By Joe Kay 7-10-2018

Isn’t it marvelous hearing the stories of brave divers putting their lives on the line to save children and a coach trapped in a cave in Thailand? Our hearts are torn by the thought of these terrified children wanting nothing more than to be freed from the cave and reunited with their families. We’re also inspired by the stories of rescuers taking great risks. One sacrificed his life for children he’d never met. Many others have put themselves in great danger each day for children they don’t even know.

This is the definition of love.

One of the other good things about the rescue effort is the absence of judgement. We haven’t heard negative comments assigning blame and excusing inaction. Regardless how or why they got into this situation, these children need our help and we’re going to give it.

This is what happens when we recognize our shared humanity and find the courage to risk ourselves for others. Whenever we respond to someone’s needs with courage and compassion, we bring God’s love into the world more fully.

The rescue stories also remind me of Mister Rogers and his life’s message. He recognized every child as his own, and he responded to each one with the same compassion and commitment that he gave one of his own. In his mind, they all had the same intrinsic value. This Presbyterian minister spent his life reminding each of us that we’re a beautiful and beloved child of God — just as we are — and we deserve to be loved that way, especially when we’re in a difficult time.

We see that same spirit in the divers putting themselves at risk in the cave, responding to the trapped children as if they are their own.

It greatly saddens me to see such an opposite attitude in many people to the plight of immigrant children taken from their parents’ arms and trapped in camps around the country. This response is shaped not by goodness and an outpouring of love, but by fear and a rejection of our shared humanity.

The children in the cave need our help. The children at the border do, too. All of them are our children, without exception. Their parents deserve our help and support, too. To do anything less is to lose our souls.

When we hear about the children trapped in a cave, we recognize our kinship. We imagine how we’d feel if that was our child in such danger, and we react with love. 

What about our kinship with children at the border? Why don’t we listen to the parents’ descriptions of long, dangerous journeys undertaken to save their child’s precious, God-given life? Why won’t we hear their stories and allow ourselves to be moved with the same compassion?

Our humanity and our faith insist that we identify with a child taken from their parent’s protective arms and sent off with strangers in a foreign land with no guarantee they’ll ever feel their parent’s embrace again. Our hearts are lifeless — and our faith meaningless — if we can’t identify with such a child or such a parent.

We admire the cave divers, but they’re no different than the immigrant parents. All of them are putting their lives on the line to try to save children — something most of us never have to do. All are showing a heroism and a faith that should be admired, embraced and emulated.

We should try to be more like the cave divers and the immigrant parents.

When we create artificial distinctions between lives — those in a cave and those in a camp — we’ve wandered into a cave of our own. We become the ones lost in a darkness that deadens our hearts. We cut ourselves off from the God who is love alone. 

We become the ones who need to be saved.

Joe Kay

Joe Kay is the associate minister at Nexus United Church of Christ, Butler County, Ohio. He also writes a weekly blog at https://joekay617.wordpress.com. His email address is listed on the blog, in case you care to contact him directly.

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"In a Cave Or on the Border, They Are All Our Children"
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