the restorer of streets to live
Reflection by Andrea Rudnik
For the last 20 months, asylum-seeking people have been living in a squalid refugee camp on the banks of the Rio Grande River. At its peak, 1500 people, mostly families with children, lived there. It was their temporary home because they were returned to Mexico to wait for their asylum process.
Imagine living outside in a tent for 20 months, through the blistering summer heat, hurricane season, and ferocious mosquitos. Imagine living through torrential rains, thick clay mud, and high winds. These conditions are what people living in the encampment have endured.
In late February, families living in the camp got their first glimmer of hope. Covid19 had kept the courts closed and their cases silent, but at last came word that everyone from the camp would be crossing the Rio Grande River into the city of Brownsville. Families would be reunited. Volunteers who had served them throughout this time, would have the pleasure of seeing them off at the bus stop or airport.
Finally, the first group arrived at the bus station. They received a standing ovation, enthusiastic clapping and socially distanced high fives and hugs. We received everyone with joy.
This is the kind of restoration Isaiah speaks about, where neighbors mend fences and all are welcomed. We help restore the streets by building community, offering opportunities for everyone and making sure all are included. We build God’s community by taking the extra step to include those that are marginalized in any way, whether by immigration status, sexual orientation, or disability.
Questions for reflection:
- How could your church welcome a new immigrant in your community? What kind of support could you offer?
- Are there any people that would not receive a warm welcome in your church? If so , who are they and why are they left out of the circle?
- How can you be a restorer of streets to live in , in your community? Are there people who need an extra invitation to participate?
Andrea Rudnik works in migration ministry as a co-founder of Team Brownsville, a humanitarian aid organization based in Brownsville Texas. Team Brownsville serves asylum seekers on both sides of the US/Mexico border, Matamoros, Tamaulipas and Brownsville, Texas. She is a member of Church of the Advent in the Diocese of West Texas.
Team Brownsville was founded in July 2018 by a small group of like-minded educator volunteers – including Episcopalians. The organization works to help asylum seekers who find themselves in Brownsville, Texas and at the Brownsville/Matamoros international bridges. Since the Biden Administration announced an end to the MPP (Remain in Mexico) program, they are focused a dual mission: to continue supporting the asylum seeker community in Matamoros, Mexico and to welcome and support families released by US authorities into the United States at the Brownsville Bus Station. Learn more at their website and this Episcopal News Service article.