19 junio, 2012

“A migrant story of hope”

I want to share a story with you. It’s nothing spectacular, but it is marvelous, because it is “ordinary.” It is one of those things that is seen only when there is a genuine love for God and for the other. These ordinary stories are seen in the everyday of life, in the ordinary of a life lived for the service of God and His purposes.

Saturday morning Dad came home to tell us a story, one of many that we hear every Saturday after he returns from giving sandwiches to the migrants and indigenous people around Tijuana’s central bus station. He loves to tell us what happens and what he has experienced. “The police came and took many away without proper procedure,” “a migrant was jumped on his way to crossing the border and he is here with nothing,” “a woman came with her children and had a lot of needs,” “today we ran out of sandwiches,” “some of them are starting to trust me more and telling me more about their life,” “I see them as equals, God is changing my heart and those of others.”

The night before my dad and two of our friends were preparing the sandwiches to be passed out the following day. One of them went with my dad, as they do every Saturday, to deliver the sandwiches. That was the very first time that Henry (our friend, who has his own story of hope) shared a story from the Bible to this group of men and women. At this time a young man came, named Nelson. He was Salvadorian and barely 18 years old. After two months of traveling from El Salvador from the city of San Juan Opico, he arrived at Tijuana. But upon his arrival he was assaulted. The robbers took everything, even his shoes. Henry took off his own shoes and gave them to Nelson. They gave him food and helped him as much as they could. They invited him to our church the following day.

Nelson went to church and was connected to more ways that the church and others could help him as much as possible. My dad quickly and joyfully introduced Nelson to everyone when we arrived at our church. Our church continues to grow in hospitality as we learn to lovingly receive the migrant every Sunday. At first some in our church were resistant: “we don’t know these people,” “our kids are at risk,” etc. But slowly and surely our church has learned to see the migrant as people, as special men and women who come with very specific and strong needs. God calls us to serve and love the migrant as well. My dad has taken on this ministry, even after retiring, at 70 years of age. He thinks about them often, prays for them, and is always looking for them in Tijuana. Every Saturday he comes home and tells us how the food distribution went. Sometimes he gets sad because he wishes he could do more, but he is also full of hope as he sees people like Nelson and others from our church that are being transformed by serving others.

Well, back to the story: my dad knew that the Salvadorian consulate was in the Palacio Municipal, which happens to be near our house and our church. My dad went with Nelson to advocate for him to receive an identification card, after telling them the story of what had happened to him. My pastor was also there advocating for Nelson. The consul was surprised and appreciative of the love that others were showing to Nelson, his compatriot, someone who has nothing to give in return. My dad offered to help Nelson with protecting the original documents (leaving the copies to him), while Nelson stays in the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana. The pastor gave him a job for a couple of weeks working on construction. Without the identification Nelson would have been even more vulnerable to the police and others, and no one would have been able to identify him if something were to happen. Now he is not alone, he has people that care about him and will look out for him, while he is here. That is how it has been with others, some have stayed and others have left…

No Not all of the stories are like Nelson’s. we don’t know what will happen to him when he chooses to cross to the Unitd States. Regardless, we know that in Tijuana he is our neighbor, and the least we can do is look after him. Who is your neighbor?Who are we ignoring that are close to us with needs? What do we do as a church to help the other and those that are not easy or convenient for us to help? What do the students and professionals in the churches do to raise a voice for those that don’t have one?

(In less than two weeks a group of students and staff from InterVarsity and Compa will participate in Bordelands, a service project that seeks to challenge students to get involved in the issue of immigration through the lens of Christianity. We seek to figure out what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in its fullest form. Please pray for us!)

Si quieres leerlo en español: "Un relato migrante de esperanza"

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