Evangelicals on the Border: Relationship Instead of Partisanship
"When we met the young lady in Nogales, the daddy in me wanted to take her to a safe place. My heart was broken even more than before," reflected Reverend Andy Bales, the CEO of Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. On a recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, we met with a young woman who was attempting the dangerous crossing alone. What is it about our faith that leads us to a deep connection with those who suffer?
I believe it is because we are called beyond sympathy or judgment and into relationship. Jesus taught us to cross boundaries in order to enter into relationship, that we must cross family bloodlines and nationality by the repeated call to love our neighbors and the alien as ourselves. In this, we are remembering the Lord our God who muddled up the perceived boundary between heaven and earth for the sake of that relationship. This fundamentally changes our level of response when these brothers and sisters are in need.
With the current situation on the border and Arizona, I would also challenge that this dynamic relationship transcends punitive measures and immigration enforcement that serve only to cause more pain and division in this human family -- like divisions of papers, wealth, or color of skin.
In response to the Arizona SB 1070, people of faith have been brought together across political lines. A pastor in Mexico working in an alliance for healing in the borderlands recently said that we must put aside "doctrina y creencias" (doctrine and creed) to focus on "conviviencia y unidad" (coexistence and unity). Congregations and groups who share an evangelical faith, in particular, but may differ in political views have come together to rebuke racism and fear.
This is an exciting moment to follow Jesus across lines of family, nationality, and law that destroys communities, religious doctrine, and political views. We are people of faith willing to cross these lines. We will rebuke laws that prevent our brothers and sisters from crossing those same lines; these lines have no basis in our Christian ministry that is rooted in relationship.
Maryada Vallet works with No More Deaths, a humanitarian initiative on the U.S.-Mexico border that promotes faith-based principles for immigration reform.