Proverbs 31:8-9 Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
An old school bus took up a row of spaces in the parking lot. In the middle of July, after a week of sweaty labor in the tobacco fields, migrant workers descended from the rusty bus. It was time to enjoy a weekly shopping trip to the nearby strip mall with a Walmart and Belk.
In the Belk store, a young migrant worker waited patiently at the counter. He wanted to buy a sparkly necklace for his wife. With a big smile on his face and a wad of bills in his hand, he stood near the encased jewelry. He waited and waited. The sales clerk saw him. She then turned away.
As young girls, my sister and I noticed how instead of walking to help him, the store clerk avoided him. As we spun the rotational costume jewelry nearby, we watched the employee walk as far away as she could. She pretended to be busy doing something else. He was the only customer at the counter. She wasn’t busy!
We did what children do; we turned to our mother for help. After telling her the situation, she told us to stop. We then followed her lead to the fine jewelry counter.
Almost immediately, sales clerk with a Cheshire cat grin walked over to my mom. Why didn’t my mom have to wait at all? It was wrong.
“How can I help you?” the sales clerk chimed.
“You can help me by helping him,” my mother responded.
“Help him? But, he doesn’t speak English.”
“It’s not going to be a problem.” The young migrant worker pointed to the necklace. The woman’s eyes got rather large as she saw two blonde haired, blue eyed little girls speaking Spanish to this thoughtful husband. We made sure it was the necklace he wanted and made sure it was the right amount. The farm worker went on his merry way, thankful for our help, and not the least bit mad. This surprised me too. Why wasn’t he mad?
Over a year ago, I went back to that same baby Belk with my mother. We were getting ready for a family wedding later that afternoon.
“Mom, remember that time with the migrant worker and sales clerk at Belk?”
“That was years ago. Laura, you remember that day?”
“Oh Mom, I remember how I saw Jesus in you.”
Response: Hymn- Gift of Love UMH 408
Prayer: Beautiful Creator, you speak life into being. In the void, you spoke and said it was good. In the midst of troubling spaces that need your presence, speak through me for those who can’t. With your strength and might, project my voice to boldly speak of your truth, your ways, your life. Fill me with your spirit to be an echo of your love. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.