Parents will do just about anything to help their children. In Central America, parents are trying to help their children in ways that may seem odd and downright unwise to those of us in the United States, but their circumstances are very different. Their children’s lives are at stake.
Drugs, violence, and lawlessness threaten to engulf their children, so they do what must be heartbreakingly difficult — they send them away on a long, perilous journey to a place that seems to offer hope for their children. Many of those children make it, and they cross the border into their place of deliverance — the United States.
Children are wonderful, but they can also get in the way. Christians in Texas are not the first followers of Christ to be confronted by parents bringing their children toward hope. Matthew 19 tells us that little children were being brought to Jesus “in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray” (v. 13a). Jesus had no problem with these kids, but his followers did. “The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them” (v. 13b).
You can almost hear the disciples. “Jesus is a busy man; he can’t deal with every problem. What kind of parents are you, wanting some magic touch? Go home and let us get on about our business. We don’t have unlimited resources or time.“
Such words are speculation, but Jesus’ response to the children has been carried through the ages. “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (v. 14)
Some Americans today today act like those first century disciples. They speak sternly about the children from Central America coming to the United States. They don’t want to be bothered by the messiness of life, especially beyond the borders of this most prosperous of nations.
Followers of Jesus, however, seek to be the hands and feet of Christ in this time and place. They greet the Central American children as their Master did — bring them to us, do not stop them, for such as these is the kingdom of heaven.
In the kingdom of heaven, God rules. Our nation struggles with its political responses to various situations, but not all challenges are political. Most are simply wrapped in human flesh; they come before us as people in need both spiritually and physically, and they are looking for someone to love and care for them — like Jesus did.
Ferrell Foster is director of ethics and justice for the Christian Life Commission, which speaks to Texas Baptists about ethical issues.