I'm the foreigner in your midst, and I'm hurting.
You once welcomed me in and befriended me. You cared for me when I needed help. You supported and prayed for me when I worked in other lands. You visited me when I was in the hospital. You brought me casseroles and chocolate cake when my babies were born. I will never forget the love and the kindness you have shown me.
You once introduced me to Jesus. You taught me that he loves me, a foreigner, as much as he loves you, an American. You sing to my half-Mexican children: “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, any color dark or light, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
You once encouraged me to read the Bible to get to know God better. You shared many Bible verses with me over the years, including these:
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as you love yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35-36, 40)
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20)
You once taught me that God delights in truth spoken in love, in actions that match our words, and in faithfulness in single or married life.
The statistics say that 81% of white evangelicals supported the soon-to-be most influential and powerful leader in the world. Someone who will shape my son’s ideas about what it means to be a man. Someone who will shape my daughter’s ideas about how women should be treated. Someone whose words and actions embody the opposite of everything you ever taught me, the opposite of everything Jesus and the apostles taught, lived and died for.
Someone whose words and actions are not loving, truthful, or faithful.
Someone who says that Mexican men like my husband are “bad hombres” and “rapists” who bring crime, drugs, and problems to the U.S.
Someone who calls women like me names so base and demeaning that I do not want to repeat them.
Someone who says that my friends of other backgrounds and faiths have no place here, unless they are Christian and white.
Someone endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.
This week, I was shocked to discover that you, church, also overwhelmingly endorsed him. You were a significant part of the “silent majority” who supported him.
What happened to “Jesus loves ALL the children of the world”?
I thought you believed that. I thought you lived that. I thought you meant that.
I thought I knew you. I am not so sure anymore.
If you say and act one way in public, but endorse the opposite way in silence, who are you, church?
Does this mean you have always silently and secretly mistrusted (or hated) foreigners like me and like my friends?
Did you do so many good things for me out of love or out of religious duty?
Do you silently believe God is more concerned about the well-being of white Christians than about the well-being of Hispanics, African Americans, Muslims or LGBTQ?
I once thought I knew you. I am not so sure anymore.
Your overwhelming, silent (and not-so-silent) support for prejudice against foreigners and minorities is tearing down your sisters and brothers, church.
You may say that you did not endorse the new leader of this country because of his prejudice against foreigners but despite it. This only communicates to me that certain issues are more important to you than certain people. People like me. People like my husband. People like my children. People like my Muslim friends. People who are not white and Christian.
The Bible you taught me to love tells how religious people consistently tested Jesus to see if he was on the right side of issues (taxes, holidays, sin hierarchies, interpretation of scriptures, etc.). I see Jesus consistently lifting people above issues and choosing love over the right position on controversial topics. Love seems to be the only right stance on any issue for him.
The Bible says God desires mercy, not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6), but I feel sacrificed by you on the altar of issues.
Next time I see you, and you smile, hug me, and tell me I am welcome, do you mean it or are you just being nice? Do you really love me or do you silently mistrust me? Am I more important to you than issues? The answer I gather from your recent silent but overwhelming endorsement of prejudice against foreigners is no.
So, I am not sure I can trust what you say, church.
I love Jesus, and I will be committed to him for the rest of my life thanks to the love, hospitality, generosity, goodness, and kindness you have shown me. I will be eternally grateful to you for showing me his way.
I always thought that you wanted to share his way with others. I thought I knew you. I am not so sure anymore.
For the first time in many, many years, I feel tempted to stay home this Sunday morning because I no longer feel safe in your midst, church. I am not sure I see Jesus in your midst.
I love you, I grieve, and I pray for my healing and yours.
I pray to see Jesus in you once more.