Like many of you, I breathed a sigh of relief when the order was signed last Wednesday ending the policy of separating refugee children from their parents at the border. That sigh of relief lasted only about 5.8 seconds for me, because there is still so much weighing on my heart and mind.
- I still live in a country where this practice of family separation was allowed to exist in the first place.
- I still live in a country where the Bible was used to defend this practice of family separation.
- I still live in a country where there are over 2,000 children who have not yet been reunited with their parents. (Let that number sink in for a moment. Even 1 child separated from their parent is too many. The last figure I read was 2,400 children.)
Yes, I am so glad that steps are being taken to end this practice. However, it is not enough. Immediate steps need to be taken to reunite the separated families. And beyond the immediate, we need to take a good, hard look at why this practice was considered an acceptable thing to do. And why the Bible was dragged into the middle of the debate.
The Jesus I follow taught about loving one’s neighbor. The Jesus I follow taught about caring for the least of these. The Jesus I follow shared meals with outcasts, touched lepers, and welcomed children.
A couple days ago, I taught a Bible study where we read Matthew 18:1-5. In this passage, Jesus encourages his disciples to not only welcome children, but to become like children. I explained that this was an incredibly radical statement, because in Jesus’ time, children were considered the lowest of the low. I heard myself saying, “Back then, children were not cherished like they are today. Children were not considered precious and beloved like they are today.” I then had to stop myself. Was I working with the wrong assumption? Because a quick glance at the news would indicate that children are still considered the lowest of the low in this country. They certainly have not been treated as precious and beloved at our border.
I want to live in a country where all people are considered precious and beloved. Because we are. We are each precious and beloved children of God. The Jesus I follow taught me that. And the Jesus I follow also taught me that when people are not being treated as precious and beloved, I need to do something about it. So breathe your sigh of relief, and then let’s keep doing. Keep praying, keep contacting our elected officials, keep donating to organizations on the ground at the border. (I have chosen to donate to Together Rising - togetherrising.org – but there are several reputable organizations from which to choose.) Through our words and our deeds, may all people know how precious and beloved they are.