I imagine it’s me

I open the door, hoping that all the things I’ve heard are lies.

The creak is muffled by the sounds of sobbing. Some softly crying, some wailing, some frozen in fear, immobile and unable to understand what it happening.

“Mami! Papa!”

Repeatedly, those two words ring through my head. Different voices, different children. The same two important words.

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I imagine the pain it would take to drive me to risk this. I imagine the gangs, the violence, the hunger. I imagine debating in my head and on paper whether the risk was worth the potential reward. I imaging how terrible my life must be if I determine that is the case.

I imagine a situation where I was willing to risk their lives and mine to escape. A situation where I wanted a better life, but found myself torn from them, imprisoned and hoping for their safety.

I imagine Jaylah, 6 years old, not knowing where I was, not knowing why she was in trouble, cold and hungry and confused. I imagine her walking up to one of the adults, reaching up, needing a hug and being told that they are not allowed to touch her. I imagine her crying, scared and vulnerable.

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I imagine Jay… At 10 years old, I would most likely have told him why we were fleeing. I would have made it clear to him that this was dangerous, but it was far more dangerous to stay. He would be feeling responsible, like it was all his fault, snapping at his sister, angry that he could not protect her. He would be angry with me too. For putting him in this situation, for tearing our family apart. He would be devastated and trying to hold it all together like a little adult while his heart was tearing into pieces.

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I imagine the moment they are torn from my arms. “Mom! Mom! Where are you going? Why are they taking us? What’s happening, Mom?” I imagine my inability to answer as I am being detained.

And my heart breaks.

Yes, I have heard the defenses. Bill Clinton started it. (Are we 5 years old?) They are illegal, they shouldn’t have put their child in harm’s way (Maybe they ONLY had the choice between one harm or another). If a parent in the US commits a crime, they are separated from their children (but the government does absolutely everything in their power to keep that family together). They made a choice (which you couldn’t possibly imagine with all your privileges) .

Tell me anything you want to attempt to defend yourself and I will go back to this one question:

When did we lose our sense of humanity?

If you have a heart, weep for the children and parents.
If you do not have a heart, at least weep for the empty in your future.

I read that recently and thought it was a perfect depiction of where we are right now.

This is not a political issue, my friends. This is a heart issue. And this is NOT what the Jesus I know would have wanted.

No matter what your beliefs, no matter what your political affiliation, no matter what has happened in your life, I feel that in your heart, you KNOW the right thing. You know because you are a part of humanity.

 

“it is the obligation of every person born in a safer room

to open the door when someone in danger knocks.”

— Dina Nayeri

 

But for all those who believe the Bible, I have a bit more of a treat for you. Since the administration continues to use scripture out of context to defend the situation at the border, I thought I would share a little about the Bible I read. Pardon the sarcasm, but I am angry. Angry and heartbroken. And I think people need to hear truth.

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We call Abraham the Father of our Faith, somehow forgetting that he had to flee famine and poverty.

Moses was a refugee TWICE. Once for committing a crime in defense of his people, once when he was helping his people escape slavery and domination.

I look at the scriptures and I realize that Obed would be crying for his mama, his grandma. The story of Ruth would never have existed without the refugee status of Naomi.

Esther is upheld as a beautiful and strong woman, but we forget that she was a refugee, forced into her situation.

We love to hear the story of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, but neglect the part that God was with them even though they were displaced.

There would be nothing after Bethlehem because the refugees Joseph and Mary would not have been allowed to stray with their baby Jesus.

But let’s say that ONE refugee is okay (He is Jesus after all).

That still leaves us with no Peter. He fled due to religious persecution.

There would be no Aquila and Priscilla to take care of Paul as he traveled because they were forced to leave Rome for the color of their skin.

 

Oh wait, the stories aren’t enough… You want to know what the Scripture SAYS?

Okay, here are some verses for you to ponder.

“The LORD appeared to him by the terebinths of Mamre; he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground, he said, “My lords, if it please you, do not go on past your servant. Let a little water be brought; bathe your feet and recline under the tree. And let me fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves; then go on—seeing that you have come your servant’s way.” They replied, “Do as you have said.” Gen. 18:1-5

“Hey Refugees/Foreigners/People I don’t know, please let me serve and help you! WTF kinda life is that? We need to take care of our own first!”

“The two angels arrived in Sodom in the evening, as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to greet them and, bowing low with his face to the ground, he said, “Please, my lords, turn aside to your servant’s house to spend the night, and bathe your feet; then you may be on your way early.” But they said, “No, we will spend the night in the square.” But he urged them strongly, so they turned his way and entered his house. He prepared a feast for them and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. They had not yet lain down, when the townspeople, the men of Sodom, young and old—all the people to the last man—gathered about the house. And they shouted to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may be intimate with them.” Gen. 19:1-5

“He made them some food and let them sleep at his house?!?! He didn’t even know these people. I mean, they could have been criminals.”

There shall be one law for the citizen and for the stranger who dwells among you. Exodus 12:49

You should treat people the same whether they are a citizen or a refugee? Surely that is not in the Bible.

You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not ill-treat any widow or orphan. If you do mistreat them, I will heed their outcry as soon as they cry out to Me, and My anger shall blaze forth and I will put you to the sword, and your own wives shall become widows and your children orphans. Exodus 22:20-23

God says if you mistreat strangers, widows, orphans, he will be pissed. And bad things happen when God gets blazing angry! But, obviously, he favors us, so we can do whatever we want to people that aren’t like us.

You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt. Exodus 23:9

Just in case you didn’t hear it the last few times. Don’t be mean to the people who flee to your country, because at some point in your ancestry, your family was fleeing something.

You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the LORD am your God. Leviticus 19:10

“Wait, what?!? We are supposed to leave food or jobs or good things for people who are poor and foreign? That’s ridiculous.”

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the LORD am your God. Leviticus 19:33-34

“Maybe if we avoid the fact that the word stranger is used the way we use refugee, we could ignore this, right?!?!”

And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the LORD am your God. Leviticus 23:22

“Crap, here it is AGAIN. But the Bible has to say things a few times in order for that to be what I follow. Two isn’t enough.”

If your kinsman, being in straits, comes under your authority, and you hold him as though a resident alien, let him live by your side. Leviticus 25:35.

“I’m running out of excuses on this.”

I charged your magistrates at that time as follows, “Hear out your fellow men, and decide justly between any man and a fellow Israelite or a stranger. Deut. 1:16

“Wait, we are even supposed to treat them fairly in court?”.

…but upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and befriends the stranger, providing him with food and clothing.—You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Deut. 10:18-19

“Whatever, using that powerful word ‘must’ to try to convey the importance… Oh wait, it an even stronger word in the original text… but let’s just ignore that.”

 

You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your kinsman. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, for you were a stranger in his land. Deut. 23:8

“Oh wait, even the people who treated us badly years and years ago?”

You shall not turn over to his master a slave who seeks refuge with you from his master. He shall live with you in any place he may choose among the settlements in your midst, wherever he pleases; you must not ill-treat him. Deut. 23:16-17

“This is too much.” For real though… I think I have proven my point to some extent. But if not, here are a few more.

Cursed be he who subverts the rights of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.—And all the people shall say, Amen. Deut. 27:19

Or if a foreigner who is not of Your people Israel comes from a distant land for the sake of Your name—for they shall hear about Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm—when he comes to pray toward this House, oh, hear in Your heavenly abode and grant all that the foreigner asks You for. Thus all the peoples of the earth will know Your name and revere You, as does Your people Israel; and they will recognize that Your name is attached to this House that I have built. I Kings 8:41-43

Learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice; Aid the wronged. Uphold the rights of the orphan; Defend the cause of the widow. Isaiah 1:17

No, this is the fast I desire: To unlock fetters of wickedness, And untie the cords of the yoke. To let the oppressed go free; To break off every yoke. It is to share your bread with the hungry, And to take the wretched poor into your home; When you see the naked, to clothe him, And not to ignore your own kin. Isaiah 58:6-7

No, if you really mend your ways and your actions; if you execute justice between one man and another; if you do not oppress the stranger, the orphan, and the widow; if you do not shed the blood of the innocent in this place; if you do not follow other gods, to your own hurt—then only will I let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers for all time. Jeremiah 7:5-7

Thus said the LORD: Do what is just and right; rescue from the defrauder him who is robbed; do not wrong the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow; commit no lawless act, and do not shed the blood of the innocent in this place. Jeremiah 22:3

Fathers and mothers have been humiliated within you; strangers have been cheated in your midst; orphans and widows have been wronged within you. Ezekiel 22:7

And the people of the land have practiced fraud and committed robbery; they have wronged the poor and needy, have defrauded the stranger without redress. Ezekiel 22:29

But [first] I will step forward to contend against you, and I will act as a relentless accuser against those who have no fear of Me: Who practice sorcery, who commit adultery, who swear falsely, who cheat laborers of their hire, and who subvert [the cause of] the widow, orphan, and stranger, said the LORD of Hosts. Malachi 3:5

No sojourner spent the night in the open; I opened my doors to the road. Job 31:32

Thus said the LORD of Hosts: Execute true justice; deal loyally and compassionately with one another. Do not defraud the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; and do not plot evil against one another. Zechariah 7:9-10

The LORD watches over the stranger; He gives courage to the orphan and widow, but makes the path of the wicked tortuous. Psalms 146:9

Here are some ways to help:

 

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) – https://m.facebook.com/donate/490507544717085/

The Texas Civil Rights Project is looking for people who can speak Spanish to translate for families as well as volunteers to assist with the legal intake process. Here’s their website: https://texascivilrightsproject.org

The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) tries to “prevent wrongful deportations by connecting refugee families to community support and emergency legal aid.” They’re currently looking for donations, volunteer attorneys, and interpreters. You can find them at: https://asylumadvocacy.org

The Florence Project and Refugee Rights Project provides free social and legal services to immigrants being detained in Arizona. They’re looking for donations and lawyers willing to take cases pro bono. You can visit them at: https://firrp.org

And finally, sign petitions. All of us can do this and it doesn’t cost a thing. Petitions allow us to make our collective voice heard by politicians as well as asylum seekers and other people living in fear of their families being torn apart by ICE.  Here are just a few that you can add your voice to.

https://action.aclu.org/petition/separating-families

https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/tell-secretary-nielsen?source=da

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/end-family-separation

https://act.credoaction.com/sign/no_family_separation

https://www.dailykos.com/campaigns/petitions/add-your-name-to-dhs-secretary-nielsen-stop-separating-migrant-families-at-the-borde

 

 

 

 

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About Shannon Joy

I am a single mama with two incredible munchkins. I confuse most people and the deeper you delve into the rabbit hole, the more lost you will become. I pray a lot, work a lot, learn a lot, volunteer a lot and tend to do a lot... I love my life. The past few years have been an incredible journey, full of ups and downs. Thankfully, I have made the choice to see challenges as opportunities and it makes me so much stronger than I ever thought possible. I love to write and paint and feel that being creative is my God-given talent. I am so excited to share my life and experiences with you. Although I am a diamond in the rough, I known that I am being chiseled and hewn by God's grace and my own perseverance. I love comments and feedback, so please send a little love when you can. I will always try to respond personally and in a timely fashion.
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