Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Pilgrim Testimomy: Answering the Call

The Struggle of the Call by Linda Kowatch

I got the call today.  It was the call from my pastor telling me that she was going to the Arizona/Mexican Border to bear witness to the 57,000 children that have come to the U.S. seeking safety and a better life.  She and John Vertigan, the minister to the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the UCC, were going to drive 27+ hours to the border next week.  “Are you in?” she asked. 

I was confused and stunned and petrified all in one minute.  “Wow! Are you crazy? You mean, ME?” I thought.  I didn’t dare say that out loud.  I just hesitated and listened.
She continued, “I am taking Tyson (her son) and I think Jen is going too.  We will go down to see what is happening and help, in any way we can, the children that are coming across the border.  What do you think?  Do you want to go?” 

I was still lost for words.  And all in that split second I experienced the struggle of Jacob with God.  Was I ready to drive all that way? Was I ready to be in the heat of the desert?  Was I going to step up and love my brothers and sisters in Christ?  Was I going to love people that I didn’t know?  Was I going to give up a week of my summer vacation?  Was I going to be the voice for the voiceless like others have done for me in the past?  Was it really necessary for me to go?  Was this the opportunity for me to love as God intended?
 “Yeah, maybe.  Give me a little time to talk to a couple of people and I will get back to you.”  And the call ended... the telephone call I mean. 

The CALL continued.  Have you ever known in your gut the right answer to the question, but your head was much smarter?  Your brain made you hesitate and try to come up with a better answer so you wouldn’t have to make a commitment.  All afternoon I wrestled.  In recent months I had been praying about immigration and even protested at my Representatives Office to encourage her to act on behalf of those needing a secure place to live with their families.  Now I was presented with the opportunity to see with my own eyes the plight of children being sent by their families alone to a foreign country because life was too dangerous at home.   I must admit that I was praying that I would love as God intended, but only as long as it was within my comfort zone.  The wrestling continued.

My gut kept saying, “Go! Love all of God’s children! Hear and see their stories. Love them!”  But my head kept asking questions like, “Is this really necessary?  How will this be different than seeing the cardboard homes in Tijuana that you’ve already seen? Or the poor neighborhoods and kids in your own town?  What if things get really scary down there?”

But my gut continued, “ These are not just numbers coming across the border illegally into the United States.  These are people that are your brothers and sisters.  These are God’s children that are fleeing from dangerous times.  Would you turn away your own brothers and sisters?” 

My head was catching up.  While I still needed time to accept the discomfort I would experience riding in a car for 27 hours, sleeping on the floor, being hot, sacrificing a week of my summer vacation, being in an unknown setting and missing the comforts of my life; I knew that my discomforts were nothing compared to those of the children sleeping in a foreign land without their families. 

Now my head caught up to my gut.  My thoughts started racing, “When else will you get the opportunity to be with real followers of Jesus like those in the Sanctuary Movement or those from Church World Service that are on the front lines?  How much, or how little, is this trip really costing you?  If your biological brothers and sisters were hanging on for life, would you not go to them immediately?  These are your brothers and sisters in Christ whose voices are being silenced. What can you do?”  The struggle of the call was over.

I am headed to the Mexican Border. I am going to bear witness to the plight of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am going to try to love them as Jesus would love them.  I am going to see and listen to their stories.  Maybe, by my following the call and using my voice and resources, others will hear the call and use their voices and resources.   Then maybe our brothers and sisters will be strengthened and be able to love others as they were loved.  

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