I am sitting in a chair under a covered shelter in El Salvador, listening to the rumble of thunder and hearing the rain as it falls on the terra cotta roof. The scenery is beautiful— mango, lime, banana, cashew, coconut, and a host of other fruit trees dot the landscape. Flowers of all colors display the beauty of God’s creation. The breeze created by the rainstorm freshens and cools the air. Such is the setting at Pepe’s House, the temporary home of some who give up the comfort of their own homes to participate in God’s mission in another part of the world. Earlier in the day, our mission team delivered large bags of food — rice, beans, cooking oil, sugar, salt, protein drink mix, spaghetti, sardines, and other items to hungry families in the surrounding area.
The beauty that surrounds Pepe’s House is enclosed by a great wall that separates and provides some respite from the activities of the day and the surrounding community. It is ironic, however, that the reason our mission team is in El Salvador is because of what lies beyond the wall. We are here because of those who live in abject poverty. We are here to bring a glimmer of hope to people whose children go to bed at night with empty stomachs because there is no food to fill them. To people whose homes are flooded because of the heavy rains and whose floors are nothing but mud. To people who need the rain for their crops and, at the same time, whose lives are drenched by the rain I am enjoying. To people who live in fear because of those who seek to do them harm and take away the few personal belongings they have. To people who are sick, with no funds to pay for a physician or the medicines they need. To people who graciously receive the food items we prepare and deliver to them, knowing the food will last a short time before it is gone.
And, I find myself praying for those to whom God has sent me and who bless me through their hospitality and warmth. I pray for their safety from the storm, for the children who will wake up with rainwater in their beds. I also pray for the children at home in the U.S. who will go to sleep hungry at night because there is no food in their cupboards, and I pray for children at the border who are afraid and separated from their loved ones.
Archbishop Oscar Romero said, “The church would betray its own love for God and its fidelity to the gospel if it stopped being ‘the voice of the voiceless.’” Dear church, this we must remember and act upon.
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
The great need today, Lord,
is for Christians who are active and critical,
who don’t accept situations without analyzing them
inwardly and deeply.
May we no longer be masses of people
like those who have been trifled with for so long.
May we be like fruitful fig trees,
who can say yes to justice and no to injustice,
and can make use of the precious gift of life,
in whatever way you would lead us. 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.
Jane Lee Leechford is an elder in the North Carolina Conference and currently serves West End United Methodist Church in the Fairway District.