It’s an interesting and perhaps faulty observation, but the Coronavirus pandemic seems to have diverted much of our attention and our energy away from issues just recently consuming a lot of our passion, the issue of immigration being one of these. Five weeks ago, I was in McAllen, TX with Cabinet colleagues, our bishop, and clergy participating in the Residency in Ordained Ministry process (RIOM). We were there to observe, to learn, and to be in ministry.
We met with pastors and missionaries serving on both sides of the Mexico-US border, with DS Robert Lopez (El Valle District), and Bishop Robert Schnase, bishop of the Rio Texas Conference. We walked across the Hidalgo Bridge from McAllen, TX USA into Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Missionary Willie Berman guided our visit with two mission centers and those persons they served — migrant men, women and children from southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador — some seeking permission to work in the US, some seeking asylum. The following morning, we walked across the bridge from Brownsville, TX USA into Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. There, Pastor David Medrano guided our “tent city” visit of migrant families along the Rio Grande (over 2,000 persons now live there). We engaged and spoke with persons we met — parents and children. In each conversation and every interaction, we experienced a generosity of spirit, the smile of friendship, and a mutual recognition of our shared humanity as children of God.
Now back at home, I am concerned for the well-being of my family, for pastoral colleagues and the churches under my care as we deal with an international pandemic which was only on the horizon five weeks ago.
My prayer today is that God will keep the current crisis from consuming our passion for doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. My prayer today is that concern for our own health and safety and the health and safety of those we love will not cause us to forget the other — the oftentimes forgotten.
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
If we are worth anything,
it is not because we have more money
or more talent
or more human qualities.
Insofar as we are worth anything,
it is because we are grafted into your life,
your cross and resurrection.
May that always be our measure. Amen.
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To educate this week:
Send letters to your elected officials and your local press regarding the experiences and treatment of immigrant people.
To cultivate growth this week:
Host an event to empower your congregation and communities to show hospitality to immigrant people.
To advocate this week:
Advocate against efforts of authorities to intimidate the immigrant community.
Randy Innes is the District Superintendent for the Heritage District.