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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pastorgraphs: "Don't Be a Hater"

E-Vangel Newsletter
Special Edition: July 3, 2014

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center

“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205
Pastorgraphs: "Don't Be a Hater"

As I watch the humanitarian crisis that has unfolded over the past weeks, I feel compelled to make a plea to my sisters and brothers of faith.
Verse of the day: Mark 10:14: “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.’”
While I am not an immigration attorney, I have had a good deal of experience working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Casa Cornelia Law Center and Catholic Charities’ Refugee Assistance, plus a close friend (unnamed) who was an executive with the immigration courts. Christ United Methodist assisted, according to ICE, over 300 Haitian refugees and asylees who came to America both before and after the awful earthquake in 2010. ICE “paroled” many of these to our care, with the commitment we would make sure they were in a safe place and made it to their immigration court hearings.  We provided food, clothing and shelter (including many who stayed temporarily in our church building). We helped them get to doctor appointments and find legal assistance.

I will never forget one phone call in 2011. A 9-months pregnant woman from Central America had crossed the border seeking asylum. She was “sleeping on a concrete floor” and literally eating only cornbread and water. ICE asked if our Ministry Center and Hispanic congregation might provide a bed and food for her. Of course, we did. A couple days after ICE paroled her to our care she delivered a healthy baby, and joined family members in Louisiana.

First, please stop calling the women and children from Central America “illegal”. They are not illegal: they are undocumented. According to the law Congress passed and signed by President George W. Bush, they are abiding by the laws of the USA. It would be “illegal” for the USA to send the refugees and asylees children back without due process. Sure, some may be returned, after they have had their due process.

Second, be careful what you say. The “Go back home” shouts in nearby Murietta reminded me of the “Go back home” I heard in the late 1950s and 1960s in Mississippi. 

I am sure there are many compassionate people in Murietta, and perhaps the folks who blocked the busses were not from Murietta. What happened in Murietta might have actually been good, but for the wrong reason. It may be the “Rosa Parks” moment in our national dialogue on immigration reform. She refused to sit at the back of the bus. Murietta told the busses to go back. Stay tuned.

Here is a thought. Our Congress refuses to even discuss immigration reform, only point fingers and blame the other party. While our government is refusing to govern, there are 300,000 churches or houses of worship in the USA. According to ICE, about 52,000 women and children have become refugees at our border since October. Many of those are family units, so this represents perhaps 25,000-30,000 families.

What if? What if just 1 out of 10 churches decided to help ONE refugee family, much like Christ United Methodist did with the Haitian refugees? Or what if 10 churches go together to help just one family?

The government is going to do what the government is going to do, regardless of the protesters, haters and fear mongers. That will not change the outcome. But our consciences should compel us to treat these “strangers” with compassion and care, which we would hope for if the situations were reversed. Is this how we would want our children treated in a foreign land? What about the Golden Rule?

For one, I just called my friends at Catholic Charities’ Refugee Assistance Program and told them to let me know how I might help, again. How about you?
DON’T BE A HATER! You might have some explaining to do on Judgment Day.

Devotedly yours, Bill Jenkins 

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