The Bigger Picture

Displaced person camps in the Congo. Migrants deported back to North Korea from China to suffer imprisonment and persecution (even execution if they met a Christian while in China). Burmese refugees trafficked in Thailand. Haitians discriminated against in the Dominican Republic. Xenophobia throughout Western Europe, whether in the Norway shootings or in the rhetoric of political parties.

What most impresses me about the sisters working in Nogales is that they say, “Yes, we are working with desperate situations of deported migrants here. But we will never forget that there are people starving in Somalia.”

As much as I write about and work with migrants from Mexico and Central America in the US, today I wanted to take a step back. I am pushed to a global consciousness of inequality and movement throughout the world. Once my heart broke for my migrant brothers and sisters, there was no turning back. While working for 4 months with deported migrants in Mexico, I heard time and time again pero sabes que dificil es por los centroamericanos (but do you realize how difficult it is for the Central Americans?).  In a month and a week, I will be in southern Mexico, working in a shelter for Central American migrants. But even then, I am only scratching the surface of global heartache.

Many say, “We need to take care of our own problems first, and then we can worry about suffering in the rest of the world.” But I would argue that we are called to deeper engagement than that view allows. Yes, we should address poverty within our nation. We should also consider the needs of people entering our borders. But even more so we, as humans, are called to care about human suffering.

The reason people shy away from a global perspective is that it can become quickly overwhelming. We shut down and say “there is nothing that I can do.” That is not the point. I firmly believe in the idea of calling. We are not called to every part of the world simultaneously. We work out of love for others and obedience to God and not out of a belief that we will personally solve the world’s problems. We work in our esquinita of the world and trust that God will enter and do the rest.

But in the midst of this work, we are called to not close our hearts to all of those who suffer of mind and body throughout the world. We hold our hearts out, knowing that they will be broken open. Knowing that all we can do for most people in the world is simply pray.

It is in entering that deepest of agony that we can understand the importance of hope. Our Easter hope does not come from ignoring the world’s problems or closing our conscience to only include what we consider manageable. Easter hope comes from understanding that in the depth of suffering, God is still triumphant in love and power. It comes from knowing that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” (Romans 8:18-19). As Easter people, we live in profound hope. A hope not of naïve denial of suffering but a hope that believes there is more and there is a future.

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2 Responses to The Bigger Picture

  1. What a great description of our call to live as hope-bringers. And the great thing is that we don’t have to do this alone, we can gather in hope-bringing communities that push back the darkness; that’s the design of the church. We live out our hope in community and join with what God is doing.

  2. Peg Bowden says:

    Another great posting, Joanna. We miss you at el comedor. Your presence made a difference. I wish you well in the Southern part of Mexico. –Peg

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