you shall be called the repairer of the breach
Reflection by The Rev. Arnoldo L. Romero
Last Fall, I got in touch with the Diocese of West Texas Coordinator for Immigration and Refugee Ministries. Living on the border, I knew there were asylum seekers in need. I didn’t know what to do, but as a Christian minister, I knew I had to take action. I began with a couple of monetary donations.
In January, the situation became real when I received a call about a group of asylum seekers that were about to be released by the Border Patrol. Although we have a respite center in town, it doesn’t have cots for overnight stays. Hence, they needed to be transported to a town an hour away.
I learned they were refugees from Haiti; they were adults; some spoke limited Spanish and the women were pregnant. I’ll never forget the look on their faces when they got in my car. We rode together, but there were no smiles and little to no conversation involved during the trip. You see, political instability, food shortages, unemployment, tropical storms and hurricanes have kept most Haitians locked in a cycle of poverty for generations. Can you understand what it would be like to feel your only choice is to flee your homeland?
When I read Isaiah 58:12, this is the connection I made to my experience:
Five Words – One Message
Christ’s Resurrection in me!
Scripture tells us not to oppress resident aliens, and even Jesus, Mary and Joseph were aliens in a foreign country, when they fled Egypt to escape the tyranny of King Herod. As such, it’s my responsibility to do everything in my power to help these people. It’s not a political statement. It’s giving a purpose to Christ’s resurrection. It’s me becoming the hands of Christ.
Since then, I’ve been volunteering once a week at the respite center. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. However, the love of God is present and felt by all parties involved.
The Rev. Arnoldo L. Romero is the priest in charge at St. James Episcopal Church, in Del Rio, Texas. He was an artist, a teacher, and school administrator before entering the ministry. He’s been happily married for 30 years, has two daughters, a son-in-law, two dogs, and a cat.
The Episcopal Church on the border:
The four Episcopal dioceses along the US Mexico border – San Diego, Arizona, Rio Grande, and West Texas – have long been involved in ministries of compassion, service, and advocacy to serve people on the move. Last week, Episcopal News Service published an article about current work being planned in the Diocese of San Diego.