Sermon audio – Lessons from El Paso – Rev. DL Helfer
EL PASO – ALL THE FEELINGS!
by Rev. DL Helfer
El Paso, Texas
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
It’s that stage in my travel where I miss home deeply. I miss my partner, our respective cats, friends, ministry, and the beautiful state of Rhode Island (though, an important side note to RI: what the heck are you doing right now in the legislature regarding reproductive health care access and protection?! A ‘blue’ state must be able to protect all individuals of childbearing age. Pass the damn laws to recognize the right of all to determine their own reproductive future.)
But I digress . . .
Because I’m feeling the grief of leaving. Of knowing that others arrive to take my place, of course. All the same, how can I go on my my normal life knowing that those I serve here can’t go on with their normal lives?
We greeted 54 new “guests” today. One woman I was assisting has no idea where her husband is. He was taken from her and their 9 month old baby at the border and not even she, his wife, has been informed where he’s being held or for how long. It’s not that our government doesn’t care. It’s that they are making it as hard as humanly possible for families to survive.
A large group of those arrived told us— quietly— over lunch, why they were all sick. They had told ICE that they were cold, and ICE’s response was to lower the temperature further! This room was filled with infants, babies, young children, all sick because our government sees fit to hold them illegally and in inhuman conditions.
I’m trying really hard these days to be careful of my language, to not speak inappropriately in hyperbole. But yes, if you wonder how the Nazis started, look at the concentration camps we have for young children, for men, for anyone with brown skin trying to seek asylum here. This is how it begins— with the marginalization of certain groups.
Come, spend a day, a week, a month at a border. See the desperation, the fear, and the not knowing. Hear the cries of children who don’t understand the cruelty that they’ve experienced.
I know I’m here on behalf of many of you. And I’m glad for that. But I ask now that you are here for me, really for them. Please, please, make noise. Don’t let these actions go unheard, unheeded, normalized.
Not just for me. And not entirely for ‘them.’ For us all, to recognize and protect our shared humanity.