Seeing God through the fence.

On Monday, our first full day on the Border Awareness Program, we had the opportunity to see first hand a small portion of the disputed fence marking our border. As we walked up to the fence, a couple of children living in the neighborhood along the fence on the Mexican side, ran up to greet us with smiles. I felt a deep disconnect in my heart. The short time we spent there, I couldn’t stop asking myself, “Where is God?” As we exchanged names and short stories, I wondered how we allowed ourselves to be “us” and “them.” Why are we separated by a barrier? We are on our side of the border, while they are on their side. Aren’t we all humans? Are we not all children of God? As Christians, we only perpetuate this idea of “us” and “them.” We consider ourselves more superior and pretend that we are all equal; equal in the eyes of God, but not in the eyes of each other. We claim a divine power that steers our moral compass while allowing injustices to happen all around us.

As a white male Christian, I am privileged. I do not have an understanding of true suffering. As privileged people, if we continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of our brothers and sisters from the south, we remain separated from God’s glory. Our ethnocentric ethos has penetrated deep into our minds and society to justify our actions to “protect” our culture and nation. We have allowed a fence to keep out those we deem not worthy to enter our comfortable society. These “criminals” will destroy all we hold dear.

When did Jesus tell us to treat our neighbors like this?

What’s happening on our border and throughout our country highlights the message separating the goats and sheep written in Matthew. Reflecting on Christ’s words, I ask myself again, regarding the border, “Where is God?”

Our nations have gathered and Christ himself didn’t need to separate us. We have done that ourselves with hundreds of miles of an 18 foot steel fence. The goats and sheep are being divided as we speak by the tens of thousands. We are not feeding the hungry migrant, or giving drink to the thirsty sojourner. No one is providing a warm welcome to the family escaping gang violence. We applaud immigrants earning a new blue jumpsuit and shackles to replace their dignity. We deny proper care to the injured and exhausted. Finally, a broken justice and immigration system imprisons the innocent.

“Where is God?”

As I stood there speaking with Carla and Ángel, I realized where God is. God is in the eyes of those children, with the families fleeing violence, with mothers faced with the decision to smuggle drugs or watch their children die. God is with those who just want to search for a better life. I’m looking at God through the fence.

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