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Migration Missive

This is the first in a series of regular updates from our Diocesan Migration Missioner, Troy Elder, who can be reached at telder@edsd.org.  For further information about the Migration (formerly Border) Missioner position, please visit https://edsd.org/news/edsd-to-add-new-border-missioner.


Missions, Fields, and Borders


Orthodoxy and history suggest that Protestant mission involves a Christian protagonist crossing an international boundary into something called the “mission field,” in order to evangelize, serve, or both.    But what does it mean for our discipleship when the sending is reversed, and the mission work comes to us?    And when it does so from a variety of sources, and seemingly all at once?


When I began to write this a month ago, I thought I had a respectable handle on the first question.  The refugee “flows” from Central America at our southern border had, for a number of years, assumed a certain regularity.    Working in the national immigration “field,” and physically in places like Tijuana and Mexicali but also in destination cities across the United States, I’d probably somewhat internalized a paradigm shift: through imperfect attempts to embody Christ’s love by advocating for and serving newcomers, I had become the evangelized.


And then came August 2021.   In the space of a few short weeks, tragedies in Haiti and Afghanistan dominated the headlines, displacing news of the swells from Central America.  They provided horrific fresh examples of forced displacement, of course, but also eclipsed adverse U.S. court decisions and policy changes that, once again, now threaten to strand asylum-seekers just a few miles to our south in some of the most murderous cities in the hemisphere.    Hope-filled Exodus narratives yielded to the heartbreaking laments of Job.


What then, is one to do?   In this space, in this ministry, and in the months to come, I doubt I’ll have any simple or particularly satisfactory solutions.   I do know that I will pray for humility, strength, and perseverance.


I will say that, in my 20+ years of working with refugees, it feels as if the Afghan evacuee crisis is unique in its scope, character, and, perhaps, its claims upon us as Christians.  Following consultation with Bishop Snook, I’ll be including assisting with our Diocesan response to the Afghan crisis in my role as Migration Missioner.   In the coming weeks, I suspect much of this will involve coordination with church partners such as Episcopal Migration Ministries, particularly as the Afghan refugee flow becomes more ascertainable and their needs become more apparent.   (For ways you can act to help Afghan refugees now, as well as with respect to Haiti and other pressing issues, please consider the suggestions Bishop Snook offers in her August 18 communication to the Diocese:  https://edsd.org/news/join-me-in-prayer-for-the-world/.)


Moving forward,  I am eager to meet you in this and the many other liminal spaces in which we Christians are called to dwell.   I invite your collaboration; so many hands, feet, and prayers are going to be needed.

Category: #Advocacy, #Outreach, #Salt and Light

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