This map was created a few years ago by International Association for Refugees and will help us understand the breadth of the refugee situation around the world. This issue is not unique to the U.S., to say the least. Though we have a newer situation of unaccompanied children that is horrific. It is characterized by the desperation of parents who would send their children unaccompanied to what they see as the Promised Land. We are often their last hope as parents see us as a place of hope and health for their children.
Matt Soerens, Director of the Evangelical Immigration Table, responds to this situation with a challenge for us on June 21. Please consider passing this along to your small group or friends to pray on June 21.
In May, roughly 14,000 children unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian were apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border. While that’s down by about 25% from the number apprehended in March, it’s still an overwhelming number: 14,000.
The situation is further complicated by a recent announcement from the State of Texas that could withdraw childcare licenses from faith-based and other organizations currently hosting more than 4,000 of these unaccompanied children while they await placement with their families or other sponsors and, eventually, court dates to determine their eligibility to stay lawfully in the U.S.
I’m easily overwhelmed by these numbers. I understand why the instinct of some Americans is similar to that of Jesus’ disciples when faced with thousands of children, women and men in need: “Send the people away” (Mark 6:36).
But I’m challenged, as I heard a pastor observe in a sermon on the theme of immigration, by Jesus’ response: “he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34) and he instructed His disciples, “you give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37).
The disciples, understandably, wondered how they could possibly comply with Jesus’ instructions, given their limited resources. But a boy offered up the little he had – five loaves of bread, two fish – and Jesus prayed to His Father in heaven, then made it into enough to meet the entire crowd’s needs.
I’m convinced that, if the U.S. church offers up what we have and is faithful in prayer, God can use it to compassionately provide for large numbers of vulnerable migrant children. A few weeks ago, Christians gathered in Central Florida to pray together and explore ways to respond to the plight of these kids. Judy Douglass, who helped lead a time of prayer at that gathering, has suggested a few prayer points here.
As you’re able, I’d invite you to gather virtually with me and as many others as are able to participate for a time of prayer for unaccompanied children on Monday, June 21 at 4 PM ET/3 PM CT/2 PM MT/1 PM PT. We’ll break into small groups and pray for unaccompanied children, for the elected officials setting policies that impact them and for church to respond with Christ-like compassion. You can join us at that time using this Zoom link or add the prayer time to your calendar.
National Coordinator, Evangelical Immigration Table
You can view and share this note online here.
Evangelical Immigration Table, 7 E Baltimore St , Baltimore, Maryland 21202, United States