I Went to the Border: How to Make Room for Christ in the Border Crisis this Giving Tuesday

I reach my hand through the wall to pray with a woman on the other side of the border.

She still has scissors in her hand.

She’d been bent and rummaging through garbage heaps, just on the other side of the wall, plucking out plastic bottles, to cut the tops off for manipulatives in her kids’ classrooms —- but she’d come near and here we are praying, me holding her hand through a slot in the border wall, while she’s standing there holding a pair of scissors.

It looks like we’re about to cut through all the noise to hear the heart of God.

Through the slats in the wall,  just past her, just behind her, a steeple’s topped with a cross. When I look over at her — I can see the cruciform symbol of the Church everywhere —- and I can see light in the woman’s kind eyes here.

The only way to see Jesus, is to look at the person across from you and see them through the Cross.

The person on the other side of things is always an image of Jesus. Christ is the one in every crisis.

And Christ is in the crisis at all the borders — and often the crisis is at the borders too of our comfortableness, at the edges of our faithfulness.

Back behind me, there’s a cross atop a mountain on this side of the wall,  facing her, and the cross atop the church on the other side of the wall.

When we make someone else into ‘the other’ — have we made for ourselves a god other than the One who died on the Cross — because He so loved the world?

She says she has 7 children. I tell her I do too. And she points at me, eyebrows raised — You too? I grin and try to joke — how we’re both mothers of one and a half dozen kids, and her and I, we laugh loud in the wind, because true, good news lets everything that destroys empathy blow away like hot air and laughs with hope at the days to come.

We are all more alike than we like to think we’re all different.

Are these the days that it’s considered a radical, dangerous act to simply see our shared humanity?

Maybe — it’s actually far more dangerous when we can’t see that. Standing in different lands, we squeeze each other’s hands.

And I’m on fire to simply ask her:

Why in the world are we all born where we are born?

Where we live has to mean more than getting something—  it has to mean that to those who have been given much, much will be required.

It has to mean that:

Those who have privilege can’t live indifferently, but are meant to live differently so others can simply live.

It has to mean that:

We are only living meaningful lives if we are helping others get to live meaningful lives.

Those seeking a meaningful life no matter where they have to go — are seeking exactly what we are. They aren’t like “animals or criminals” — they are like us.

And yes, it’s true, the world and governments are complicated, but what isn’t complicated is that every single believer has to wrestle with the fact that God commands care for the stranger more than other commandments in the Torah —- even more than the commandment to love God.

Does God command us to love the stranger more than He commands us to love Himself because loving the stranger is how we love God Himself?

God commands care for the stranger more than other commandments in the Torah —- even more than the commandment to love God. Is the reason God commands us to love the stranger more than He commands us to love Himself — is because loving the stranger is how we love God Himself?

Does the Torah instruct care for the stranger far more than it commands rest on the Sabbath or any other law at all, because God doesn’t want us to rest until all laws find ways to care for the stranger?

Esther Havens

Esther Havens

Esther Havens

I look into the eyes of the mama of 7 just like me, just on the other side of the line, who is living in a world of people who just want what we all want — a good life for our families.

The crisis at the border isn’t about violent criminals — this is about those genuinely seeking asylum from violence and criminals.

Seeking asylum isn’t a dangerously wrong thing to do — it’s a human thing to do when you’re in danger.

This isn’t about disregarding the law, but about how to regard people made in the image of God.

And this isn’t about open borders, this is about being open to the compassionate, humane treatment of  fellow human beings who are trying to make the best decisions for their families, just like we do for our families — so how to treat them like we would want to be treated?

Abraham, one of the fathers of faith, he lied at the Egyptian border, and tells his wife to lie, because he’s driven by starvation and desperation, and how can we have anything but compassion still for the same motivation?

Those who find themselves behind bars are not always against God or good laws: Sampson, Joseph, Stephen, Jeremiah, Peter, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Silas, John the Baptist, Paul and Jesus Himself, the perfecter of our faith, were all jailed for seemingly breaking a law, but man’s laws are not always God’s laws, and laws change all the time, and laws can change to reflect how our hearts are reflecting more of God’s.

The faithful always believe that there are ways to shape laws to be faithfully just and faithfully compassionate.

The faithful believe there are ways to have a deeply robust Pro-Life ethic, and be Pro-Pro-Pro:

  • Pro-life, which is to be pro-life for all life, including a refugee’s life
  • Pro-security, which is to be pro-life for all life, including every community’s life
  • Pro-flourishing, which is to be pro-life for all life, including the economic flourishing of of every community.

Believers  have to believe there are nuanced, considered ways to not create an “Either/Or“ world — but a “Pro-Pro-Pro” world.

Christians need not all agree on laws around immigration, but we all need to find real ways to move into Jesus’ kind heart toward those in need.

The woman on the other side of the wall, she pats my hand gently and I nod:

If any national citizenship is prioritized more than our citizenship in heaven, and the care of all the citizens of earth, can any of us claim discipleship of Jesus?

In that church right behind the woman’s whose hand I’m holding, I know what they read — because it’s the same thing I read:

How Jesus is compassionate to individual persons in need  — and Jesus is always passionate about the structural policies that prevent showing compassion to the persons in need (Luke 6:6-11).

We are only truly caring about people — when we care about the policies that are truly effecting people.

And I want to somehow find words and tell the woman on the the other side of the wall how I wonder which side of the fence I’m actually standing on — the one Jesus calls the Blessed:

Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who hunger and seek for rightness…  for they are on the right side of history.

Or do I stand on the side Jesus called out with The Anti-Beatitudes of the Multitudes — the 4 Woes of the Comfortable:

But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.

Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.

Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:25-26)

Woe to those who are rich in comfort now,
well fed now,
who laugh now,
who are spoken well of now…
for they are on wrong side of things for all eternity.

Esther Havens

Esther Havens

I look down at my feet on this side — and her feet on the other side.

Maybe those of us who are on the comfortable side of things now — will be on the hellish side of things for forever?

And those who are on the poor side of things nowwill be on the blessed side of things for forever?

Which side of things you are on now, decides which side of forever you are on.

I look up and look her in the eye  — and all I can hear is Jesus, sorting goats and sheep : 

Share what you have now — or you’ll have your share of woe for forever. 

And my chest’s burning with conviction and I tighten my grip on my sister’s hand on the other side of the wall, and I can hear it loud, reverberating off all the walls within, and it’s like the rocks and the ground and the crosses on both sides of the wall are crying out with the the Word of God and it’s all I can hear, standing there: 

For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.…” (Ephesians 2:14)

A moment can speak to you, cut right to the quick — if you let it.

And the woman on the others side of the wall drops her scissors into her plastic bag of bottle tops and  in a moment, what’s between us is cut right down, and my heart is cut right open. I look her right in the eye and this I know:

We can make room to love.

This Giving Tuesdaymight  you simply give the gift of your time to learn more about what is happening at borders?

Simply give the gift of time to consider what it means to Welcome The Stranger and how Christians can Biblically understand immigration.

Give just a minute or two to consider these questions about the border crisis and the asylum process from World Relief.

Give the gift of your presence for just a minute over here at the Evangelical Immigration Table and consider “a bipartisan solution on immigration that:

  • Respects the God-given dignity of every person
  • Protects the unity of the immediate family
  • Respects the rule of law
  • Guarantees secure national borders
  • Ensures fairness to taxpayers
  • Establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for
    those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents”  — check out more at the Evangelical Immigration Table 

And if you are led, this Giving Tuesday, consider giving to World Relief (check out their work here) — and support World Relief’s work to keep families together at the border.

We are only truly caring about people — when we care about the policies that are truly effecting people.

So we press in and care because we have to quietly ask:

Does the reason God command us to love the stranger more than He commands us to love Himself —- is because loving the stranger is how we love God Himself?