August 2, 2014

Visit to McAllen, TX

Sister Sherry spends her days working with the migrant women and children coming through McAllen, TX. I had the privilege of working with her today, escorting three families to the bus depot, ensuring that they got on the right bus and headed in the right direction.

"Why do you do this?" I asked her.

"Because," she said, "I look in their eyes and I see Jesus."

Her slight frame should not be mistaken for frailty. She ruthlessly protects these families. Sister Sherry is not to be messed with. But with her scrappy sensibility came a tenderness and compassion that was touching.

My friend Dongbo and I arrived at Sacred Heart Catholic Church not long before four mothers entered the parish hall with their children in tow. The volunteers cheered for them and then quickly went to work putting together necessities for the next leg of their journey. The families were fed, given medical attention, they took showers and were provided fresh clothes and shoes. Three of the families we assisted had only a short respite. They had to be on a bus soon in order to start a 2 to 3 day journey to meet up with their relatives here in the States.

We spent no more than a couple hours with these women and children. Still, it was difficult not to break down when putting them on that bus today. I agree with Sister Sherry, I see the face of Jesus. But I've seen Jesus in the faces of those that are serving these families as well. This evening Dongbo summarized it this way, "You have to check your politics at the door here," he said, "and simply seek the Kingdom of God." Around here, folks have set their politics aside in order to do the hard work of serving these families. As Rev. Nancy Springer from St. John's Episcopal told me this morning, "We're just trying to behave like Christians."

Something radical always seems to happen when followers of Jesus take their faith seriously in places like McAllen–places on the outskirts of empire. From Nazareth to Selma, places like this have a way of changing the rest of us. I hope that's what is once again happening here along the Rio Grande.

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