One of the hot button topics in the news over the past few days has been the recent surge of children traveling mostly from Central America, trying to find safety in the United States, looking for a better life. Many have weighed in on this problem, most much more wise than myself, giving opinions on what should happen. While this has been happening, I’ve been in multiple conversations with people in my own faith community about what we should do to respond. And no matter what side these conversations take, all arguments make sense. The most important question thought in these conversations is, what would God have me do? I admit, I have no real answers, and I probably don’t even understand the complexities of the problem enough to begin to give a real answer. But I share these thoughts to add to the conversation.
First, we must remember, these are children we are talking about. They are not illegal aliens, they are children made in the very image of God. (How can one made in the image of God ever be considered an illegal alien? It is such a derogatory term that it should never be spoken or used to describe another image bearer of God.) These are children, on their own, trying to navigate their way along a dangerous road and arriving in a place where they do not speak the language and have to figure out a way to eat and sleep and take care of themselves. That would be hard enough for me to do, but these are children. In the past couple of days all three of my children have needed me to help them navigate life. My oldest child had five teeth pulled and needed her daddy to help her stay strong. My middle child called sobbing because her feelings were hurt and needed me to help calm her emotions and help her make sense of what was going on. My youngest is just a baby and can’t even get out of the crib in the morning without my help. I can’t imagine them being on their own trying to navigate life in a foreign place. These children must be scared, alone, and confused. Should they be trying to sneak into a country illegally? Probably not, but they can’t possibly understand the legal ramifications of what they are doing. Their position in our country makes them the least of these, and God’s people have always been called to take care of the least of these. These children deserve to be loved and cared for; fed, clothed, and given shelter because they are the vulnerable.
But ultimately what should happen to these children? Should they be taken into foster care or adopted by families? Should they be deported back to their own countries? How can the United States afford to take care of all of these children? The United States can’t just disregard all of its laws? What should happen? I honestly don’t know.
I am a citizen of the United States. I was born a citizen of the United States. I don’t always appreciate the privileged status I have as a natural-born citizen. Compared to the rest of the world I have always eaten off of a silver plate. I’ve had an easy life. In that sense it seems pretty shallow of me to tell others, “don’t break the law and cross the border” or “stay in your own country” while I sit in my place of privilege and judge their motives. If the roles were reversed, would I risk it all for a chance at a better life? Would I risk it all at the chance that my family could have a better life? If I knew I could never get in legally, would I try to cross the border anyway? I don’t know the answers to those questions and I’m not in a position to probably ever give an answer to those questions. But, I should not be so quick to judge.
Again, I don’t know what the position of the United States Government should be. I am a citizen of the United States so in some sense it affects me even though I am not in a position of power to make a decision. But even more importantly, I am a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. And my citizenship in the Kingdom outweighs my citizenship to my country. I believe Jesus would love these children and care for these children. Whether they should be in this country or not does not matter. The fact is they are here and they need to be cared for. They need someone to hold them and tell them they are loved. They need someone to offer them compassion and a smile. They are scared and alone, missing their parents and family they have left behind. Let the politicians worry about the legal ramifications, we need to be about the task of caring for their needs. Caring for needs could eventually lead to adoption, but it at least means a smile and a warm place to sleep. God’s people need to take action to care for children in need.
Jesus said, “when you took care of one of the least of these, you did it for me.” (Matthew 25:40)