A guest post by David Hasegawa who participated in our most recent Immigrants’ Journey Learning Lab…
As I stood at the wall that divides Friendship Park I was hit with a rush of emotions, the accumulated weight of the stories of injustice tipped the balance of my heart and I began to lament. On the wall are inscribed a myriad of cries for justice and pleas for empathy; the names of soldiers who served the US, but were never made citizens, some died, others were deported; we watched lovers talk to each other through the wall only their fingers able to cross the border between Mexico and the US.
The lament shook me out of the myopic world of the American dream that I’d been living in; I was forced to confront reality, I’ve been raising up the idols of career and comfort. I have become blind to those crying out for justice in the midst of great suffering. All of humanity is caught up in the effects of sin. Through our negligent blindness we perpetuate the problem. Like mold growing in the dark, our silence and inaction allow the problem to exacerbate.
Lament serves as a powerful humanizing catalyst to move us out of our houses of comfort and into a new realm, a place where we share the same sky as our suffering neighbors. It shines the light and love of Christ into the darkness of sin. It is the first small step in peacemaking.
We met Oscar Escalada, a peacemaker who took a giant leap and dedicated his life to protect deported children. His work over decades has helped to save tens of thousands of children from neglect, abuse and slavery, yet he told us that a few years into his work he realized that, “I was not saving the kids, they were saving me.”
This simple statement stayed with me the entire trip. The more I thought about it the more beautiful it became. Why? Because the story of Christ is one of reconciliation, compassion and love; when we join in the work of Christ it is not just those we assist who are caught up in that flow; we too cannot help but be transformed by the Spirit of Christ moving in, around and through us. It is like a stream flowing from heaven; in it are grace, love, mercy, peace and hope. As we accompany our suffering neighbors into the stream we too are caught up and transformed.
This experience broke through my convenient moral intellectualism; it demanded the inconvenient, that I step forward in faith and deepen, strengthen and form new relationships. Without relationship I am blind to the plight of my neighbor, without relationship, advocacy is about me. Only through relationship can I contend for the dignity of others. This experience has lead me to deepen my relationship with Christ, to cherish in gratitude what has already been given to me instead of trying to grasp at what I do not have.