(inspired by John 4)
Jesse was touring with His disciples Billy, Jerry and Joel. One day he sent them into Wal-Mart to get some food for their evangelistic swing. While they were gone he met an undocumented man standing at the day-laborer corner eating some tacos and looking for work.
Jesse went to him and said, “Hola, amigo, can I have one of your tacos?”
The hombre looked down, then in broken English said, “Why are you talking to me, and why do you want some of my tacos? The only time your kindofpeople talk to my kind of people is when you want us to work for you. We stand on this corner and people laugh and spit at us. You people call us ‘illegal,’ ‘wetbacks’ and ‘Messycans’…so why do you now call me ‘amigo?’ And now you want my tacos, señor?”
Jesse said, “if you knew who asked you for your taco you would have asked me and I would have given you food that would give you eternal life.”
The hombre said, “Señor, are you feeling okay? You are standing on our day-labor corner and don’t have any food in your hand to give life. How can you give me food that will help me live forever? You need to get out of the sun, señor. We don’t need your invisible food.”
Jesse said, “If you would ask me, I would give life to you.”
The hombre no longer looked down but directly at Jesse. “Life? We don’t need the kind of life your people offer. We have holy rollers and hallelujah people come to this corner and talk to us all the time about eternal life. They tell us we need to go to their churches to get right with God. They tell us we should not be here, then they take us to their home to cut the grass, take out their trash and paint the walls. In their house they treat us like we are invisible, but we see what they are watching on TV and the kind of magazines they are reading. Sometimes they get drunk and send us away without paying us. Is that the kind of life you are talking about?”
Jesse said, “Show me your green card.”
The hombre said, “I don’t have a green card.”
Jesse responded, “You have said well you don’t have a green card. You have come to this country illegally five times.”
“Señor, are you a curandero? We are so confused about religion and where should we go to church. Los Americanos tell us to go to their churches but then they treat us like we are basura. Some of their radio evangelists call us thieves and criminals and then they want us to convert and go to their church. We are crying out to God because we live in fear. We are only here to help feed our families and live a quiet life.”
Jesse said, “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly. If you come to me I will save you and guide you. I know your pain. I was an immigrant in a foreign land as a child. I was rejected by my own religious people. I have overcome. I can feed you. I can give you true security. I can make your load light. I can give you real eternal life.”
At that the undocumented hombre dropped his taco, saw Jesse as the Savior and ran to tell his compañeros that he had found the Son of Mary and Joseph of the Bible on the corner at Wal-Mart.
Billy, Jerry and Joel came out of Wal-Mart and saw Jesse talking to the man. They said, “Why are you talking to this ‘wetback?’ They shouldn’t even be here. You might be breaking the law just by talking to them. They are hated and it will be bad for our public relations.”
Jesse said, “I have public relationships you have no knowledge about.” (Joel wondered, “did he find a PR agent we don’t know about?”)
About that time a large group of people were coming around the side of the Wal-Mart toward Jesse when Jesse said to the disciples, “lift up your eyes and see the people who are made in my image. This is what the Great Commission is all about. Sometimes a little compassion opens doors for the good news in ways no seminary training or PR will ever get you. If you want to reach people for the gospel, you are going to have to talk to lawbreaking sinners. You were once lawbreaking sinners. Quit looking down on them! Turn off the TV and radio talk show hosts and get a life. I came to seek and save the sick and not the healthy. These people need me and they know it.”
The people all sat around Jesse and he gave them the food the disciples had bought in Wal-Mart and taught them, in perfect Spanish, about security, peace and eternal life. By evening they were all saved and they lead Jesse to their trailer park. They shared with Him their meager foods of lengua, chorizo, menudo and home made salsa (not the fake stuff they sell at Wal-Mart). Then Jesse healed all the people that were brought to him.
The disciple marveled that he cared about these undocumented people. Jesse told the disciples, “I came to seek and to save that which is lost. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Jesse told the disciples that they needed to care for all people, including the undocumented. Finally Jesse said to the disciples, “all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Alejandro Mandes serves as the Director for Hispanic Ministries with the Evangelical Free Church of America. He earned his doctorate at Dallas Theological Seminary and a Masters of Social Work at the University of Texas. He has helped to begin various ministries serving immigrant communities for the Evangelical Free Church, including the GATEWAY theological education program and Immigrant Hope.
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