Saying he’s “interested in people, not politics,” Texas pastor Gavin Rogers is documenting his travels with a migrant caravan on Facebook. He wanted to find out if they really were as evil and scary as Republicans make them out to be — or rather made them out to be before the midterm elections. (They haven’t been as worried this week for some reason.)
Hopefully someone can alert the Trump administration and let them know that Rogers has yet to meet a single murderer or rapist in the bunch. As a matter of fact, he found that the majority of people fleeing their homes were doing so in order to avoid the actual rapists and murderers.
According to Stephanie Martin at Church Leaders:
Rogers writes about long days of traveling with 6,000 refugees via a wide variety of methods. Reaching Guadalajara, for example, involved covering 400 kilometers in “23 hours of walking, hitchhiking and police escorts. Walking. Car, semi-trailer, truck, police truck, dump truck, bus, shelter.”
Hoping to dispel fear and falsehoods about caravan members, Rogers is sharing photos of what the migrants and the people helping them really look like. “Kindness is all over the place,” he writes next to posts of “real images of Mexican police officers and refugees.”
We hear all the time about how “real Christians” are supposed to act, but this is a very special case, especially in these times. By seeking to actually get to know a group of people that has been unfairly labeled as an enemy, Rogers is arguably demonstrating the ability to do what Jesus would do far more than the white evangelicals who only pay Christ’s words lip service.
The pastor criticizes people, including Christians, who are sharing images about “the supposed violence in the caravan.” When someone posted to Rogers’ Facebook page photos depicting violence, an image search revealed they were actually from 2012. One such post has been removed, probably because of its misleading nature. Local officers Rogers has talked to say the caravan has been overwhelmingly peaceful, with no police-related conflicts.
The group Rogers is traveling with is heading toward the border town of Tijuana, Mexico, and likely won’t arrive for several weeks. Many of the migrants have family members who are already in the United States, while others want to get legal help in applying for refugee status.
Refugees sharing their stories with the pastor tell of having their children kidnapped and other relatives killed in Central America. Their journey, Rogers says, is “not about a better life in American terms, it’s just about living.” Their goals, he adds, are to seek an education for their children and “be free from violence and rape and murder.” Rogers admits that claim may sound “extreme,” but says he has firsthand knowledge, obtained by being “willing to talk and learn,” that it’s “exactly what is going on here.”
Some Christians may not want to listen to liberals — certainly not non-religious ones — but they should consider at least sparing a thought for a man from their own tribe.
American history is a muddled combination of slavery, genocide, and the pursuit of religious and individual freedom; the path of these migrants definitely exemplifies the latter. Their stories are a modern representation of what many of our ancestors’ journeys looked like as they sought refuge in the United States.
As Thanksgiving rolls around, it would be wise to reflect on that history, which isn’t as far into the past as we think.
(Image via Facebook)