by Elizabeth Welliver
"I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." (Isaiah 43:19)
In the past year, I have struggled to hear the good news of the Gospel over the blaring chaos of our political atmosphere. I have felt despair, anger, and numbness following the current administration's actions to threaten and attack marginalized communities, particularly people who have migrated and those who live in borderlands.
As followers of Jesus, who lived within and crossed borders between communities, we can see that the wall represents more than an act of "security," "immigration enforcement" or "defense." The wall is an attempt to separate families and communities rooted in racism and economic exploitation. The wall does not serve to foster the kindom of God, or the healing and wholeness of creation in a world too often plagued by violence and walls.
In November, a group from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship attended the Border Encuentro of the School of the Americas Watch, a convergence of the international anti-war movement. From the communities of Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona, we learned that the wall artificially separates us from our neighbors, harming ecological stability and enforcing draconian immigration policies that threatens death to migrants. We listened for the "new thing" that God is doing by bringing activists, artists, and people of faith and conscience to both sides of the border wall to sing, chant, and resist the wall and all the violence it represents.
Standing at the border wall, I also felt the weight of complicity that I carry in its construction. In the words of Rev. Mark Adams from Frontera de Cristo, a binational border ministry in Agua Prieta, Sonora and Douglas, Arizona, "The border wall was built for me as a white, U.S. citizen." In this acknowledgement of sin, we are also empowered to repent of the wall and act for justice. How can ministries like Frontera de Cristo sustain ministry in a place divided by a wall? The families in Douglas and Agua Prieta view the border as a place of convergence, a rich and equitable exchange of culture, faith, language, and resources. I believe the "new thing" that God is doing, often in hidden places, is enlivening and emboldening us to work with partners on the other side to overcome separation and hear the voices that the wall attempts to silence.
This letter calls upon the current administration to renounce its plans to construct more border walls. We recognize the damaging effects and consequences of building this wall for all of creation. We proclaim faith that God is making a way, and it is our responsibility to follow the leadership of impacted communities to tear down the wall and invest in peace.
Elizabeth Welliver is a Young Adult Volunteer serving at Grassroots Leadership in Austin, Texas. She enjoys prayers for creation and living in community.