My journey into the immigrant rights movement wasn’t really planned. After college, I didn’t really know what I wanted in my life. So, like many young Presbyterians, I decided to join the Young Adult Volunteer Program, or YAV, as a way to figure out where God was calling me after university. After a long period of discernment and conversation, I ended up serving in Agua Prieta, Mexico, along the U.S.-Mexico border.
My time at the border was a powerful time in my life, and many different stories have stuck with me from that time. Part of my role in Agua Prieta was to guide folks along the U.S.-Mexico border, where we discussed the history and purpose of the U.S.-Mexico border. One question in particular that my supervisor, Mark Adams of Frontera de Cristo, would always ask has stuck with me since working there.
We would stand along the border in the shadow of the twenty-foot border wall, and reflect on what that border means to us, and how we are feeling in that moment. And then Mark would ask, “Now what are some of the borders in your own lives or your own communities?”.
People would then begin to list things that separate them within their own community: railroad tracks dividing the town into “good” and “bad” parts; roadways and highways, like I-35, that divide cities; stairs that prevent folks with different abilities from joining a class or discussion; language barriers; and the fear of the unknown, or fear of people who were different from us.
Mark would ask that question because he wanted people to realize something. He wanted them to realize that borders and barriers exist regardless of where we live. They may not always involve 20-foot walls, armed guards and concertina wire, but they still do the work of keeping people apart, of breaking up the kin-dom of God that we are all supposed to work for. He realized, and helped me learn, that border work happens all over, not just along the U.S.-Mexico border. That all of us, regardless of where we live, have the opportunity to break down borders and to join with our brothers and sisters in their struggles against oppression.
As we go through this Advent season, it is important to think about the borders in our own communities, and how we can share Love that crosses all boundaries, and how we can side with the marginalized and oppressed, as Jesus called us to. In what ways can we share the Love of Christ with those fleeing violence and persecution from far-off lands, and how can we share that same love with those experiencing violence and oppression in our own backyards? We are all part of the same family, and we have to take care of each other.
Bio: Jake Crowther works to support and help those who are experiencing violent relationships. Based out of Texas, he enjoys reading and eating tacos to his heart’s content.