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An open letter to my church

Guest Column
Sunday, July 1, 2018

Dear Church,

I speak to you today with a heavy heart. What is happening in our land is a great sadness. There are those calling wickedness justice and mercy weakness. As the great prophet Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

What has happened on our border is a travesty, a great injustice, a great wickedness. Those that are crossing our border are guilty of a crime, we can acknowledge this. There are those honestly seeking asylum, but doing so in the wrong fashion. There are those simply seeking to cross illegally, this we understand. But this horrible injustice, pulling children from their families, was done punitively, as a means of a deterrent.

In Job we read, “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days? The fatherless child is snatched from the breast; the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.”

This is not right, this is a great wrong and a great injustice and it’s the job of the Christ follower to call it out. We take our lead from Christ, when he saw a woman that was clearly breaking the law of that day and decided that the punishment being doled out was not right. Jesus confronted these religious folks that were demanding their form of justice. But it was the words of Christ that said, “I don’t condemn you.” It was the actions of Jesus in the face of religious adversity that called that punishment unjust.

I’m not here today to argue for a political policy to handle immigration on our borders, that’s not my role, and that’s an argument for another day. My role is to challenge a people of God to mimic their Lord. My job is to call out injustice, like the prophet Amos as he said, “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

If your first thought is to ask where this outrage was years ago under another administration, I understand your question. I also admit that it was not present to the degree that it should have been, and I am grieved by that. But no one looks at Paul and says, “Where was your defense of the Christians when Steven was before the Sanhedrin? Why just now speak out?”

No one accuses John the Revelator, “Where were you speaking out against a previous Roman emperor? Why speak up now?” Whether it was Domitian, or Nero, or any other emperor, John eventually drew a line in the sand and spoke up. Paul, he saw that light and everything changed. Well, my answer may not be enough for you, but I’ve seen the light and have heard enough that has lead me to this point to draw a line in the sand.

I heard the cries of 2 and 3 year olds begging for their mothers and fathers. I’ve seen the instructions of these detention centers instructing their staff not to pick up and console these children. In those children I see my children. I see my tender hearted Isabella in those kids... she’d be devastated, she’d be traumatized, she’d never fully recover from that. I’ve seen my 3 year old son Landon in those little boys... he wouldn’t understand, he’d never comprehend. I weep not because they could be my children, but because we are all of God’s children, we are the family of God, every precious child a child of his. I weep because they are our kids. Every one of them. And if you truly believe this you’ll do everything in your power to stop it.

Church... this is not right. This is not just. This is not the righteousness of God. We are to use our power, our position, everything we have to stand up for justice. We’re commanded to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. Our nation has failed in this, as a church we must not.

In the past 2 weeks I’ve been angry, I’ve been broken hearted, but I’ve also been encouraged and hopeful. I was encouraged this week when our president signed the executive order to stop the inhumane treatment of parents and children at our border. I was encouraged by his decision to stop the policy this administration had begun of separating children from their parents. I’ve been hopeful when I’ve seen people from Franklin Graham to Laura Bush, to both Democratic and GOP lawmakers, to many faith leaders speak up against this injustice.

But the work isn’t done. There are hundreds and hundreds of children still separated from their parents. There are legal experts fearing that this wrong might never be righted. There are parents that have already been sent back to Central America without their children. We can’t imagine that pain, but we should try. We should be devastated, we should be wrecked, we should be undone. We should repent.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Today we weep, today we repent, today we ask for forgiveness. And tomorrow we work, we call our representatives, we call the organizations on the ground doing the work. Tomorrow we give to support those efforts, tomorrow we march, tomorrow we put action to our repentance.

Dan Matlock

San Marcos