Children should not be dying in our care on the border (or anywhere else, for that matter). The images and reports coming out of detention centers are extremely disturbing. Can we dispel with all political ideology and make space for a few moments of sanity? I am not writing to bash politicians. I’m writing to lift up the name and Spirit of Jesus. And His Spirit is telling us, no child should die in our care.
Jesus always called his disciples to action. Don’t give me excuses, Jesus seemed to say, do something about it.
1. Our first reaction should NOT be to cast blame.
I lived and ministered on the border for almost ten years. I was a pastor in McAllen, Texas to a number of Border Patrol Officers, border city Police Officers, First Responders, FBI Agents, and even a Texas Ranger. These men and women are heroes to me. They work tirelessly to protect our borders and save lives.
I can only speak for those who called me pastor – they are some of the most caring and compassionate people I know. I know their hearts are breaking over the tragic situation on the border.
The issue of immigration has plagued every U.S. President, Congress and Senate, no matter their political affiliation. Some have handled it better than others — not one of them has handled it perfectly.
Jesus taught us to love all people – those who are trying to work and live on the border, those politicians who are trying to find solutions, as well as those who are trying to escape the violence in their countries of origin – all people.
2. Our first reaction should be to act.
Jesus had a special place in his heart for the vulnerable (Matt. 19:14).
He started his ministry by announcing that he had come “to proclaim good news to the poor … freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free …” (Luke 4:18).
Jesus said to his disciples, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matt. 25:35).
They were confused. “When did we do that?” they asked.
He replied, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).
This, by the way, was his definition of truly belonging to him.
Later, the disciple John picks up on this essential Christian theme when he said, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16).
Jesus is our example of how to love the marginalized and the vulnerable. John went on to say:
We ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18).
I don’t care whether you are Republican, Democrat, Independent, or None-of-the-above — if you have a single spiritual bone in your body – if you have even an elementary understanding of who Jesus was and is – this one is a no-brainer!
Five Ways to Help the Children
Jesus heaped praise on those who actually did something. Those who actually visited. Those who actually provided food and water. John said talk is cheap. What are you going to do?
Here are five ways you can help.
1. Call your Legislators.
Let them know how you feel.
The problems are systemic and too complex for any one person. The ultimate solutions will come only as we work together.
If you don’t know what number to call, you can either call the US Capitol switchboard or punch your info into http://callmycongress.com and get the direct phone numbers.
Consider saving those direct numbers in your phone so that you can follow up with more calls in the future.
2. Use digital media.
Be nice. Be civil. Be accurate. Be true to your heart.
Social media has given us unprecedented ways to connect with like-minded people and be a part of a movement that makes a difference.
3. Keep talking about this.
Don’t let the children be forgotten.
Children were largely ignored in the public square in Jesus’ day. They were expected to stay close to home. They were meant to be seen but not heard. Jesus balked at this cultural rule.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Matt. 10:14).
Jesus will not forget them. Neither should we. Encourage others to make calls to their own legislators.
4. Donate to organizations that will help these children.
If you can’t be the hands and feet of Jesus on the ground, you can help support those who can.
5. Teach your children kindness and compassion.
We can’t change what has already happened, but we can teach our children to change the future.
Your child may inadvertently see some disturbing images. Please talk to them about this. Let them hear about it from you and let them see your heart of compassion for other children (just like them).
Caring for these children is not a partisan issue, it’s an issue many parents all over the political spectrum are grappling with. Many have differing opinions about how to resolve the issues at the root of this problem, but all parents can agree that if their child was in this position they would want them to be shown some kindness.
Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted the following:
“The reports of the conditions for migrant children at the border should shock all of our consciences. Those created in the image of God should be treated with dignity and compassion, especially those seeking refuge from violence back home. We can do better than this.”
Oddly, he was criticized by another Christian “leader” for stating the obvious.
Thank you Dr. Moore for seeing the truth – this issue is a no-brainer — and we CAN do better than this. We must do better. No whining, Jesus said to his disciples, you do something about it.