A couple nights ago, my son started to cry as he was lying in bed because someone was setting off fireworks outside and he was scared. I went into his room and lay with him in his bed. I held him and comforted him and stayed with him until he fell asleep. It made me sad and frustrated that my son felt scared in his own bed and that I couldn’t predict or control when another loud pop would cause him to tremble.
As I lay there, I couldn’t help but think about the children who have been separated from their parents at the border. The trauma and fear that they are experiencing is much greater than the sound of fireworks and yet no one is there to hold them and comfort them. My heart would be breaking to think of my children scared and alone, crying out in vain. And my heart is breaking because that is the reality for somebody’s child.
As a parent, I do all that I can to protect my children, to provide what they need, and to ensure their well-being. I deeply love my children and so I want what’s best for them. I would even say that I feel they deserve what’s best for them. My children deserve peace and quiet as they try to fall asleep. They deserve a home that is warm and safe. They deserve a quality education. They deserve food to keep their bellies full and their bodies strong. They deserve clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. They deserve healthcare when they are sick and I don’t know how to help them. They deserve teachers and caregivers who take good care of them and treat them with dignity and respect. They deserve the opportunity to pursue their dreams and become anything they want to be. They deserve the right to be kids, to play and be free. They deserve love, compassion, and grace.
If I feel that my children are entitled to these things, why wouldn’t any other child be entitled to the same things? Jesus tells me to love my neighbor as myself (Matthew 22:39) and also expands the idea of neighbor to be anyone and everyone (Luke 10:30-37). So if I want what’s best for my children, I should also want what’s best for my neighbor’s children. And if I would be heartbroken and outraged over the injustice that my child faces, I should be heartbroken and outraged over the injustice that any child faces.
Right now, there are children who have been torn apart from their parents, without the chance to say goodbye, not knowing when or if they might see their parents again. There are children, even young babies, who are crying because they are terrified and the strangers who are currently responsible for them are not allowed to pick them up and console them. There are children who are locked in cages, treated like prisoners at best and animals at worst. They are experiencing deep psychological trauma that will have lasting affects. That would not be acceptable for my children, so it’s not acceptable for any child.
These children have already lived through so much trauma before even getting to this place. They have made a long and dangerous journey across unknown land, risking their lives because it would be even riskier to stay where they came from. Many know the pangs of hunger because they happened to be born in a place where there is literally not enough food available and no opportunities for their parents to work. They have lived in fear because of the violence happening all around them. They have faced a very real threat of being trafficked or killed any day. That would not be acceptable for my children, so it’s not acceptable for any child.
The truth is that my children are very lucky. Due to a lot of factors that they had no control over, they live in a place where they experience a lot of freedom and privilege. They have everything they need and more. Most of the time, their biggest problems consist of learning to share toys or falling off their bikes. Not every child is so lucky. There are children across the world and there are children down the street, who by no fault of their own, experience things that no child should ever have to experience.
I can’t ignore the suffering of someone else’s child. I can’t be fooled into thinking that it’s not my problem because Jesus told me to love my neighbor as myself. So if it’s not acceptable for my children, then it’s not acceptable for any child.
For more info on what’s happening at the border and what you can do to help, check out this infographic. (from June 2018)
If your heart is breaking for the children in migrant detention centers, here are some ways you can help…
Pray for migrants. This 7 Day Prayer Guide is a great place to start.