May Prayer Partner: Praying for Those at the Border
As the program director for World Relief Southern California in San Diego, I firmly believe in the biblical call to love and welcome others as I have been so loved and welcomed when I was a stranger. This belief stems not only from my own story of being welcomed by Jesus, but also because I am the descendant of immigrants (like most of us) that were welcomed to the U.S. My mother arrived by herself in a small town in the South on a nursing visa during a time when her neighbors had only ever known white or black residents in their community. But she was graciously welcomed in by one elderly woman that brought my mom into her home and her faith community at her church. This welcome that my mom received is what I grew up seeing my mom reciprocate time and time again throughout my childhood and have had the opportunity to reciprocate in my own home with my children.
Being located so close to the border has provided the church here with a unique opportunity. Not only is San Diego home to a large, bustling, and well-established refugee and immigrant community, it is also a gateway to the nations that are arriving through the border. Interestingly enough, record low U.S. refugee admissions and inaccessible refugee pipelines have led to an increased number of desperate and displaced people taking land routes to find safety. We have not only seen Central Americans and South Americans, but also Haitians, Iranians, Afghans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Russians, Ukrainians, Angolans, Congolese, and Chinese many of which have made the perilous (and for some deadly) trek on foot through the Darien Gap, one of the most dangerous migration routes, from South America to the San Diego border to seek asylum.
I have had the privilege to sit with and hear the stories of many of these brave and resilient men and women that made this trek. Some were persecuted Christians whose countries had been ravaged, where their conversions to Christianity were punishable by death, who had walked with their young families and elderly parents from South America to San Diego to ask for asylum in the U.S. One woman had only been baptized two weeks prior to her underground church being discovered and all church members arrested except for her because she happened to be 20 minutes late due to her son’s dentist appointment. She has not heard from any of her fellow church members that were arrested since she had to flee a year and a half ago.
With the lifting of Title 42, it is important for us as followers of Jesus to be aware and accurately informed about what is happening at the border and in the world beyond our borders. Please take some time to listen to World Relief and the EIT’s webinar regarding Title 42.
Take some time to ask the deeper questions: what is happening in these countries that people are fleeing that would drive them to leave? And what can we do?
The truth is what is happening at the border is indicative of what is happening in the world. What we are seeing at the border is a direct result of what is happening in these countries – war, civil war, human rights violations, political changes, poverty, globalization, natural disasters, famine, unlivable climate change, and genocide, to name a few things that are impacting the origin countries of migrants today. I have been reminded by my Afghan and Syrian friends that in their countries, they would wake up in the morning and wonder if they would die today. What a sobering reminder that our brothers and sisters from around the world have vastly different realities than ours.
My encouragement to you is that there is something you can do about it, individually and with others. Take some time to personally, intentionally pray as you watch the news this evening. Pray for each of the countries that I listed above, pray for their government, the local church in that country, for the safety of those that at the border. Pray for those that have arrived in the U.S. and are beginning their asylum claim process. Pray for churches and organizations that are ministering to those that are arriving. Pray for lawmakers and Border Patrol.
If you’d like to join others in corporate prayer, the Evangelical Immigration Table will have a virtual prayer time on Tuesday, May 30 at 3:30 PM ET/2:30 PM CT/1:30 PM MT/12:30 PM PT. You can add the call to your calendar or simply click here to join the Zoom call at that time.
San Diego Program Director
World Relief Southern California
P.S. While the church has a key role responding to the dynamics at the border on the ground, we also can allow our faith to influence how we think about public policies. This week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill that both aims to improve border security and to allow undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. the chance to pursue legal status and eventual citizenship. Here’s a response from the Evangelical Immigration Table.