Three Faithful Responses to the Separation of Families at the Border
By Blair Thompson-White
Children are being separated from their mothers and fathers at the border.
This story from NPR offers startling statistics--2,342 children have been separated from their families--and reports dramatic details that one has to read twice in order to believe: agents telling children they are getting a bath in order to lure them away from their parents; parents being taken away without clear information about where their children are going.
Even more startling than pictures of children crying is the sound of their weeping, heard in this seven minute recording. I heard it while in the car and it cut right to my heart; after ten seconds of hearing the inconsolable children crying "mommy" my instinct was to turn the channel to a music station. The temptation is to try and numb our feelings, to turn the news off about what is happening to these children and families.
Our Christian response begins with tuning in and turning towards this terrible story. It is our responsibility to stay tuned in and to let our hearts break. The word compassion means 'to suffer with.' Let yourself suffer with these children and families and when people ask you why you feel so deeply for them, say:
1) These are God's children. We believe that each person is a child of God, no matter where they are from or their color of skin; each person carries the divine image. The divine DNA is in each of us; we are all connected! The crying child is my child. The mother torn from her two-year-old is my sister. Their pain is our pain. This is our family.
2) Ending this cruelty is ours to do. We have the power and the responsibility to stay informed, to keep talking, to keep praying--and to take action.
Some actions I have taken include: Calling my representatives; sending a letter to the White House and Department of Justice (click here for a template); donating to Justice for our Neighbors, a United Methodist-sponsored agency that offers high-quality immigration legal services to these separated families.
All of us can do something. I read one story about a group of children who put together a bake sale to raise money for lawyers sponsored by Together Rising, another organization working tireless to fund legal help for these families.
Jesus has no other hands or feet on earth but ours. We are given the power of the Holy Spirit to make this right in Jesus' name right now.
3) Scripture gives us the greatest commandment to love God and love others. It is NOT complicated. Why get so passionate about the plight of these children and families? Because Jesus said "I am them" in Matthew 25. When we look into their eyes and hear their cries, we are encountering the living Christ.
The Bible tells stories of religious folks who got mixed up and put the law over love. We will not get mixed up.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said: the time is always right to do the right thing. It is clear what the right thing to do is.
Children and families should not be separated.
We will not numb. We will not tune out.
We will pray, think, and act until the sound of weeping is turned into shouts of joy.