Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Tuesday August 5, 2014 – Sanctuary
Linda Kowatch

We left Indianapolis yesterday and arrived in Sahuarita, AZ around 7:15am today.  While the drive was 28 hours long, it was just the beginning of the pilgrimage on which we find ourselves.  Good Shepherd UCC is a wonderful place to call home this week.  We thank them for their offer and gift of hospitality.  After resting a bit and showering (which we really needed), we went to Ricon UCC in Tucson where Rev. Tracy Hughes welcomed us and led us in a liturgy and prayer that included these words:  Remind us that in your eyes there are no borders, only a great big world of your children whom you love without exception
Rev. Hughes took us through an orientation for what we would experience this week.   She has planned an amazing itinerary for us.  We can’t thank her enough! She described the people we would meet and the work they do.  She prompted our thinking by providing questions to ask ourselves as we move down each path this week.  Then we began meeting amazing people that care for God’s children day in and day out through the Sanctuary Movement. 

The first person we met was Kathe, who is one of the original Sanctuary Movement members.  She shared stories regarding providing safe passage to migrants in the 70’s and 80’s and continues today.  We then met Pastor Alison Harrington from South Side Presbyterian Church, who is part of the New Sanctuary Movement.  As a congregation South Side provided sanctuary for one brother in Christ and now is preparing to do the same for our sister, Rosa.  While Kathe presented the genesis of the Sanctuary Movement, Rev. Harrington gave us of a glimpse of the New Sanctuary Movement.
Next we  had a conference call with Rev. Ken Heintzelman from Shadow Rock UCC in Phoenix.  He explained how the Shadow Rock Congregation is learning what it means to be part of the Sanctuary Movement.  What a wonderful witness of taking a congregation through an act of civil disobedience for obedience to God’s call.

The final presentation of the day was by Blake Gentry, a volunteer with Casa Mariposa.  HE shared explained the cause of the current immigration crisis that we are facing.  He also showed us the patterns of immigration that are occurring.  He shared with us the other side of the story that we are not getting from our politicians and media.  Lastly Blake talked about the real crisis the refugees are facing once escaping the violence in their own countries: the border patrol.

We finished our day debriefing at a Guatemalan Restaurant in Tucson.  The owners of the restaurant were one of the first families that were provided Sanctuary when they came to the States.  

Last night around 3:30am as my fellow pilgrims and I were driving along a very dark road in a state foreign to me, God prompted me to think about my brothers and sisters in the desert following the migrant trail into the US.  The discomfort I was feeling was minimal compared to the feelings they must be facing.  That’s what I thought last night. Tonight as I look up into the vast sky filled with stars, I wonder what stars my brothers and sisters in the desert see?  Do they even see the stars?  Tonight I am praying that God will show me ways I can help provide sanctuary for the 200 children that were placed throughout Indiana in the past month.  God help us all find ways to provide sanctuary for our brothers and sisters.

Tomorrow we will be crossing the border into Mexico...

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