As I have been traveling across the state educating clergy about immigrants in their communities and facilitating discussion through the Clergy Breakfast tour, I have heard from some amazing people: health workers, school outreach workers, community organizers, pastors and attorneys. This past week at the Clergy Breakfast in Black Mountain I was blessed to hear from Natalie Teague, an immigration attorney in Asheville. Natalie had just returned from Artesia, New Mexico, where she had been working with a group of attorneys to serve women and children who are being detained at the border. She told stories of women and children who were being denied medical care, interpretation and due process, and who just wanted someone to tell their story to. She said, “These children and fleeing from terrorists, and then we are treating them as terrorists when they come here.” Natalie is determined to speak out about what is happening in our country along our border. You can read her blog, listen to her on WUNC, and she would be happy to do presentations in your church.
This past week I have been reminded how easily our collective memory is discarded. Children at the border are no longer in the news; however, they continue to be held in detention centers with untenable conditions as they await their trials. Likewise, this past week it was announced that the 43 Mexican students who had disappeared from a rural teachers’ college in Mexico’s Guerrero state had actually been kidnapped, executed, and thrown in a river, and no one has been held accountable. Students who are studying to be teachers are being massacred in Mexico. Children are fleeing this kind of violence and are being treated as criminals in our country. This is a moral issue and not just a political occasion to use in furthering our own agendas.
I found this prayer in the back of the UMC Book of Worship, and it reminded me of these children: small, obscure, insecure, hidden away where most people fail to look. Let us remember these children and their prayers as we join together in prayer:
Give us, Señor
Give us, Señor, a little sun, a little happiness, and some work.
Give us a heart to comfort those in pain.
Give us the ability to be good, strong, wise and free,
So that we may be as generous with others as we are with ourselves.
Finally, Señor, let us all live as your own one family. Amen.
— A prayer painted on a church wall in Mexico, (United Methodist Book of Worship #465)