A Pastoral Response to the Border Crisis

by Rev. Dana Allen Walsh and Rev. Alex Shea Will

As the weeks go on, it is becoming increasingly clear that we, as a nation, are witnessing a humanitarian crisis on our southern border. Thousands of children of God are seeking entry into our country to flee violence and poverty. News outlets have provided harrowing accounts of disturbing facility conditions for children as young as babies in diapers. While we do not have policy suggestions for our leaders, we do have scripture to guide our response:

You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 10:19

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 19:34

Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.’ Then all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
Leviticus 27:19

For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.
Jeremiah 7:5-7

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Matthew 25:35

Even with these verses in mind, the most compelling reminder might be Jesus’ response when asked which of the commandments is the greatest.

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Matthew 22:37-40

At the end of the day, after all the chapters and verses in the Bible, following Jesus comes down to two central commands: Love God; love people. When feeling overwhelmed by a problem, such as when considering what is happening at the border, we often lean on those commands to guide our next steps. Love God; love people. If you are feeling called to extend love to those on the border as our nation discerns what to do, we want to offer your suggestions as to how you might help.

Reach out to your elected officials
No matter their political affiliation, write to your elected officials and encourage them to join you in “loving your neighbor” by enacting policy to ease the suffering of those in detention on the border. Follow this link to find your representative in Congress.

Make a Donation
There are many organizations doing good work amidst this crisis. We want to recommend two.

  • Save the Children Their work can best be described by their CEO, in a recent press release: “I urge Congress to provide additional funding to radically improve the conditions in the detention centers and call on the Administration to put protecting children in its care as its top priority. This is about young lives, not politics—don’t choose sides, choose children.” Follow this link to read more about Save the Children and make a donation.
  • RAICES In their own words, “RAICES is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.” You can donate to RAICES as a whole, or support the targeted “Legal Representation, Education, and Advocacy Fund” (LEAF) for Unaccompanied Children.

Before we open our wallets or call congress, let us bow our heads in prayer. Pray for the strength to speak truth in love. Pray for the courage of our convictions. Pray for those whom we’ll speak with who serve on our behalf. Pray for those who will attempt to put our donations to work as tangible expressions of our love. Pray for those whose hearts have hardened like pharaoh. Pray that we might truly live in our church vision to boldly embody God’s love and compassion. And pray that God might bring healing and hope to our siblings who suffer on the border.