A Border, Two Pastors, and One God

$5,000 to $7,000

The local pastor and I were standing in view of Mexico’s border with the United States. The pastor knew the local neighborhood well. He knew the people-their joys and their struggles. For most, the biggest struggle was making ends meet for their family. Surviving each day. Our group was there building an 11×22 house that would house six people, including extended family. We were discussing immigration and why some attempt to cross the border without going through the proper immigration procedures. The numbers he shared were the approximate cost of doing so. Statistics tell us that very few people have that kind of money sitting around.

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They work most of the day, sometimes all day, and make very little. Sometimes even as low as $20 per day. They only want to care for their families

He was referring to the work ethic and schedule that most people in this neighborhood keep. Many of them work at large, American-owned factories that produce products we use daily. If these factories were located twenty miles to the north, the pay scale and safety conditions would be much different.

This conversation from a couple of years ago continues to play through my spirit. A pastor from a border community in Mexico and the other (me) from an affluent, suburban community in Atlanta. Both of us with the honor and privilege of shepherding fellow children of God. In many ways, the people we serve aren’t all that different. Much of the difference has been created by us, not by God. As we talk, something looms large over us. It’s the large mountain that serves as the border between Mexico and the United States. For good measure, they built a fence at the top of the mountain, just in case. God has put us together, yet we have chosen to divide ourselves.

I recognize the need for and why we have national borders. However, let’s not forget that borders are largely human made rather than God made and can lead to false divisions among humanity at best and horrible treatment of fellow children of God at its worst. We see this in the separation of children from their parents at the border, along with the language used by this administration and others, is unconscionable. This is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of spirituality and basic human decency.

I’ve thought often about what it would be like if my pastor friend and I switched places. It’s not far-fetched to think that experiences could be switched. Perhaps we would treat one another better if those born on third base didn’t act like we hit a triple. Maybe we would appreciate our shared humanity.

The people here would do anything for their families, even risking their own lives so that their children can have a better life.

Just as he tells me this, a group of children runs by us. Laughing, cutting up with one another. I think about my own children, who aren’t that different from these kids, except for place. What type of world have we created when parents must risk their lives so that their children can have a better life?

The local pastor is called away; maybe one day it will be better. I hope to God that is coming. I hope to God.

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