Children on the Borders
“You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” — Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT)
“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” — Romans 12:6-8 (NLT)
There is a saying that a picture can paint a thousand words. How many pictures does it take to break a heart? I rarely watch the news because the pictures shown at times leave such a mark on me that I am physically affected by them. But there I was, watching the news when the breaking headline came on about the children being separated from their parents after crossing the border.
Picture after picture of children, some in small groups huddled together on a mat, some just sitting staring into space, a few lying down and then… this one boy. He appeared to be maybe 13 years of age. He was sobbing, rocking himself, his fists bawled up, wiping his eyes. My heart broke. I was immediately reminded of my own grandson, who because of his coloring and his ability to tan is often mistaken for being Latino. I was reminded of his two best friends, one from a Mexican family and the other Puerta Rican/Guatemalan. I was reminded of Carlos, Oscar, Jorge and Miguel, Camilla, Jasmine; children that I know; children that I have worshipped with, played with. And my heart continued to break. But, what could I do?
More recently, I have seen a documentary on two football teams in Brownsville, TX. The majority of the players on both teams are Latino. Some were born in the US and others in Mexico and brought to the US by their parents. All of the young men had parents and/or siblings either in the US or Mexico. The ones recording the documentary showed their struggles at school, at home and at work. One young man missed practices because he worked in a sweat shop to make money to help feed his family. One young man made the trip across the border to Matamoros to visit his mom and siblings. They had to leave early because of the possibility of violence from the drug dealers. All of them cried, tears streaming down their faces from sorrow on having to leave family in Matamoros and also from guilt, they were the lucky ones. My heart continued breaking. But what could I do?
My heart continues to break as I see mothers with children in small clusters in Walmart or the grocery store, to afraid to look up and see the smile of a stranger. I catch pieces of conversations, “miedo”, fear. I watch and listen, my heart breaks. What can I do?
I can do this: continue to allow my heart to break for what breaks God’s; though I may not have actively caused pain, hardship or distress, I have been passive–looking for someone else to step in, to step up, to speak out. So I must repent. God has given me gifts for doing certain things well. Do I know what they are and how to use them? Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone?
In this season of Advent, may we all allow our hearts to be broken by the things that break God’s. May we spend time in self-examination and make the needed adjustments to our thinking, our attitudes. May we join with others in using our gifts as the body of Christ to give ourselves for others.
— Joan Fischer