t exploit or mistreat the refugee, the orphan, and the widow. Don’t spill the blood of the innocent in this place.” But do we truly believe this?
Leviticus 19:33-34 (CEB), “When immigrants live in your land with you, you must not cheat them. Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” But do we truly believe this?
The way we treat the least of these in our world tells us a lot about our willingness to follow the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The way we detain, separate, and cast aside human beings made in the image of God tells God all God needs to know.
We must do better as a country. We must do better as followers of Jesus Christ. Does it really matter the reason why or should we simply treat these people as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? We…must…do…better!