Guest Blog by Betsy Leach
“God has chosen the people who are scorned and without importance in this world, that is to say, those who aren’t anything…” (My English translation of 1 Corinthians 1:28 from the Spanish translation Dios Habla Hoy.)
This verse leapt off the page at me this morning. A recent community conversation about the make-up of our church echoed in my mind. It is a bilingual church-plant with both English and Spanish-speaking groups of adults, and a horde of children from many continents. The topic was immigration reform, and its relevance to our church. A quick perusal of our attendance list told the story: Of those who are consistently or somewhat consistently engaged in our worship services and classes, immigration reform is a dire need for more than 50% of the adults, with at least 20 children whose lives are destabilized by immigration issues. If the statistical lens is shifted, and those of us white, middle-class 20-somethings who originally came from our mother church to minister in this community are removed from the calculation, the percentage of adults in desperate need of immigration reform jumps to over 70%. (And just to break a few stereotypes, let me add that those stats are not all about Mexicans: our church also has a significant contingent of men, women, and children whose lives were irrevocably altered by the Rwandan genocide and the turmoil that continues to this day; men and women, brothers and sisters in Christ who are seeking asylum from danger and atrocities that we cannot begin to comprehend.)
Those of us in that aforementioned white, middle-class 20-something category find ourselves rather constantly caught in the middle, trying to explain the need for reform to those who have heard lots of rhetoric, but lack personal connection to the debate. It is a debate that is all about “status”: who has it in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of the state, and who doesn’t. What is most troubling to me in so many of the conversations is the underlying distancing from the core humanity of the people in question. I’ve observed a de-humanization in many of the comments that I hear that is reminiscent of much of the rhetoric around the issue of abortion: the use of terms that mask the reality that we are talking about human beings made in God’s image; the discounting of the importance of their lives; the attitude that we are not accountable before the God of the prophets for the impact of American laws and systems on these men and women and children.
This is why the words leap at me today: God has chosen the people who are scorned and without importance in this world. When we raise our voices in worship to our Creator and Savior, when we share Communion, when we join hands to pray the Lord’s Prayer together, these are the people that I see and hear and touch. These are the ones who are responding to the Word, who are feeling the tug of the Spirit in their hearts, who are hungry to learn of the Kingdom of God. Too frequently scorned by society and often treated contemptibly by the very employers who profit from their lack of “status,” they bear another far more significant and eternal distinction: “beloved children, chosen of God.”
A former bilingual elementary teacher, Betsy Leach now works as a bilingual copyeditor of Spanish Bibles. She lives in an intentional community in a predominantly immigrant and refugee neighborhood in the Chicago suburbs.
Please note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of everyone associated with G92 or any institutions with which the blogger may be affiliated.
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