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Texas Faith Communities Respond On Border

Though it’s been a true disappointment to see how Texas’ highest elected officials are handling the situation on the border, it’s good to see that their opinions are not shared by all.  Faith communities across the state are putting politics aside, and galvanizing resources to help with the humanitarian crisis.  Here’s more from the Dallas Morning News

Across North Texas, across political divides and theological differences, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews and others in the local faith community are stepping up with assistance for the children who have crossed the border illegally without a parent. Congregations moved by the plight of the children are finding practical ways to help, even as governments and politicians argue and scramble over solutions.

“It’s a beautiful illustration of loving thy neighbor,” said the Rev. Linda Roby, an associate minister at First Methodist, patting packets of pajamas.

The pastor called the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley in Pharr to channel her congregation’s enthusiasm. With a short list of needs, donations poured in from inside and outside the congregation. A banner was unfurled this week to draw attention to the relief effort: Amo a los Niños. Love the Children, it says.

“This is not a political statement,” said Roby, who regularly runs a missionary trip to Costa Rica, which has also seen an influx of children seeking asylum. “It’s a humanitarian statement.”

Like North Texas, faith communities in Southeast Texas are also finding ways to help distressed families.  Besides basic supplies like food, clothing and shelter, other great needs facing refugee families are a severe backlog to hear immigration court cases, and a lack of legal representation.  To the first issue, the Obama Administration has begun to appoint temporary judges to address the over 350,000 pending cases.  Churches are helping to combat the second need by  hosting immigration law training sessions for attorneys interested in providing voluntary legal services.  One such training will be held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church Houston on August 9th, so click the link to find out more about it.

For another perspective on the border situation, here’s an excerpt from a special joint letter signed by the Texas United Methodist Bishops.  The letter has been shared in churches across the state…

We do not understand all that these children have experienced in their home countries or in their arduous journey to our borders. We do know that their plight breaks the heart of God. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of the global community. Many come seeking to survive. They all need our compassion and care. At a time of concern about a struggling economy and national security, it is easy to give in to fear and to let that fear, rather than God’s heart, shape our hearts and our response. ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.’ (II Timothy 1:7). As followers of Christ, we have the power and wisdom of God to care for these unaccompanied children.

While the political apparatus has faltered, Texas’ faith communities have taken the lead to care for the distressed on our border.   Hopefully the politicians will do the right things soon enough.

For more information on how you can help in your area, visit the Texas Interfaith Center’s response page.