Reflections at the Borderby Teresa Sherwood
Reflections at the Border
by Teresa Sherwood
Pastor Sharon Reid and I recently spent three days with our ministry partners, Larry Cox and Dr. Nancy Rodriguez Cox, in Matamoros, Mexico. There is a lot of confusion on our border, but in the midst of the confusion, I also found one very clear conviction: The God of all creation is active in our world and calling us to join Him in loving all His children.
October 30, 2018
Today we are at Casa Bugambilia refuge in Matamoros Mexico. This ministry facility was designed to house up to 20 patients but is currently home to an additional 93 people from 14 countries, speaking at least 8 languages. They are all waiting their turn to make legal application for asylum at the US border.
So what does it look like when all of these people bring their stories of desperation together in this one space? It looks like a community. It’s families taking care of each other. It’s children who don’t speak the same language running through the halls laughing. It’s a Cuban chef in the kitchen making lentil soup with the Mexican staff. It’s the Venezuelan mechanic repairing the missionary’s broken van. It’s the young girl from Guinea washing dishes and the men from Cameroon moving supplies. In this space, with these people, it’s easy to understand what Jesus meant when he said to love our neighbor.
October 31, 2018
I just spent the afternoon listening to a group of asylum seekers from Cameroon. There is not space here or appropriate words to describe what they are running from or what their journey has been like. They cannot share their names or faces publicly because they still fear they will be hunted down or their families in Cameroon will be killed. We listened to them, hugged them, prayed together, and they sang the most beautiful song, “He will lift me up”. The only fear that I felt in their presence was the fear that I might fail to be faithful to the God who calls me to love and care for them.
November 1, 2018
Today was our last day at Casa Bugambilia in Matamoros. The number of refugees staying here dropped from a high of 102 yesterday afternoon to 49, as another facility opened up and they were able to move some of the people to that center.
Pastor Sharon Reid and I spent the morning visiting with those who remain at Casa B. This includes all who come from Cuba, and the African nations of Cameroon, Eritrea, and Guinea. At noon we gathered in the courtyard, along with those resident patients in wheelchairs, to share in a multicultural worship service. Scripture was read in Spanish by a young man from Cuba and in English by a man from Cameroon. The Cameroonians shared a beautifully harmonized praise song in both English and French. Sharon and I lifted the communion liturgy in English and Spanish and then shared the body and blood of Christ with our brothers and sisters. El Cuerpo de Christo. La Sangre de Cristo. And as we were all bound together by the spirit of this ultimate act of sacrificial love, our Cameroonian choir began to sing a communion song. We closed with prayers for peace and strength and thanksgiving.
As I listened to the choir singing at the close of communion, I was taken back to a similar moment in Zimbabwe years ago. And I was overcome by this thought: “I had cancer last year. Thank you, God for giving me this gift again”.
Our lives are short. We should fill them with faithfulness and love for our brothers and sisters.