In case it’s not clear, the picture is a bullet hole.
It’s a bullet hole in the parish house wall. It’s a bullet hole you walk past, every day, every trip from your room to the outside world.
We were told that it dates to the time of the Salvadoran Civil War. And, when we saw it in 2005, the good news was that that violence was had ended years ago.
However, the story is much different now. We’re told there are many more bullet holes in walls all around the Maria Madre neighborhood. Rival gangs have carved up the area. The police either can’t, or won’t, do anything about them. The gangs deal in drugs and they seek to recruit neighborhood children.
My point in posting this picture is simple. A little later this morning, I’ll engage in a non-violent action here that some might find a little crazy. We may end up in jail for standing up for immigrants today, in front of the White House. But, the reason I feel passionately about this cause is that I’ve seen the violence and poverty in El Salvador, first hand.
We’re told that many of the Central American children coming to our border are from El Salvador.
In response to this, I have heard have a dozen well-meaning friends say, “But, Eric, I’d never ever send my child, unaccompanied, for thousands of miles to strange land.”
And, maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe I wouldn’t.
But ask yourself a question: Does the neighborhood church near you have bullet holes in the wall?
There’s a better-than-average chance it doesn’t. And that means that you, me, and almost everybody you can meet on our streets, can’t fathom the constant state of violence and abuse in daily Central American life.
So, today, I stand up for these children, because I believe I understand why they would come to our border, and I believe God is calling us to welcome them. They are refugees from violence.
One of the best interviews on this in recent years has been with journalist Sonia Nazzario, who retraces steps she made through Central America some years ago, and finds that the violence is shockingly worse than it use to be. Click here to watch her interview.
But today, I also stand up to insist that we stop separating families. We cannot continue to destroy families the way we do now. President Obama has deported more people than any other US president. And now, because of the “border crisis,” some are calling for the pace to speed up even faster. This the wrong response. In fact, we are hoping that President Obama will expand deferred action to an even larger pool of applicants.
For a fuller understanding of the spiritual and Biblical warrant for these views, check out this statement from my friend Owen Ross and me.
I ask for your prayers today.
I seek to to stand up for those who have no voice, and follow the example of Jesus.
(I’m told today’s action will be live streamed beginning at Noon Eastern time. Click here to watch live…)