Many of you prayed for me; others don’t know me. I was at the forefront of the immigration debate during the last month. On November 16, 2010, I was involved in a minor traffic accident. I was driving without a driver’s license, delivering Bibles. My father is a minister in Cincinnati, Ohio and the ministry is my life. I was taken by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to Butler County Jail and later transferred to Morrow County Sherriff’s Office.
You see, I did not have legal status: my family had fled to the United States from Guatemala when I was a small child. Having met Christ in a Pentecostal church, my parents faced persecution because of their faith, and they felt that coming to the United States was the only way to keep their family safe. When they got here, they tried to do everything legally, applying for asylum; while my uncle’s case under similar circumstances was approved, our case was denied. Afraid to go back, we became undocumented, which is why, when I was in the car accident, they planned to deport me quickly back to Guatemala.
The most important part of my story, however, is what happened outside of just me. Movements were started; people decided to unite for a common cause. My friends were not aware of my status in the United States prior to all of this, but they felt the obligation to fight for their friend. They, along with the media, kept the story alive. This same story later escalated to national levels: from The Washington Post and The New York Times to the BBC.
I became the “poster child” for the DREAM Act, which was a bill being debated at the time in Congress that would have allowed certain young undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States. The main guidelines were that the person must have been 16 years of age or younger when they entered the country, must have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years, and must either go to college or serve in the military in order to qualify under the act. This, of course, would have affected me.
While in jail, I was often asked how I was feeling. Many were surprised when I would consistently tell them that I was not worried about anything. As I mentioned before, the ministry is my life and it holds the number one spot in my life. I found solace in the words of Christian artists such as Brandon Heath, Jon Foreman, Leeland Dayton Mooring, and many others. However, most importantly I quoted and lived by the Bible. In Ecclesiastes 7:3 it states, “Sorrow is better than laughter, because sober reflection is good for the heart.” And then in Ecclesiastes 7:10: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these days?’ For it is not wise to ask that.” I held on to these scriptures because they hold the key to being at peace in times of hardship.
One of the concepts that I hold true to is the fact that we are all history-makers. I have two lifelong goals: to write a book on my life, and to leave a legacy. The second is the most important. This is because we all die and are remembered, but not all are remembered how we want. God has written the story of our lives and we must simply live it out. The Bible tells us that we are the clay and God is the potter (Romans 9:20-21). We cannot question Him because He is our creator. My favorite verse in the Bible comes from Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give youa future filled with hope.’” As evangelical Christians, we must believe this.
Many people continue to state that they admire my faith, but it was not me. God gave me that faith, and I simply had to take care of it. Rather than being deported as scheduled, I was released on December 17th and was immediately flown to Washington D.C. to rally for the DREAM Act. The act failed in the Senate by only five votes. This, however, does not discourage me, because I believe that a change is coming to this nation. How do I know? Well just think of what this nation will become if it doesn’t change. First, the people need to be educated on these issues, but the most important thing is for those that support it to actually join the movement and be a part of this piece of our country’s history. I hope that my story may inspire you, but remember that it is not I that will touch your hearts but God Himself and we cannot question what He wants to use us for.
I am committed to joining the movement with the DREAMers (those directly affected by the DREAM Act) but also committed to helping it grow. God has already given us a future, and a great one at that!
Bernard Pastor graduated last year near the top of his class from Reading High School in Reading, Ohio. The government indicated on December 17, 2010 when he was released that they were deferring action on his deportation for one year, an action that would have been very unlikely were it not for the many in his community and around the country who mobilized to pray and advocate for Bernard. Please continue to pray for him and his family, as their situation is far from settled.
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