Friday, May 27, 2011

25 Hour Adventure to Mexico

I am so honored to share a story from my friend Keturah's blog.

25 Hour Adventure to Mexico By Keturah Kennedy

Sometimes I wouldn’t believe my own stories if I hadn’t lived them.

One week ago I left an “American” 18 year old in Mexico.

Gio was on a bus to the Palm Desert when border patrol picked him up in Indio, CA. His bus was boarded and the riders were asked to prove their citizenship. Gio was brought to the US when he was 5 years old, attended California schools and for all intents and purposes was an American by everything except his papers. Gio is one of the best kids we’ve ever had come through our programs at Mika. He attended our after school program, has been mentored for the last five years and volunteered diligently tutoring elementary students through his last few years of high school. He currently attends Orange Coast College and helps support his family as the man of the house.

Last Friday when boarder patrol boarded his bus as he was headed to visit a friend, he was asked to produce his papers and he was detained when he couldn’t prove his citizenship. After he was intimidated and coerced to sign a voluntary departure form he was deported to a country he didn’t know at 3 o’clock in the morning. He was alone and scared.

At 3pm on Friday afternoon, myself and 3 other people drove to Mexico to help get Gio from Mexicali to Tijuana to a safe home where he could stay until further arrangements could be made. What was intended to be a 10 hour trip turned into a 25 hour adventure that included wondering the streets of Tijuana at midnight and diligently pursuing a safe place for Gio to reside.

I wish I could say everything turned out alright and everything is ok. But what is ok in this situation? I left one of my favorite kids in Mexico while I got to drive back across the border and show his mother the pictures from our journey. Everything Gio knows about Mexico he learned from the movies. Everything he knows about life took place in Orange County, California. I want to believe that the government is interested in deporting criminals and those at danger to our society and yet my experience of walking with undocumented teenagers tells me otherwise.

When will we as the people of God say enough is enough. Worshiping on Sunday morning was difficult in light of the fact that I left a child of God in a country that he didn’t know as home, and yet as a believer I have to trust that my God is greater and has a plan beyond what I can see right now.




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Immigrant Day 2011

The last 48 hours have been a complete whirl wind.

Monday night, a group of us from Solidarity headed to meet some friends in Santa Ana to catch a bus headed to our state's capitol. Once we arrived, we grabbed breakfast before taking part in the Inter Faith Prayer Service. I was honored to lead the prayer on behalf of the Evangelical Community. You can find what I shared here. One of the highlights for me was hearing Steve Li share about his incarceration last year and getting the opportunity to meet him in person. We spent lunch preparing for our afternoon visits with the Assembly members and Senators from Orange County. We were able to meet and share our thoughts on Immigration with Mimi Walters, Curt Hagman and Chris Norby, all of which were sensitive and understanding of our call for them to do the right thing! We also met with the staff of Jeff Miller and Alan Mansoor, which proved to be equally as exciting. It was so awesome to see democracy first hand and take advantage of the power we have as citizens to hold our leaders accountable. I'm already looking forward to next year, except I think I will fly...I might be getting too old for the drive all night thing.

Here are some pictures from the day!

Waiting for the bus

Sleeping on this bus proved to be impossible!

Sharing my heart for the Church at the Inter Faith Prayer Service

Proud to represent the OC!

Strategizing our Leg visits

Waiting outside one of the many offices we visited

I was so glad Viviana could join us representing her mixed status family.


Our OC Team


Although incredibly exhausting, this trip reminded me how life changing this work is and how blessed I am to be in this fight with so many exceptional people. I feel more confident than ever that we will see Comprehensive Reform in the next few years and I am really looking forward to all the Green Card and Citizenship parties we will be throwing in our neighborhood! I just hope the Church gets on board and realizes how important it is to be apart of this.

My Prayer for Immigrant Day 2011

It was such an honor to be able to lead my fellow Evangelicals in a prayer during the Inter Faith Prayer Service at Immigrant Day 2011. Here is what I shared.

It’s an honor and a pleasure to be here with you all today representing the Evangelical community. We are all here because we have a burden. We have a burden for justice either in our own life or the lives of our friends and families. Today, I am burdened by the hardships my undocumented neighbors face everyday. I am burdened by my young friend whose dad was deported less than two weeks ago and whose family lives in fear that their mom and two oldest sisters will be deported as well. I am burdened for the young man from my neighborhood who is struggling through college with the hope that by the time he graduates, things will be different. I am burdened by the dad in my neighborhood who dreads even leaving our street for fear of being stopped at the checkpoints that are frequently set up around us. But perhaps the heaviest burden I carry today is for my Christian brothers and sisters. I fear that the Church might be missing an opportunity to be what Jesus has called us to be. I fear that instead of loving our enemies, caring for the orphans, and welcoming the strangers we are busy building walls, both figuratively and literally. I am afraid that too many of my brothers and sisters make judgments about Immigrants out of fear and ignorance and they are missing an opportunity to be more like Christ by loving their neighbors as themselves. My prayer is not only that freedom and justice will spring forth for my friends and neighbors, but my prayer is also that the Church will be the revolutionary agent of love and peace it was created to be. Will you pray with me as we lift these burdens to our Lord and Savior?

God, we know that you are a God of justice. We know that you love and care so deeply for the immigrants in our community. We know that you know exactly what it feels like to be a stranger in the land and we know that your heart breaks every time a worker is taken advantage of, a family is separated, or the dream of a student is diminished by our broken system. But we also know that you have created an institution that is the answer to all of our societal problems. You created the Church to be your physical representation on earth. Lord we pray for the countless individuals and families who struggle daily to live a life of dignity in a society that tells them they are less than. We pray for your presence to be felt in the homes of each of our immigrant brothers and sisters and Lord we pray for comprehensive reform that reflects the values of your Word. But Lord we also pray for your church, for our church. We pray that you will help us to see our undocumented neighbors as you do, as your beloved creation deserving of freedom and opportunity to live life to their full potential. We pray that you will help us to boldly stand and proclaim that you love the Immigrant and because of your deep love for them, we will love them as well. Help us to turn our pity into compassion and our charity into action. Help us to fight for your justice with unconditional grace and love. Lord, help us to be the Church you intended us to be and help us to love like you created us to Love. Lord, help us to me more like you. Thank you for this opportunity to grow in our relationships with you as we engage the hurting and broken world around us. May your name be glorified through our actions today and may the freedom you talk about in your scriptures be wholly felt by all of us here and those whose stories weigh heavy on our hearts. We love you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Jesus loved Osama Bin Laden...and he loves undocumented Immigrants too.

May 1, 2011.

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

The world is celebrating?

Let me start by saying that I, as the wife of someone who lost his grandmother in the 9-11 attacks, know full well the devastation this man has caused. He did many evil things and was responsible for the loss of many innocent lives. Our society tells us that he most certainly deserves a torturous death. Our Americanism tells us "justice has been served."

But I have to ask, since when are we, as Christians, supposed to conform to the world around us? Our Jesus taught us another way. He taught us to turn the other cheek and to love our enemies. Why is it that we can preach this in such shallow contexts, but when it comes to something that challenges OUR country, we get lost in our patriotism? I am afraid far to many Christians were praying for Bin Laden's death instead of his salvation. Didn't Jesus love Osama Bin Laden? Didn't Jesus die on the cross for him, too? If we don't believe that God is big enough to save even the most evil doers, then what's the point? We should be lamenting the likely possibility that Bin Laden did not chose the love Christ had for him.

This is a blog about Immigration. So are you ready for the connection?? Here it comes....

We are Christians first. We are to adhere to the life God has called us to rather than giving in to our human flesh. Our human flesh is to protect our own, look out for ourselves, and stand against anyone who challenges our comfort. I am afraid this is the biggest block for Christians when it comes to embracing Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Simply put, people are scared.

The thing is I feel like we should be way more afraid of a meaningless and self absorbed life that happens when we lose sight of the revolutionary way God has called us to love and live. As someone who has been trying to love the "enemies" of so many Americans for a few years now, I know I would not be the person I am without these relationships. God has used my feeble attempts to love my neighbors as myself to draw me deeper into His purpose. I am so thankful for this because I have seen a small glimpse of God's Kingdom on earth. It has helped me to hope for a better way that I so desperately want everyone to see. What if we surpassed fear, ignorance, slander and mass-hysteria for the depth that comes with true faith? What if we looked at our so called enemies as Christ does?

Maybe I am idealistic, I think I am ok with that, but I am pretty confident that if we, as the Church, loved as Christ did, we would treat the "strangers among us" very differently. I also think we would not celebrate the death of someone who most likely will spend his eternity separated from God.