Borders are real. They make tremendous impact on our lives. Juarez, Mexico is only 2 miles farther away from me than El Paso, Texas, USA. And yet El Paso calls my concern and responsibility. I feel real powerlessness toward the crippling violence of Juarez.
Note: As I was editing this post, the news poured in of the mass shooting at a Wal-Mart in El Paso. Obviously, this gives my previous sentence its own level of absurdity. May we come to our senses to stop these preventable deaths.
During our time in El Paso, I learned of a refugee camp across the border in Juarez. A 5-yo American citizen lives in that camp because his mother is undocumented. Folks from the Border Network for Human Rights, who made the invitation to come, repeatedly declared that Mexico is not safe. The 5-yo is literally in a state of limbo, his mother having to choose a dangerous refugee camp or send her child over alone. I come back to this to highlight the complexity of the situation. Then I immediately have a second revelation: we can just be kind to his mother. Is there no preliminary documentation we can grant her so that her child can access the rights he’s entitled to as an American citizen?
As a person of faith, as I study the life of Christ as well as other people of transcendent spiritual power, I see a commonality: each saw the absurdity of our human divisions. For Jesus, the divisions that separated Jew from Samaritan, Hebrew from Syro-Phonecian, male from female, sinner from non-sinner were only useful in demonstrating the unstoppable love of God. Other great people of faith did so in their own contexts.
What then is a border-crosser to a person of faith? I struggle to find adequate words for what I’m trying to communicate. Certainly their ethnicity is not meaningless. It is full of beauty, identity, experience, purpose, insight, etc. All of these distinctions are real and true variety is the hallmark of God’s creation. Nevertheless, the image of God inside the Latinx is the same that is inside me. This has been page one of the book since ink was first invented. And yet, 43 years into my journey of faith, I am more clearly seeing the provocative nature of that teaching. It went against easy, conventional group-think back then. It goes against modern group-think today. If you believe this, you cannot look at a cage full of migrants and not see the suffering.
Image via El Paso Times