I don’t think they love their children any less than I love my own, which tells me something about what their lives must be like, to send their babies away. Their children stream northward in droves—as many as 60,000 this year—and we don’t want them. We don’t want their skin lesions and their hungry bellies, we don’t want their parents and aunts and uncles likely to follow, we don’t want them taking our jobs and clogging our classrooms and driving without insurance on our roads. We have no place for them in our country and certainly not in our hearts.
I understand there are political and economic realities that don’t go away just because I feel pity. One political party sees in immigrants a chance to build its permanent dominance; the other fears destruction. The accountants, meanwhile, see fiscal disaster. We’re already trillions in debt, with unfunded liabilities that will bankrupt many unsuspecting communities in the coming decade. Worse still, a lower portion of Americans have jobs than at any time in recent memory. People are scared, and they are angry.
So some of them do all they know to do, when they see busloads of hungry immigrant children barreling into their communities. They form barricades, and they tell them to go home. They’re shouting at the accompanying phalanx of federal bureaucrats as well, but I don’t suppose that nuance is understood by the children looking fearfully at them through the bus windows. “We don’t want you here!” a man shouts. I suppose he speaks for a good many of us.
The U.S. government estimates 60,000 immigrant children this year. There are over 300,000 churches in America, most of them hewing to a mission of spreading some kind of good news. What good news? Salvation. The coming kingdom. A God whose will, we pray, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
And what is his will? That’s not for me to say, but it is for me to ask, and for you to ask. It’s for us to ask, and then to listen. Are we listening, we who spend millions to travel overseas carrying the Gospel to the lost, now that God is sending tens of thousands of them our way?
I know there are geopolitical practicalities that transcend the priorities of my stupid bleeding heart, but 300,000 churches and 60,000 children.
What if, instead of greeting the federal agents with protest signs, we greeted them with petitions? Give us these children. We will feed them, we will clothe them, we will give them shelter. We will teach them and we will pray over them. Their parents, God help them, sent them away, and now here we stand to make good on the faith or hope or desperation in which those mothers and fathers sent them forth. Give us these children, and we will find a way. We will show mercy, because while we can scarcely agree between ourselves on anything else, we agree that the kingdom of heaven includes a hand stretched out in love.
It’s utterly impractical, I know. But how have we done so far, Christians, with practicality? For Christ’s sake, let’s not be known for our practicality.