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Welcoming The Stranger

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to witness what “welcoming the stranger” means.

You may have seen in the news that hundreds of vulnerable migrants fleeing persecution made their way into the USA, to apply for asylum protection and were stuck between two border walls. Many of these folks were stranded with very limited access to water, food, and no shelter from the cold nights and rain for several days. 

Action needed to be taken. What started with a few concerned friends grew to a small army of strangers–from both sides of the border. We set up a support station at the border wall to provide the stuck migrants with much-needed food, water, hygiene items blankets, tarps, clothing, first aid items, and hope. These people from San Diego and Tijuana came from all walks of life to welcome the stranger. 

And suddenly, I was taken back in time to my very same scenario from over a decade ago; being welcomed while feeling very out of place. 

After living in the USA since the age of six, I was deported to Tijuana, Mexico. I was confused, out of place, and, yes, very frightened. I spoke Spanish, but with an accent that marked me as an outsider.

But I found that Tijuana was full of good people that were welcoming to me, the stranger. I soon made friends, and they introduced me to a sacred piece of land– Friendship Park. These new friends at Border Church were different. I was meeting them through a border wall at Friendship Park as we celebrated Communion together …one bread, one body

Soon I didn’t feel so out of place. I had a new community that was not allowing a border to come between new friends and families.

Time after time, migrants arrive at the border after a long and dangerous journey, full of struggles and victimization to be met with insults and threats. However, the good people of Tijuana and San Diego came to their defense and support. Providing much-needed aid. The food, clothing, hygiene items, and most importantly a welcoming smile are returned with unimaginable gratitude.

My reward is their smile. It is their blessing on me–from these precious children of God that I have the honor to serve. Just letting them know they are loved feels so good!

 

Recognizing that the situation is complex, ever-changing, and our role may evolve over time, Migration Missioner Robert Vivar has made us aware of the most desperate needs along the border that simple acts of mercy can address.

We are asking everyone that wants to assist those in distress along our border to help by offering one of three things: 1—Volunteer, 2—Give, or 3—Donate Needed Materials. Gifts of all three kinds will be directed to immediate aid efforts—whether that be those stuck between fences or those just released from detention centers. Our partners, along with state, county, and federal organizations, are daily letting us know where the most desperate needs are.

You can sign up to volunteer, give or donate materials by visiting the Migration Ministry page. Click on “How To Help” and select the option that matches your ability. Once you do, a member of our staff will be in touch to coordinate.

The pictures above illustrate the deplorable condition, these brothers and sisters had to endure. While the drawing is a gift from a young child who was asking for a ball, but all I had were crayons for him to draw with.

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Category: #Advocacy, #Migration, #Outreach, #Service

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One reply to “Welcoming The Stranger

  1. David Chavez | on May 25, 2023

    Robert, thank you for such a wonderful report. It is a joy and honor to be serving our migrating neighbors along our respective froteras. Dios te bendiga y te guarde y que haga florecer tu ministerio.

    Un abrazo fuerte a ti y todos que estas sirviendo.

    Paz,
    Padre David Chavez
    Canon for Border Ministries
    The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona

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