Love stands in the doorway
On Sunday, March 24, Reverend R. Keith Stuart, pastor of Dover Congregational United Church of Christ in Westlake, held a very different kind of service. You see, he had traveled to Nogales, Arizona, and across the border to Nogales, Mexico, last November and had a front row seat to the so-called "Immigration Crisis." On this Sunday, he was not being political; not advocating illegal immigration or telling the congregation what their opinion should be. Instead, he simply shared his heart.
Rev. Stuart challenged the congregation think about immigration on a human level, a holy level. "Scripture never begins with policy, it begins with humanity," he stated.
When we watch the news, we hear about the illegals, the wall and how we need to protect our border. He wanted the congregation to imagine entering at a different part of the story. What if we started at the beginning of the migrant's journey?
The people of Central America want the same things we do: to take care of their families, put food on the table, be free from the threat of violence and have hope for the future. It is not easy for them to leave the country they love. It is a long, dangerous journey that they undertake; but for them there is a small hope to find a better life. They are not after the American dream, they are fleeing the violence of gangs and the lack of hope in their home country.
The migrants pay a fee to someone they do not know and travel with people they have never met across the desert; taking the chance that the guide may leave them on their own in the desert. The organization who hosted Rev. Stuart's visit is called Borderlinks. They are a nonprofit organization whose only mission is to deepen visitors' understanding of borders, migration and social justice.
Throughout the presentation, Rev. Stuart showed various photos he had taken during his visit. He showed the congregation what the wall/fence looks like. It follows the terrain of the city; in some places the wall is 40 feet tall and the iron beams are embedded 12 feet into the ground.
Written, in Spanish, on one section of the wall is this message: "Never stop protesting this wall that separates God's children."
Rev. Stuart concluded with this message: "Our hearts should reach beyond borders."
Kathleen Poe is Vice-Moderator of the Dover United Church of Christ. She is a former teacher who resides in Westlake.