Along with you, I have watched and read over the last few weeks the heartbreaking and deeply disturbing stories, both here in our country and across the world, of the horrifying affect today’s world has had on the safety and health of so many children. From the Middle East to the U.S. border, children lives seem to be ready pawns used in political arguments, economic wars and military conflicts.
In Mark 9:37 we read the words of Jesus, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Those words are among the many, many references in our Gospel to the blessed place children have in the heart of our God, and to the clear instructions we have been given to love all children and be their protectors.
U.S. - Mexico Border
Since October, more than 52,000 children — most from Central America and many of them unaccompanied by adults — have crossed the border into our country and been taken into custody. This is an enormous influx of children in need, stretching the resources of the area beyond its limits. Estimates range from 70-90,000 unaccompanied minors will cross the border by the end of year. Along with other faith-based organizations, members of our United Methodist congregations along the Mexico-U.S. border are working tirelessly to help with this humanitarian crisis.
Specifically how can you help?
- Pray without ceasing for the protection of these children and an end to the political strife that threatens their security both here and in their home countries. I am asking specifically that all West Ohio congregations especially lift up these children in prayer when you gather in worship this weekend.
- Read the Plea for Unaccompanied Children from Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata of the Desert Southwest Conference, the Statement on Unaccompanied Children from Bishop Minerva G. Carcano of the California-Pacific Conference and join in an Interfaith Weekend of Compassion and Prayer for Unaccompanied Migrant Children. These conferences are on the front lines at our border.
- Write to your congressional representatives and President Obama and push for meaningful action on Immigration Reform. You can find the names of your Senators and Representatives here.
- Visit prayerfully our United Methodist Social Principles concerning the Rights of Children and the Rights of Immigrants.
- Give to UMCOR in response to this humanitarian emergency. Information on how to contribute is found here: U.S. Disaster Response.
The strife in the Middle East between Palestine and Israel is longstanding and full of heartbreak on all sides. Families are being decimated, children injured and killed and parents in two nations are grieving. I was moved to read of the meeting of two members of the bereaved families of teens killed. Families of Slain Israeli and Palestinian Teens Turn to Each Other for Comfort. Regardless of political viewpoints, as Christians we must move to help end this conflict and bring reconciliation.
How can you help?
- Pray without ceasing for reconciliation and an end to this division.
- Read about the violence escalating in Israel and Palestine in Killing Children.
- Visit prayerfully our United Methodist Social Principles concerning the World Community.
- Become part of the conversation and learn more by attending this important August event, held in West Ohio and jointly sponsored by the General Board of Global Ministries and Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church: Walking with Palestinian Christians...for holy justice and peace.
Thank you for joining me in prayer and action in calling for an end to the suffering of our children. I remain,
Your Servant in Christ
Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
Ohio West Area