I can’t imagine what you must think about Americans right now, much less American Christians. You must be tempted to hate us, though we both know that hate solves nothing. You must be weeping tonight because lies and fear are putting you in harm’s way—keeping you from family members who are already here in America—keeping you in war zones where your children go to bed crying every night wondering if they will die or if they will waken to find that they have been orphaned.
Our nation—the same one who just held a march about being pro-life—have said through our actions that your life doesn’t really matters as much as our comfort. We know the odds are that you will die of disease in a refugee camp or be killed by a bomb set off by someone who hates you just for the sake of hate. But our nation just declared that you are somebody else’s problem. My faith tradition tells me that my Savior said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40). But my nation, my fellow Christians, just said that we will see if somebody else will help. It’s not going to be us. I am so sorry. I love you and would do anything I could to save your life. I know what it is like to be scared.
The Scriptures of my faith tradition, God’s Holy Bible, says “fear not” to us 103 times in the King James Version. There are more than 300 passages that don’t use those exact words, but still tell me the same message: just do my will without fear or worry. Walk on water. Have my Son. Lead my people. Cross the Red Sea. Stand up to Pharaoh. Take up your cross. Heal in my name. Go where you have never gone before. Yet today we allowed fear to win and rule our nation. People decided they should fear you—young mother, small child, worried father, aging grandmother, lost brother, wandering sister—because some people have done wrong. Many American men beat their wives daily, but we are more afraid of you according to people I hear declaring that you will be an outcast forever. I know your pain. I know what it is like to have no voice, to be ignored. I love you. I hear you. I am sorry.
My faith tradition reads our Bible each Sunday—the Bible that says this about love in I Corinthians 13…If I speak in the tongues] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal… If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing….Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love… But many people have chosen not to love you even though our Savior declared that He gave us a new command to love as He loved (John 13:34). He died for us. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to die because I love you enough to grant you safety, but even if I do, it is what I was asked to do by the One who died for me. If I believe Him, I must choose to love you enough to help you find life. It’s my turn to return the love I have been granted. I am sorry so many are refusing to love you. I love you. I will do my best to show you.
My faith tradition tells me to go into the world, to embrace you and tell you that Jesus loves you. How can I tell you Jesus loves you if I don’t show you? Jesus didn’t just tell me—He showed me. It’s what we are called to do.
We have Americanized our faith to believe that God wants us to feel safe and happy I can’t find those words in my Bible. My faith never asked me to pledge allegiance to my nation (but I do love my nation). My faith asks me to love, to go, to heal, to be among you, to embrace all people, to fear not, to walk on water and just do what I truly know is right.
I’m sorry many in my Church have ignored your pain and your tears, have labelled you evil instead of called you a child of God (even if you don’t know you are yet), have chosen our desire for comfort and happiness over your need for life. I love you. Hear that. I will be your voice as much as I can. I would swim to your rescue if I had a way. I would fly you to safety if I owned a plane. If you make it here, I will call you friend. I will pray with you. Just know many of us are trying to pray you to a new life until we can find more practical ways of helping.
Last month, I released Two Frontiers, my third book—first historical fiction. The book is set during the time of the Mexican-American War (late 1840s, pre-Civil War). Three of my main characters pray occasionally throughout the book. Their prayers are not printed, but I do make reference to them praying for other characters. I have been asked by readers why I incorporated prayer into my fictional book. Here’s my answer:
First, I believe that prayer keeps us centered on the holy in our lives. Prayer keeps our focus off of fear and limited hope and empty wishes and keeps our focus on an all-powerful, loving God who truly wants us to come seeking answers and comfort. When my prayer life is not strong, I get off-track in my goals and with my emotions. My characters needed the same focus (don’t want to tell you why—too many spoilers).
Second, my characters (just like me) needed a place to pour out their sorrows and fears and hurts. When they faced fears, they needed a Holy Presence to help comfort them and grant them strength to go forward. I am not a self-sufficient person (even when I am stubborn and try to be). I need God in my life to guide me at all times and to help carry me and strengthen me when I feel broken. I wanted my characters to reflect this same need.
Third, praying does not mean that the outcome of a situation will be automatically be changed (one spoiler—one character is seriously injured in the war). I have prayed for the health of people who still died way too young. I have prayed over my life and have still had to climb mountains to survive. I have prayed for my children, and they have still made some pretty big mistakes (great girls, though—love them dearly). Prayer didn’t always change the outcome to suit my wishes. Prayer changed me, though. Prayer gave me a stronger peace of mind and a sense of comfort. Prayer helped me find insight into the situation. Prayer led me to new hope that I would have never found on my own, to answers that came in a way much better than what I had asked for.
So my characters prayed in my book. It’s how I get through life; it’s how I had them get through their challenges. I pray. It changes me for the better.