Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BorderLinks North Delegation--October 17-19

On Oct. 17-19, 14 religious leaders came together in Chicago to listen deeply to our immigrant brothers and sisters.  We heard testimonies from many, including:
·         a young man who had grown up here but was undocumented.  He had suffered from depression like so many other young people whose lives are in limbo.  But he had found hope through joining with a local organization to create opportunities for himself and for others;
·         Labor rights defenders from Mexico who are hard at work informing immigrants and native-born people of their rights (and shocking lack of rights) under US law;
·         Nationally-recognized leaders in policy change;
·         The regional director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 
We shared meals, sleeping quarters, and personal histories, and together were transformed as we came to recognize Christ in our neighbors, the strangers and sojourners in our midst.  We challenged ourselves not to be the “voice of the voiceless,” because our neighbors are not voiceless.  This time, we are called to listen, and to think of ourselves as the sound engineers, amplifying and promoting the eloquent and powerful words already on the lips of our brothers and sisters.

By the end, we came away not only transformed, informed, and inspired. We also came away with new friends and partners in the immigrant and religious communities: partners who will accompany us as we continue the journey.  Thanks be to God.

The Importance of BorderLinks North Delegations--Rev. Sara Wohlleb

I have always understood Salvation as a continual process: God is always hard at work, saving God’s people from our own misunderstandings, fears, and injustices.  It is during these delegations that I can feel that presence and power very close at hand.  
Of course God’s work is urgently needed in the immigrant community: families are being ripped apart; victims of crime are afraid to call the police; our youth are facing no future without a 9-digit number.  But as we are invited in to see the courage and inspiring leadership at work, we come to understand how active God is in that community already.  
And I believe that God is needed just as urgently in my own community--those of us who been here for a little longer.  We need to be saved from our own too-small circles of friends; our willingness to accept the negative picture of “those people” promoted by the world-at-large; and our tendency to fall into “business as usual” instead of seeking the radical transformation of the Holy Spirit in every corner of our communities.
These delegations are a powerful way to usher in the Good News: that Salvation is here.  We ARE being saved from small-mindedness, from injustice, from all kinds of division.  Our work is far from done, but we have so many beautiful co-workers in the building of the Kingdom.  How can we help but smile, even if it is through tears, at the awesome possibilities before us?

Cipriano Juardo, Risking Life for Justice

Cipriana Jurado has worked as an advocate for the labor rights of women and for economic and environmental justice for more than 20 years in Cuidad Juárez, Mexico.  In the mid-90's, she founded the Center for Information and Solidarity for Working Women (CISO), a non-profit organization. She has been at the forefront of the workers’ movement in Ciudad Juárez and is fiercely committed to the principals of justice and equality for all people.  She’s demonstrated her commitment time and time again, putting her life on the line.
Since 2008, Cipriana and others have undertaken investigations of human rights violations committed by Mexico's Army, which has been deployed by President Calderon to reduce the flow of drugs into the USA. Because of this work, Cipriana received death threats, and one of her colleagues was killed.  In January 2010, Amnesty International released an alert asking the international community to protect Cipriana and other human rights defenders in Juárez from intimidation and death threats. The Chicago Religious Leaders Network responded to their appeal, and she has come to Chicago seeking temporary refuge from these threats.

Cipriana is available for speaking engagements in churches, organizations, schools and institutions.  To schedule an event featuring Cipriana, please contact Erica Spilde or Jenny Dale at 773-293-2964.