As I have listened to and read news reports of the stories of the thousands of children at our borders, the words of Matthew 25 keep running through my mind:
“Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’
“Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.'”
Thousands of “the least of these,” some children as young as 3 or 4, have been apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol agents. Our Border Patrol is not equipped to take care of children and has been struggling to deal humanely with the large numbers of unaccompanied minors now in their custody. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has stepped in, but the numbers are putting a strain on resources.
Catholic Charities of Fort Worth has geared up to help and Dallas County has committed to taking in 2,000 children. Demi Prentiss, ministry developer and stewardship officer for the diocese, has been meeting with Catholic Charities personnel and will be consulting with Episcopal Migrant Ministries and Episcopal Relief and Development to map out how we might best help. Many agencies are still in the process of figuring out exactly what is needed. Please see the story our communications team has posted on our website. We will update information as it develops. I urge all our congregations to pay attention for ways we can be helpful in this crisis.
This is a humanitarian crisis, and it is imperative that we respond to it as such. Many of these children are fleeing for their lives.
So how are we to respond? As I said above, our staff is working to find the best and most effective ways for us to help. Please subscribe to all announcements from the diocesan website so you will get our updates on practical ways we can help, either with funds or with service.
And we are to pray for the children, for their families, for the government agencies and personnel who deal with them, for the relief agencies who work with them, and yes, for all those caught up in gangs, perpetrators as well as victims.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Finally, I want to encourage you to read Border Crisis is a test of Texans’ faith, the very perceptive response to this crisis by Bishop Andy Doyle of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
We as the Body of Christ are called upon to act and respond at different and difficult times in our life in the church. Some of these are tough challenges and this is one of those times. Let us respond as Jesus Christ expects us to respond, not judgmentally but compassionately.
Related: Border crisis is a test of Texans’ faith by Bishop Doyle of the Diocese of Texas
Related: Immigration Situation from Bishop Lillibridge, Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
Related: Presiding Bishop addresses crisis of unaccompanied children at the U.S. border